Bistro, bistro to Pastis!

Pastis proves that a bistro should not only be a place to eat fine food, but a meeting spot for good times with friends.

Nobody seems to agree on the origin of the word "bistro." The most often quoted history of the word is that it is Russian, and that during the fall of Napoleon in 1815, Russian soldiers stormed the cafes and small restaurants in France shouting "bistro, bistro" (hurry hurry). Whatever its origin, everyone agrees that today the word refers to a small and unpretentious restaurant, a simple place to enjoy a glass of quality wine, a fine lunch or dinner, or just a slice of homemade pate with crusty bread. Pastis in the center of Tel Aviv proves that a bistro should not only be a place to eat fine food, but a meeting spot for good times with friends. Dining at Pastis is a real gastronomic experience. Talented chef Eyal Lavi knows how to build depth and flavor into the food he prepares. The dining room isn't too large, but it feels comfortable enough. The staff is attentive but not overly so, allowing you to eat and drink at leisure. The decor is neat and simple, with a long bar next to a large mirror and wide windows overlooking Rothschild Boulevard. Once seated, there are delights galore to warm both the heart and body on cold nights. We started with rich textured crab bisque in cream and brandy (NIS 18) and a colorful eggplant terrine with feta cheese, roasted peppers and pesto (NIS 34). Both dishes were remarkable, and extremely tasty. For the main course we had lamb kebabs (NIS 67). It's a dish on the menu of almost every restaurant I've been to recently, but at Pastis the meat was perfectly cooked, and served with tomatoes Provencal, mint and yogurt sauce. A dish of sea bream served on a sizzling iron pan (NIS 79) proved to be an excellent choice, as the succulent fish was covered with delicate yogurt sauce drizzled with sumac and hyssop (zaatar). Desserts were equally delicious, with tart tatin accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream (NIS 28) and a rich chocolate mousse with a layer of cr me brulee hiding inside. Three types of business lunch are offered at Pastis from Sunday to Thursday between 12:30 and 6 p.m. For NIS 47, diners can choose from a variety of main courses, as well as between soft drinks and beer and a choice of dessert or a starter for an additional NIS 10. The NIS 72/82 business lunch includes a starter/dessert, soft drink or beer and a main course. Pastis, Sderot Rothschild 73, Tel Aviv. Open Sunday to Thursday from 12 noon until the last guest leaves, Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until the last guest leaves. Tel: (03) 629-0964 (not kosher)