Located on a quiet stretch of Hell’s Kitchen, HaSalon seeks to bring together ingredients of the highest quality, innovative Middle-Eastern touches and a non-stop dance party. HaSalon is one of the several restaurants created by Israeli chef Eyal Shani. (His other outposts include Miznon, best known for those whole, roasted heads of cauliflower and Naked Tomato, where grass-fed pita sandwiches rule). Don’t expect to see an online menu. The food selections change seasonally and sometimes daily. And even when you arrive, you will probably need a bit of guidance from one of the incredibly friendly waiters.
The menu is filled with whimsy and the dinner descriptions are made to make you smile. On a recent evening, we began our meal with a “long bagel without a hole” that was accompanied with bone marrow and salted butter. “Seven ricotta clouds and crab meat, not even one more,” provides a strangely specific version of portion control, that tasted delicious. Humanely certified meat has its own category and features an extremely large, two-foot long lamb kebab (meant for three), hanger steak and roasted chicken. King prawn with black rice is also a terrific sharing plate, as is a whole John Dory, (meant for four) and the “living ocean creatures.”
And vegetarians will be thrilled with a large selection of choices that include roasted artichokes, a black tomato salad and a mushroom steak. Deserts come in multiple sizes and some regulars include lemon tart, nougat chocolate tart and babka. There are no fancy cocktails. Drinks are made using your liquor of choice and fresh fruit juice or soda. But the wine list is extensive and international.
There are two seatings a night. The early one is a bit more sedate. As the evening progresses, the party vibe starts to build and the dining room becomes louder. Those who choose the second seating come to dance, in addition to feast. At around 10 pm, the lights are lowered, the gates are pulled over the windows and the dj starts spinning. Dancing at your seat, in the aisles, on a table and even the bar are expected and encouraged. The food is quite pricey, but if you make a night of it and get into the spirit of HaSalon, you may not care that your table just ordered a $140 rib eye. Plan to have the time of your life, in between bites of homemade pasta, delicately crafted vegetables and large cuts of meat. And if you happen to be in Miami, you can visit the recently opened HaSalon there, as well as outposts in Tel Aviv and Ibiza.