When President J.F Kennedy was murdered I wasn't even born yet. When Prime Minister Rabin was murdered I was in Haifa's central bus station. But when we were told about Gilad Shalit's return home, I got to toast for him at the Offside pub in Jaffa. Come to think of it, Offside was made for celebrations. Its location – a 2 minute walking distance from Bloomfield stadium – makes it the ultimate spot for a pre-game drink, a winning celebration (red or yellow – it's your choice) or a good place to drown one's losing sorrow.
But let's start at the beginning. D is the optimal adventure mate. Dessert trip, mountain trip, mall trip, what have you – he's your man. So we traveled to the frontier, which is the area between Florentine neighborhood in Tel Aviv and Jaffa's outskirts, only to make the next night scene discovery – an ancient stone building on Salame road, which is gathering round it many football and alcohol fans.
The Offside owners, as it turns out, have interned at the Segev Express restaurant in Herzliya before taking over this stone structure and decorating it with soft lighting and friendly melodic music. The night we visited the Offside bar, it was divided into 2 teams: at the street level some people were celebrating the return of the soldier from captivity while watching the news on the big screen (which is usually used for sport events); the upper floor was where a group of football fans gathered around for a playStation match.
Offside keeps a compressed alcohol menu: 3 taps of beer (Goldstar, Heineken and Paulaner) and selected representatives of whiskey and vodka drinks. Being great fans of German dark wheat beers, we took the Paulaner that was carefully poured to our glasses. It turns out that these days, the Oktoberfest version of this beer is marketed; it resembles the normal lager more. Offside has returned to an old custom of serving hot, spiced chickpeas with beers. D and I were hoping this will be the beginning of a beautiful trend.
Offside's kitchen is modest and precise – sandwiches, bruschettas, salads and tapas. We started with some warm mushrooms with Labane cheese - an uncommon combination that turned out very interesting. Small pita breads were a perfect addition to this meal. We also had the Zaalouk bruschetta (roasted eggplants, spice herbs and feta cheese) which was a nice delight, great escort for our second beer (Heineken, classic). At a moment's decision we also ordered the house salad, which was great and simple – lettuce, radishes, purple onions, pomegranate seeds, with delicate vinaigrette dressing rapping them all together. On the screen above us we saw a first smile by Aviva and Noam Shalit, which made us – seen-it-all men – sob a little.
We proposed a toast with one finale chaser, and went our way, knowing where we'd be celebrating our next football win.