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Missing Tel Aviv? Find A Piece Of It In Williamsburg

Williamsburg has no shortage of places to eat, nor of Middle Eastern-cum-Israeli cuisine.

Yet somehow, a little cafe on Union Avenue stands out. ‘Reunion’, owned by Eldad and Inna Mashiach, serves classic Israeli dishes with a side of Tel Aviv attitude. The unassuming space is as comfortable in hipster Williamsburg as it would be shuk-side in, arguably, even more hipster Tel Aviv. This is the place to come for a dose of nostalgia and a true taste of the White City.

From the Hebrew script incorporated into the cafe’s logo — a shin rotated sideways to become an ‘E,’ a samech in place of an ‘O’ — to the pitcher of water that arrives on the table with a wedge of lemon and sprig of mint floating inside, to the unmistakably Israeli nose-ringed waitress bringing that effortless, slouchy Tel Aviv cool that New Yorkers can’t quite seem to muster, it feels like home.

Image by Reunion

The menu features all the usual suspects: runny-yolked shakshuka with challah to dip, herbaceous falafel, and the obligatory avocado toast that can’t be escaped in either city, with some welcome additions. Mujadara, a rice and lentil dish topped with crispy onions; Israeli “Reunion” breakfast with its quirky mix of sweet and savoury dips in their small steel containers— tahini (of course), jam, roasted peppers with feta; zesty chopped salad, its tiny cubes of tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions perfectly seasoned.

Best of all, the “Yemenite Pancake,” aka malawach! Served as it should be, with a soft-centered boiled egg, a grated tomato salsa seasoned only with salt, and zhoug. If you aren’t already familiar with zhoug, the Yemenite mother of all hot sauces, a simple blend of cilantro, chillies and lots of garlic, this dish couldn’t offer a better introduction.

Reunion serves as a good reminder that, despite the occasional bout of deep-frying, Israeli eats are notably healthy; fresh, vegetable-heavy, a short list of natural ingredients. The cafe has, wisely, built on this, working with local ingredients and suppliers. It makes a refreshing change from the stacks of maple-soaked pancakes and fried [insert as appropriate] that make up a typical New York brunch.

Their prices aren’t competitive, and patrons cringingly soak their schnitzel in ketchup and lurid red hot sauce, but on a warm, humid day, sipping a mason jar of coffee on ice, you can almost hear the waves.

Reunion, 544 Union Avenue, Brooklyn (]( “”))

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