I am not one of those people who believe in "cursed corners". I am a rationalist, what can you do. Take, for instance, the corner of Rothschild Avenue and Mazeh Street in Tel Aviv, where restaurants were opening and closing here on a weekly basis. Then came Chef Omer Miller's Hashulhan (The Table) restaurant that, as they say, which ended this game for years to come.
So I took my time when I was told by friends I had to check out Milgo&Milbar, the new seafood bar that had opened on Rothschild, before it closed. Being a rational person, I did take my time. A good restaurant – I believed and still do – will be good enough to stay, makes no difference what its location is. Then when it was time to celebrate my friend's birthday, I finally decided check it out.
It started with a promise: a small logo. I am so tired of places that announce themselves with a 2 meter high font. Milgo&Milbar, if you don't happen to speak fluent Aramic, means inside & outside, which refers to the restaurant's structure architecture (going from the porch outside to the bar inside), but also to the wine list (which we will get back to), and the kitchen, both of which combine local and foreign elements.
So we took our seats on the bar, and allowed ourselves to absorb the nice atmosphere: Young and pleasant crowd, minus the attitude. This is a happy place you can bring your parents to, where they can get the full Tel Aviv experience.
The menu is based on local fishing produce, which changes according to the catch of the day. It is divided into sections: a vegetable section consists of intriguing dishes such as burnt tomato salad, and cauliflower, and pickled lemon and tahini salad; a raw fish section includes even a rump carpaccio; a la plancha section where fresh fish are included and a crispy – eat with-your-hands section. Most dishes are available in large and small versions.
So we started with an impressive opening: a sliced mackerel, preserved in olive oil and tomato seeds. The fresh fish taste was beautifully combined with soft and not-so-soft scents of clove, fennel and coriander, chopped onions and chili pepper rings. We also tried the fresh hot bread that was served with a simple yet delicious chimichurri dip. We then had two more dishes out of the raw section: the mackerel sashimi, served with sliced orange, radishes and chatta pepper; and tartar and plums over endive. These two proved that this restaurant is really good at balancing the delicate taste of the raw fish with interesting additions that do not take over. We had our starters with Lueria's Gewurztraminer: a gentle wine that excels with scents of honey and flowers, which is building its way up the local Gewurztraminer ladder.
We took a step forward and encountered blue crabs in oranges and crab stock, which is one of the rarest crab dishes I have ever had; it is actually worth the effort of peeling and digging. Another thrilling adventure came straight from the plancha – seafood mixture over eggplant cream and green beans. Here the seafood corresponded with the strong smoked flavor of the eggplant, and the red onions, tomatoes and green beans that were burnt a-la-plancha. You cannot resist this one.
At this point we moved on to a good Australian blend of Gewurztraminer and emerald Riesling – DB – a fresh aromatic combination from the south. In fact, Milgo&Milbar offer a wide variety of local boutique wines, and great foreign wines, especially of the old world (Italy, France), and some of the new world (Australia, Argentina). This is probably a good place to recommend the restaurant's professional and kind service.
We had the local Cremeschnitte version, which consisted of filo pastry leaves filled with passion fruit cream. Yes, it did taste as good as it sounds, and probably even better. Milgo&Milbar – welcome to the neighborhood!