These days, my brother takes it upon himself to be the Israeli Defense Forces' "most adorable soldier ". Last week, after he ate a lot of desert dust in the army, he came home for a weekend off. Even before we could enjoy the fact that he was home for more than 24 hours (and awake at that), he decided to go out and shake off his dusty feeling in Tel Aviv's nightlife. So this weekend, as soon as he crossed the border into Tel Aviv, I managed to nab him for a few hours of quality time at Miguel.
Our waitress at Miguel was smiling girl called Shari, who continued to smile patiently until we decided what exactly we were ordering. While listening to the awful details of my brother's army exercises, the excellent merguez sausages arrived at the table and were set down right in the centre just as my brother was saying that his unit "decided to tramp around the dessert in the middle of the night, and when we passed by this cave we heard a blood curdling noise, which sounded like angry aliens." Oh, army days. A few minutes later, a dish of fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, was placed on our table. We dug into the dish with some good bread, while it held witness to a few more of my brother's Top Gun stories.
By this point, our glasses of cava were nearing empty, so we ordered a draught Goldstar and a tasty mojito that carried us through to the mains. The mixed seafood, including calamari, mussels, shrimp and crab, came in a lovely sweet and spicy coconut milk sauce. An amazing dish of wondrously soft chicken livers in red wine, leek and raisin sauce on a bed of tasty mashed potatoes disappeared almost as fast as it arrived. A whole fried sea bass in garlic herb sauce was juicy and very tasty.
At this point, around when my brother showed me pictures on his digital camera of the stone oven that he built out in the desert and the pizza his unit baked in it, we became conscious of something that we'd actually already understood at the start of the evening when we'd perused the menu. But only now, after we'd tasted, seen the size of the dishes and been personally introduced to the bottom of every plate – did we agree that something totally inexplicable is happening at Miguel. Here we were, sitting opposite the sea (view, check), everything is delicious (food, check) and the prices bear no resemblance to the usual prices I've seen around Tel Aviv in the last 5 years. With my initial glance at the menu, I was sure that the prices must be referring to tapas size dishes, or that the product was going to be a bit questionable because from the third table you can see the sea if you look to the left, so obviously the place will be full of people willing to pay and shut up. But no! Inexplicably, Miguel offers a lovely place, with great atmosphere (very cosmopolitan, due to the various tourists coming from the hotel upstairs), a talented chef and prices that offer some semblance of sanity in this little city of ours.
As for my soldier brother, if the army still resembles what I remember, while I write this article my brother is probably trying to warm up against the bone-chilling wind, drinking very sweet tea out of a blue plastic cup in the mess hall. As a token of my sympathy, I'm going to make myself a cup of coffee.
88 HaYarkon, Tel Aviv