Bar Giora, a bar/restaurant/café/live music space, is a spot so ubiquitous that even in this here-one-day-gone-tomorrow city, you feel secure that it will always be there, standing proud, across from Dizengoff Centre.
Having changed hands over the years, the current owners have been running the show for the last five and offering their current Israeli bistro style menu for the last year.
The maze like multi-level space that is Bar Giora begins with a glass-walled outdoor-feel area filled with tables and chairs, i.e. the dining area. Head straight through the open threshold and you will come to the bar; dark and mysterious, candlelight and small cozy tables surround the long bar. Had you veered right before the threshold and headed up the stairs, you would have found the billiard/private event room boasting its own bar and some couches along with two billiard tables. This room is occasionally open to the public, so call ahead of you have a game of pool in mind. Finally, head back down the stairs and continue on for another flight to find the source of the live music. This lower level has a small platform stage bathed in sexy red light, a bar, tables and chairs and a large L-shaped sofa from which to enjoy the show.
Back up the stairs and Heather and I settled into our desired space – the dining room of course. Not having been here in years, we weren’t sure what to expect from the menu, standard café fare or something of a little more culinarily inclined.
As our starters of sautéed spinach with feta cheese and beef carpaccio were set down before us we realized we were in for a treat. The spinach was tender and flavourful featuring lots of onion, garlic and rosemary and kicked up another notch with cubes of creamy salty feta. Not only was the dish bread-dipping delicious, but it was also one we hadn’t really seen before. The carpaccio was standard but well executed – perfect for when you want a classic dish of ultra-thinly sliced raw beef, balsamic vinegar, parmesan and arugula.
A nip into the bar so Heather could enjoy a mid-course nicotine indulgence (as a separate room, smokers will be happy to hear that there is still a bar to be smoked in) and before long we were onto our main dishes: the Persian daily special, homemade by the owner’s mum (shhhh, don’t tell) consisted of 3 generous beef and mutton patties with broad beans and rice. Spice fiend Heather requested some harrissa stat. I had the Curry Chicken, a hot little dish of cubed chicken breast and assorted veggies in a coconut-creamy yellow curry on a bed of basmati rice. We picked at one another’s plates until it was time for the dessert we’d been warned to save room for – the Peter Luger Cookie (connection to New York steakhouse unknown).
After a short wait (you know what they say about good things), a piping hot dish of freshly baked double chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream arrived at our table. Sweet, chewy and chocolaty, with melting ice cream slowly absorbing, the Peter Luger was the height of indulgent American style desserts – and we loved every rich bite! The strawberries topped with mascarpone whipped cream and kadayif were also nice…but our inner children took over and demanded full attention to the cookie.
Perhaps on our next visit we’ll be hip grown ups, enjoy the 2 for 1 cocktails during the 5-9 happy hour(s), play some pool or enjoy some live music…or maybe we’ll just eat another giant cookie.
4 Bar Giora Street, at the corner of Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv