Opened just two months ago, The Local on Tel Aviv’s bustling Ibn Gvirol Street has officially become my new favorite casual neighborhood place. Lacking any pretenses, this restaurant embodies everything I could ask for in a go-to spot: creative and well-crafted cocktails, a simple yet diverse and well-executed menu, friendly service and a chill vibe.
First impressions are of a place that knows its nature: sleek, modern and uncomplicated. A huge, impressively stocked bar covers a large section of the bistro, while high ceilings, plush chairs and wooden tables come together to create a sophisticated, lowkey mood.
Vodka aficionado and manager Daniel Kislasy, previously of Lavan in Jerusalem and Messe in Tel Aviv, adds a lot to the atmosphere, gliding between tables and chatting to the patrons at the bar and in the main dining area, all the while checking on everything and everyone.
Kislasy was extremely helpful. I didn’t know what to kind of drink to order, so he asked me about a few of my favorite things and proceeded to make me something that was perfect.
He did this for both me and my dining partner for all our beverages, each one better than the last.
We began our cocktail journey with The Local (NIS 39), a mix of vodka, Benedictine, lime, lemongrass and fresh citrus peel; and the Chacho (NIS 39), a blend of gin, apple liqueur, ginger extract, mint and apple juice.
The cocktails were out of this world.
The boys and girls at the bar know what they’re doing and know what they want to do.
To try to absorb the alcohol suddenly swirling around in our stomachs, we dug into some hearty appetizers. First up was grilled artichokes (NIS 36). It was so flavorful that we didn’t even need to add the lemon vinaigrette that accompanied the dish. This was followed by spinach and goat cheese ravioli (NIS 38), which was equally good. We continued with slices of rump steak (NIS 38) on a bed of garden peas.
Tender and juicy, the steak was cooked perfectly – medium rare with a nice char on the outside.
In between appetizers, Kisslasy invited us to taste vodka shots, which are infused with various flavors such as vanilla, strawberry and coconut.
They were all delicious.
For the main course, we started off with seared chicken livers (NIS 54) on an eggplant puree. I am not such a liver fan, but my dining partner was highly impressed, adding that the livers were perfectly seasoned and tenderized, which gave them great flavor.
This was followed by a mullet sandwich (NIS 72) stuffed with roasted pepper on a black lentil and baby carrot salad. The fish was cooked perfectly, with crispy skin. I could really taste the meatiness and freshness of the mullet. It was great to see a chef using ordinary ingredients to produce such a wonderful plate of food.
For dessert, the sweet offerings provided the sugar fix needed to end the meal. We tried the kadaif (NIS 39) and the nemesis chocolate cake.
In a city where every establishment vies to be the best and everyone is jaded toward anything less than extraordinary, rarely do I find myself truly surprised anymore. But my entire experience at The Local far exceeded anything I had expected.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
22 Ibn Gvirol, Tel Aviv