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Middle East & Africa

Uri Buri -- seafood in Acre (Akko), Israel

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Uri Buri -- seafood in Acre (Akko), Israel

Curt | May 29, 2005 05:09 AM

First, a shout-out to Luigi in Philly. Yo!

Word on the street is that Uri Buri is the best place to eat seafood in the area, possibly in the country. Don't know about that, but I thought it was good, certainly worth a visit if you're in the area.

Easy to find in the Old City, a stone's throw from the lighthouse. A cube built on top of a crusader-era sea wall, it overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It's just outside the western entrance to the Templar's Tunnel, which is one of the four or five main tourist attractions in the Old City.

Inside the building, the stone walls look the same vintage as the 12th-century sea wall ramparts outside. Vaulted ceiling (as in gothic cathedral) is high, stuccoed, and white-painted to brighten up the joint. Floor is tiled and a little dusty. Feels like a well-loved eatery.

When I walked in at 4pm the place was about 1/3-full and the woman who turned out to be my waiter asked if I had a reservation. When I said no, I detected just a sssssslight hesitation before I was seated at a table by the kitchen -- perhaps I am being oversentitive, but I thought there were plenty of nicer places to sit. From there, the service improved dramatically.

The menu is rich with choices of appetizers and entrees. The entrees are available in half or full portions. Soup, salad, and dessert are also served.

I started with a very nice glass of "dry organic Chardonnay". Probably it is local but I failed to ask. I am not a Hebrew speaker, but the staff is adept at English.

I tried the chef's tasting menu, which works like this: the waiter asks you some basic questions (anything you don't like or are allergic to?) and after a salad and/or soup course, she brings you a half-portion (or full portion if you're dining with a partner) of something special, not necessarily on the menu. (The half-portion is supposedly half-plus-10-percent of the full portion price, but I didn't look at the prices carefully.)

I skipped the salad and went straight for the seafood soup which was cream-based and sublime.

Afterward I only managed two entrees. First was a mix of scallops, shrimp, and calamari, sauteed and somewhat heavily soy-sauced, over wide-guage couscous. This half-portion would have been a fine dinner choice on its own. Second was a tuna filet, prepared rare, over rice. Not exotic, but it seemed to be fresh and prepared with integrity.

Desserts were not on my radar; however, the waiter shot a very lovely, crema-laden cup of espresso. Service at the table was attentive, friendly, and helpful. Price was 171 shekels, which equates to about $39US.

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