The Next Small Thing

“We started off our bar night with a litchi Mojito and a Pink cocktail. Both were excellent, and we understood that even such drinks require skillful mixing…” Nadav Avidan discovered Belgo Bar in Kfar Saba, a bar that puts the ‘neighborhood’ in ‘Neighborhood-Bar’ and a place well worth the trip from Tel Aviv.

One of the things I love the most is finding a bar that isn’t known to everyone else on the planet. There is something about the hippest and trendiest places that bums me out to a degree – yes, it is fun being tuned into the what is hot and what is not, and knowing which bar is the “place to be” these days, but once you are there, crammed in between dozens of other “you”s, it is hard to call it a fun night. This is why my favorite bars are those in alleys and unexpected locations, places known to a good number of people but where the barkeep recognizes you when you come in and in which the atmosphere feels like that of home.

So when Orgad told me of Belgo Bar in Kfar Saba’s industrial zone, I thought to myself that it was a bit far from Tel Aviv but that it sounds like the sort of place I am looking for. After all, outside of the big city, the nightlife is different in every way: the clientele, the atmosphere, the prices, and in all other aspects.

The drive to the bar was much shorter than I had anticipated – take the expressway towards “Kochav Yair,” turn right after the exit to Highway #6, head into the industrial zone which is called “Atir Yeda,” straight some more, and you’re there. Even the pre-entrance was great. There was parking, real parking, with convenient space, right by the bar. Try finding a bar like that in Tel Aviv.

We entered and immediately started humming ‘smoke on the water,’ which was playing at that moment. We were greeted by the cute (very cute, in fact) waitress, Tal, who would attend to us throughout our evening. We preferred sitting inside the bar and not outside, due to my attempt to avoid the flu for the past couple of weeks. We didn’t regret the decision. The bar’s d?cor is decidedly not that of a ‘neighborhood’ bar, as we would normally thing of one. It is not a dark nook, but rather spacious, designed in clean, simple, and pleasant lines, relaxed colors, and gives off the sensation of the bars you see in the movies. Tal presented us with both the alcohol and dining menus, which were both interestingly designed and offering a large selection of food and drink.

We started off our bar night with a litchi Mojito for Orgad and a Pink cocktail (apple and peach schnapps, Southern Comfort, and sour mix) for myself. Both were excellent, as odd as it seems to heap praises on such relatively calm drinks. We suddenly understood that even such drinks require skillful mixing. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I were to say that these were among the 2 best and most carefully prepared cocktails I have had in any bar. The food arrived with the drinks – hot strips of sirloin in an Asian marinade, which Orgad loved so much that he refused to share, and slightly-spicy merguez sausages, which were served with a baked potato. The dish was delicious, filling, and generous in portion-size.

A couple of beers were in order. We were also served a seafood mix – shrimp, calamari, and mussels in a Thai sauce – an excellent dish which disappeared as fast as it was served. We continued the journey of alcohol. I ordered a Limoncello, while Orgad opted for a cocktail with an even more dubious name than my “pink” cocktail of not so long ago: “vanilla.” It is made of apple schnapps and vanilla sour – seemingly harmless, although Orgad would disagree. He is a man who knows how to hold his liqueur, and I have never seen him even a little tipsy. He was forced to admit, yet again, that this bar knows how to mix a drink, and that their attention to the fine details of the drinks’ components can give even the mildest of cocktails a real kick.

At this point, when we were comfortable in our surroundings, we took the opportunity to have a quick drink with Ofer, the owner, who sat at the adjacent table with some friends. As it turns out, the bar has been in business for three years now, not bad for a place which is located off the beaten path and known to the well-informed. It is considered the first-