I hate being sick. Whenever I say that, the reply I get is: “who doesn’t?” Good friends, however, know what I need when I come down with something. So when Yuval suggested that we go and have a fun night out, I thought “why not?” Outings with Yuval are always fun. So we made our way to the Smith Bar in Tel Aviv on a Thursday evening, a few moments after the Maccabi ball game started. The loyal fans were already in place, intently watching the game unfold. Everyone had a drink in hand, and even thought we knew no one, we were greeted with a smile that suggested we had arrived at an Israeli pub located in another country.
Eli, our barkeep, and definitely one of the most talented ones I have encountered, took notice of the cruel flu that plagued me, and offered to fix me a drink that would “cure my ills. Yuval, seated next to me, went for the Apple Jack - apple schnapps, Jack Daniel’s, sour mix, and apple juice. A heck of a drink according to him, and judging by how quickly it was gone, I believed him. Two minutes later, I got my healthy drink, the Ginger Mojito, was not on the official menu, but it can be ordered special. It was the best Mojito I have ever had - end of discussion. Maybe it was the ginger or perhaps the overall atmosphere, but a day later, the flu was gone, I kid you not. That alone was worth the visit.
But back to the night itself: to go with our drinks, and with the game, we got some snacks. Now when 2 men say “snacks,” they actually mean large plates of food. Indeed, within minutes we were served a huge roast beef sandwich, delicious, kingly, and gone in 10 minutes. Also on the bar was a plate of Smithos – the house dish. It is a crispy pastry, with a selection of fillings. We went with 5 types of Smithos: filled with falafel, pizza, roasted peppers & goat’s cheese, ground beef with pine nuts, and strips of sirloin with Dijon mustard. Whereas the roast beef sandwich was split in 2 for sharing purposes, the Smithos presented a challenge to cooperation. There are no friends in love, war, and fine foods… so it would appear.
At this point we were quite full, so we decided to lean back and rest, to make room fro dessert. In the meantime, Maccabi, secured a narrow victory, resulting in all around applause, followed by the mumblings of conversations. This is how we met Nati, the owner, and one swell guy, overall; Keshet, a charming girl who put together a wild Purim party at the Smith; Zafrir, who is in charge of the great music; and other interesting characters. All good people, who enjoy and contribute to the homey atmosphere of the Smith Bar, and not a poseur among them – a rare sight in Tel Aviv, to be sure.
Now we were ready for dessert – a Belgian waffle. This is a large dish, yet within 2 bites we realized that when something is so delicious, portion size is not an issue. So, to the bewilderment of those surrounding us, the entire dish – waffle, ice cream, nutella, etc – was gone almost as soon as it was served, and we brought the night to a sweet close.
Another chaser per man, a glance at the watch, the realization that it was nearly 2am, and we quickly remembered that tomorrow was a long day. It was hard to leave the Smith. It felt like leaving home. Why leave home?
In the end, we managed to leave, promising to return. After all, home is where the heart is, and one visit to the Smith is all it takes for you heart to call it home.
54 Ahad Ha’Am, Tel Aviv