Last night, David and I went to The Old Man and the Sea (Hazakan V’hayam), a restaurant overlooking Jaffa’s old port, which has been in continuous use since the Bronze Age.
Nowadays, the port is a semi-retired relic of the city’s biblical past: fishermen with dingy’s, sailboats, and touristy harbor tour boats are the only vessels allowed in the harbor now. All of the big cargo ships are diverted to the harbor in New Tel Aviv.
Nonetheless, the harbor has been buzzing the past couple days. The entire country has been on Passover vacation, and you see huge extended families picnicking on benches and fishing over the side of the retaining wall. You can tell the spot is touristy when you hear Hebrew, Arabic, English, German, Russian, and Portuguese all in one place! It seems like everyone comes to the old port to enjoy the sunshine and the view on a warm day.
The restaurant is one of the biggest ones we’ve seen in Israel; it probably seats 100 people outside and another 100 inside (while most smaller places seat thirty people, tops). David and I decided to sit inside to avoid the wind, and were seated in a booth adjacent to the window.
As soon as we sat down, a waiter came over to our table and practically threw twenty different appetizers/salads before us. I’m not exaggerating: the Old Man’s tourist-trap gimmick is that each meal comes with exactly twenty different salads, a pitcher of lemonade, tea/coffee, and dessert.
The twenty plates made a little mosaic of our tiny two-top table. So we started in strong on the falafel, hummus, babaganoush, Turkish salad, roasted eggplant in tomato sauce, tabouleh, carrot and cranberry salad, a surprisingly hot salsa, white and red cabbage…. When our main course (Dave and I split the sea bass) arrived at the table, we barely had room for it.
After dinner, we rolled ourselves back to our apartment where we both gave in to a food coma.