The interior of Milgo and Milbar. .
(photo credit: ELIRAN AVITAL)
As the temperatures rise and the heat wave proceeds to engulf Tel Aviv in a tight embrace, nothing can beat the refined pleasure of sipping on a chilled glass of fine white wine or a sizzling rose.
Even better is the combination between the produce of an Israeli vineyard and light but filling dishes based on local seafood.
This winning match is just what Milgo & Milbar’s new summer menu offers- a welcome respite from the scorching sun and a sophisticated nosh for the hungry Tel Avivian on the go.
Milgo & Milbar have recently teamed up with the Castel Winery (also known as Domaine Du Castel) to offer Israelis an opportunity to experience a true European lunch that strikes the perfect balance between generous but medium-sized meals and a variety of summer wines.
Diners who walk into the small and intimate space of the restaurant are asked to forget their prejudice about what a business lunch is all about. Or in other words: you can step out of your office at noon for a quick and elegant meal, enjoy a glass or two of some premium Israeli wine and not have to drunkenly stumble back to work (but you probably should return to your office or your boss will definitely have some questions for you).
In Europe, the concept is an inseparable part of the dining experience, and it’s exciting to visit an Israeli establishment that has taken it upon itself to educate the local crowd about the pleasures of wining and dining.
If you need any further convincing, here’s a fun fact: for the next month, every diner who orders a business meal at the restaurant is welcome to enjoy a glass of one of Castel’s cool, summer wines from the ‘La Vie’ series for free.
“In the past it was common to think that wine is for older people from a high socio-economic background that ‘get wine.’ After 25 years of activity, we in the winery are glad to see that this old notion has been refuted: the younger crowd also appreciates and enjoys drinking good wine, and not just in the evening,” says Ariel Ben Zaken, CEO of the Castel Winery. “Drinking a glass of wine enhances your culinary experience during lunch,” he guarantees.
Well, now that the beverages are covered, you may ask yourself- but what about the food?
Worry not. Chef Moti Titman is keeping it fresh and creative, offering patrons several new and exciting dishes that compliment the wine and awaken the taste buds.
Diners are welcome to grab a seat on one of the bar stools around the main round table inside, that give you a a head-on look at Titman and his team as they concoct the mouth-watering lunch in the open kitchen right in front of you.
Among the highlights is the grouper fillet joined by baked Jerusalem artichoke, zucchini and white horseradish.
This dish is definitely a crowd pleaser, and for a good reason too- while it may not be the most sophisticated one on the menu, it displays Titman’s understanding of what a wholesome, generous meal truly is and his magic touch with fresh vegetables, which shines through in every dish.
The hints of horseradish here and there spice up the fish without overpowering the rest of the spices and tastes, the artichoke and zucchini are a juicy joy and the accompanying vanilla-artichoke cream (along with the crispy sweet potato chips) are a delightful surprise.
A less exciting option is the salmon confit. It is offered with scorched beetroot, which is nothing short of a brilliant addition that is also the redeeming quality of this dish.
The salmon itself fails to rise to the expectations, and tasted quite dry despite the fresh mint and coriander that were scattered on top of it and the smooth, refreshing, green jalapeno pepper sauce that was innovative, tasty but not too overbearing for those who prefer to steer clear of extra spice.
Another companion to this otherwise straightforward dish was a glass of white Castel wine, which merged wonderfully with the flavors of the sauce and the greens.
But the real stunner of this lunch was the mussels and crab meat dish. Here Titman showed that he’s not just innovative but also has some true grace and skill; mussels are one of the hardest seafood dishes to prepare and can be so lackluster and disappointing if overcooked.
Some chefs attempt to lend this delicacy their own interpretation, and by doing that seem to miss the mark altogether.
Here Titman demonstrated that he has real respect and understanding of the classics. The fresh tomatoes and smoked cabbage that enveloped the mussels were pure deliciousness. The mussels themselves were just right, and the miso sauce was so divine that one couldn’t help but dig into it with the remains of the baked bread.
In short, this business meal is everything it proclaims to be and then some. With every bite and sip of wine diners are more and more likely to forget that Milgo & Milbar is a restaurant-bar overlooking the sun-dappled Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv and not an intimate bistro.
So if you want your meal to provide an elegant getaway from the typical Middle Eastern atmosphere, Milgo & Milbar is just the spot for you.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Check out Milgo & Milbar’s seasonal refreshments and sip on some fine Israeli wine at Rothschild 142. The business meals along with special deal are available from Sunday through Thursday between 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. until July 18.