A new chef (well, two really) and a new menu. The Tel Aviv seafood bistro Milgo & Milbar has a delightful light and innovative menu that far exceeds what you’d expect, based on its casual, easy-going décor.

Milgo and milbar is an Aramaic phrase that means “from within and without,” and this place has both. The location is undoubtedly the best in the city – at the corner of Rothschild Boulevard and Habima Square. This is where all the action is, yet a few previous businesses didn’t stay there for long, closing after less than a year. The corner was almost called a cursed location, but then came the Milgo & Milbar people, and voila, it’s suddenly working. And judging by the night we were there, it is working very well.

It was in the midst of the World Cup games, and the seats next to us at the bar were occupied by a group of young women celebrating a few happy occasions and taking advantage of their husbands’ being glued to the TV screens. Up until they arrived, we had the bartender to ourselves. He not only demonstrated his excellent skills with alcoholic beverages but was also very helpful in constructing our meal, making excellent suggestions, describing the dishes with passion and holding his breath until they passed our critique. We thought that the special treatment had something to do with our being there to write about the place, but as soon as the women sat down next to us, we saw him giving the other patrons at the bar the same attention.

The menu was created by chef Or Michaeli and culinary adviser Motti Titman. Unlike some largeego chefs, the two seem happy to share the glory and together come up with great gourmet dishes prepared with skill and knowledge, yet retain the freshness and locality of the growing Israeli regional cuisine.

The menu consisted mainly of fish and seafood dishes, as well as many colorful vegetarian dishes.

We started with the ortiz focaccia with anchovies, tomatoes, arugula and Parmesan (NIS 34) and a colorful cherry tomato salad made with seared tomatoes and caramelized onion on a bed of cream of tomatoes, basil and goat cheese, which was great (NIS 33).

We then turned to the raw fish dishes. These can be ordered as a starter or a main dish. We tried the carpaccio sea fish with lettuce hearts, broccoli, vegetables and filo pastry (NIS 26/48) and the frikabeet sashimi, a very tasty dish that was extremely pretty and, as far as we could judge, took a lot of skill to prepare. The fish was served on a bed of smoked green wheat (friki) and topped with beet foam, lemon cream and light clouds of labane (NIS 27/51). Amazing! We ended the meal with one main course – a duet of fish and calamari served on a bed of green pea puree, with lentils and glazed carrots, cooked in fish stock and mint. It was yet another dish that displayed the chefs’ expertise and knowledge of classic French techniques and creativity.

There were also a few meat dishes and a nice list of desserts on the menu.

The bar was well stocked and the wine list very good.

If you don’t like sitting at the bar, the outside terrace provides a vantage point for people-watching.

But if you do manage to secure a seat at the bar, you will enjoy the occasional complimentary shot of vodka or arak and some extras.

Walking out of Milgo & Milbar, we took a leisurely stroll up and down the boulevard and then hit the huge underground parking below the beautiful Hatarbut (Habima) Square. A perfect evening.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Milgo & Milbar Not kosher 142 Rothschild Blvd., Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 631-4214

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