Today, my family and I experienced an unbelievable culinary adventure in the heart of Tel Aviv's financial district. Six of us went to the award-winning Chloélys restaurant, where we were overwhelmed by the sophistication and quality of the menu and the food. We had heard it was good, but we were unprepared for this level of a culinary experience.

Near the open kitchen surrounded by lots of wood, artwork, and bookcases filled with cookbooks from around the world, we ordered as many dishes as possible. We started with Israeli salad with homemade tehina, antipasti, sweet potato soup and an assortment of carpaccios—sea bass, beef and salmon. The consensus around our table was that the carpaccios reigned supreme. These starters were presented in the most magnificent way—the beef carpaccio looked like a bouquet of roses. The sea bass carpaccio appeared like a piece of jewelry, dotted with pink peppercorns. The salmon carpaccio looked like a woven basket face. But as beautiful as these images were, the taste exceeded this beauty.

For our main courses we ordered entrecôte, ballotine of sea bass, dover sole in a meuniere sauce, and sweet potato ravioli. Each dish was cooked to perfection and flavored with the exact quotient of seasoning. One of my cousins who is extremely finicky about his beef devoured his entrecôte in red wine sauce with major delight and satisfaction. I loved the buttery flavor and the lightness of the sole. Another cousin insisted that the winner was the sea bass ballotine. The cream sauce was exceptional, creamy without an overpowering heaviness, and the fish and the sauce were made for each other. Our vegetarian didn't lose out, her sweet potato ravioli was light, with a pleasing ginger punch.

At this point we were full, but not overly so, and had room to splurge on the exquisite desserts. Full disclosure: the reason we ventured to Chloélys in the first place is my cousin is the pastry chef, and did he deliver! We shared five desserts, all memorable: a white chocolate and pear parfait accompanied by homemade chocolate ice cream; a lemon tart, a beautifully architected chocolate confection; an extraordinary crème brûlée; and to-die-for pistachio and vanilla homemade ice cream in a cookie-like shell. Each was a unique interpretation of a classic dessert, lovingly crafted and magically flavored, sweet but light enough to be pleasing after our big meal. I’m thinking of going back tomorrow for another scoop of pistachio. To top it off, we enjoyed homemade plum brandy liquor in chilled shot glasses.

The decor was elegant with an understated, modern feel. I personally loved the wood, the bookcases filled with cookbooks from around the world, and the artwork. It was spacious yet intimate and completely charming. The open kitchen contributed to the welcoming ambience, yet the acoustics and ventilation were such that you didn't feel you were too close to the kitchen. The service was friendly and professional. Filled with people conducting high powered business, we also felt very comfortable and relaxed holding our mini-family reunion. The meal was a splurge, but definitely worth it.

I have one regret, that I neglected to sample the extensive international wine collection (I noticed a number of vintage wines on the menu). Next time!

Chloélys, Aba Hillel Silver 16, Ramat Gan, Israel, Phone: 057-944-3940,

Photo courtesy of Jill Davison.