February 2, 2006
There’s the Rub—in Tel Aviv
Tierra couldn't be more Los Angeles. But for this nouveau combination of mostly organic restaurant, massage parlor and oxygen bar, you'll have to go to Tel Aviv, where this combo venue clearly out-Hollywoods Hollywood.
The only thing missing -- so far -- is a Hollywood-style patron, such as Madonna or Oprah. In the meantime, you can settle happily for Yaniv Ben Rachamin, the handsome young waiter. On a recent visit, he needed some crib notes to describe the eclectic menu offerings, but he's surefooted and helpfully well muscled for any visitors who order the seven-minute, 22-sheckel (about $4) massage with their entree.
Like the others of the wait staff, Ben Rachamin is a certified masseuse. His specialty happens to be a Chinese-style regimen whose name he had trouble translating into English. But as he willingly demonstrated, the good fight against carpal tunnel syndrome knows no language barriers. You just remain at your table in your chair and let him go to work.
Tierra's setting in its bustling, mostly residential neighborhood is stylish coffeehouse; the food is inventive. One typical appetizer consisted of figs stuffed with mushrooms, macadamia nuts and chicken -- flavored with cardamom, cinnamon and a Hindu date dressing (34 sheckels). Not all the entrees strain to be eccentric; there's "grilled pullet and polenta" for 58 sheckels and "calamari paperdello" for 54 sheckels. Some menu offerings are mouth watering; others more creative than tasty. But there's a full bar to wash everything down.
Co-owner Yonatan Galili says he keeps the menu as organic as possible -- except when going exclusively organic would raise prices. He's gone through several career iterations, including successful industrial engineer, to reach this entrepreneurial exploration of the mind/body/stomach connection.
He sees the massages as a way for a person/diner to "be with himself for seven minutes." He adds: "We are very aware of the Western way of life. We serve food that is friendly to the stomach so you can eat here and then later keep on working."
Of course, another option is to get high at the oxygen bar and forget all about working. Galili has two flavors of oxygen -- "secret" concoctions created specially by an expert in designing flavors for oxygen bars. One is to relax you; the other to energize you.
The giddy feeling that ensues doesn't seem quite legal, but apparently, it's OK to inhale. Just be glad that you're not the one flying the airplane home.
Tierra is located at Yirmiyahu 54, Tel Aviv, 03-604-7222. Hours: 9 a.m. to last customer.