Nostalgia Sunday – Cafe Batya moves
You may not have felt the earth shake but Dizengoff Street experienced a seismic shift last month. Cafe Batya lost its lease and was forced to move from the corner of Dizengoff and Arlozorov that for 70 years had been an established meeting place for artist, poets, soldiers, politicians and, in general, anyone in need of European-Jewish comfort food.
Thankfully, Tel Aviv hipsters can still get their fix of Batya’s chicken soup, chopped liver and cholent in the restaurant’s swanky new digs on Hashmonaim Street.
Cafe Batya opened in 1941 by then new immigrant Batya Yom Tov and her husband Aryeh. The atmosphere was homey and the food home-made. Like many another Jewish balabusteh, Batya wrote down her recipes in a small notebook, many of which are simply named for the person who gave her the dish: “Hannah’s cake” or “Sarah’s kugel”.
Batya also saved the old menus, news clippings and photos of the restaurant and its patrons over the years.
Today, the restaurant is run by her daughter and granddaughters who commissioned by artist Lika Ramati to create photo-collage wall art for the new location, based on Batya’s collection.
The combination is a perfect fit: Ramati’s work is steeped in nostalgia with a modern twist. It complements the contemporary materials and clean lines of the new restaurant’s design while still paying homage to its domestic tradition.
By the way, the old location at 197 Dizengoff will be turned into a boutique hotel. Doubtless it will be very nice but for chicken soup, gefilte fish or gribenes, patrons will have to get over to 95 Hashmonaim Street. Totally worth it.