Photo Credit: Rosally Saltsman
David Cohen welcoming us into his father’s restaurant.

Carrousel – Bistro – Authentic French Cuisine
Reservations advised
Kashrut Rabbanut Ra’anana
3 Zarchin St. Ra’anana
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 12:00-14:00 and 19:00-21:30,
Sunday and Thursday 19:00-21:30



It’s a small place, intimate, European. There are six tables inside and two outside. There is one chef – Stéphane Cohen, and one waiter, his 17-year-old son David. Although David was born in Israel, they converse in French, and French music plays softly in the background. The restaurant is decorated in French style, including a window with a flowerbox near the ceiling. The menu is replete with rich French food. The prices are on par with the other restaurants in the area, especially considering the generous quantities, the only thing at odds with French tradition. The food – Ooh la la! I can sum it up best by what my friend Amy said when she bit into her Profiterole – “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.”

Carrousel, so named because it’s an international word, it goes around and around and it is infinite, features a collection of model carrousels from family, friends and patrons. The restaurant has been in existence for 22 years. Each of Cohen’s four children (two boys and two girls) has worked there, in turn, and his youngest son, David, has told his father that he wants to continue the restaurant after he retires.

The Cohens live in Kfar Saba, but opened the restaurant in Ra’anana because of its large French population.

Cohen, 59, and his wife Valérie, made Aliyah from Paris 25 years ago. In Paris he had his own restaurant called Auberge Ashkefarad – a combination of Ashkenazi and Sephardic, in reference to his father being Moroccan and his mother Ashkenazi. Cohen’s Parisian restaurant was meat and he enjoyed finding ways to imitate authentic French food in a kosher way – using goose liver and brains. He found it a challenge. And he met with success.

Cohen obviously adores his work but he came upon it in a roundabout fashion – sort of like a carrousel. He was kicked out of school at 16 because he was hyperactive and was advised to pick a trade. Since cooking involves a lot of physical work and movement, he tried that and loved it.

But the famed City of Gastronomy did not take kindly to a Jewish chef and he was refused places in schools and restaurants just by virtue of his last name. Finally, he was accepted for an apprenticeship but he had to do very menial tasks at the beginning, and not even in the kitchen.

Despite the barriers of anti-Semitism, Cohen managed to obtain the highest certification for a chef and when he arrived in Israel, taught cookery at the Tadmor Hotelier School in Herzliah.

But wanting independence, Cohen decided to open his own restaurant, and invested the 30,000 NIS he had saved to open Carrousel.

Cohen was never interested in collecting Michelin stars. He preferred to feed hungry people; to make them happy and sated. Although the restaurant is open only a few hours a day, he works 14 hours each day shopping, planning menus, preparing, and cooking. “I am an artisan,” he says.

The chef at work, and loving it! Wearing a French beret instead of a chef’s hat.

All the food in the restaurant is made by Cohen from scratch from the bread to the ice cream. The food is delicious and artistically garnished. David, his son, is very courteous and solicitous to the clientele.

There were two older British couples in the restaurant so I asked them about their experience. One of the ladies who had brought her friends said this was the only restaurant her husband agreed to eat out at.

Cohen was very generous in giving us a “taste” of the restaurant. We dined on fresh bread with butter, bouillabaisse with a special homemade rouille sauce, French onion soup, salad, cheese fondue (made out of 3 cheeses), profiterole and crêpe Suzette, hot chocolate and… we just couldn’t eat anymore. My go-to dish when I eat out is usually fettuccine, which they have on the menu (as well as other Italian dishes) but Cohen says that the French make pasta differently than Italians (with eggs). The menu, which also includes fish, risotto and salads, is incredibly varied, especially considering that Cohen makes everything fresh to order.

Profiterole, Crêpe Suzette, and hot chocolate.

Despite the two desserts we had already eaten, the chef recommended that we try the crème brulée which was quite simply, ambrosia!

Niv Gilboa a famous Israeli food critic was blown away by the restaurant. He said when he tried it, “I might move to Ra’anana.” He favorably compared Carrousel’s offerings to food he had eaten in France, and invited Chef Cohen to appear on a television show.

Cohen is animated and charming and has a lot of positive energy, which I’m sure is absorbed by the food, which is prepared in a space larger than the restaurant.

The dining experience, in one word, was Magnifique!

The only drawback was that the following evening, my friend Amy had a weigh-in at her diet group. Oh well, C’est la vie!


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