If I had my Druker's

The winning concept of TA's new French bistro is simple: good food and drinks, reasonable prices, warm ambience and, of course, location.

'Location, location, location," is said to be the key to a restaurant's success. However, many people will drive miles out-of-their-way to eat at their favourite restaurant and many eateries in prime locations still fail. Druker's on Tel Aviv's charming Montefiore Street is a new French bistro with more going for it than choice location. Opened just a few weeks ago, it is a true find, and the word is out that this place is "in." The winning concept is simple: good food and drinks, reasonable prices, warm ambience and, of course, location. Montefiore is a picturesque Tel Aviv boulevard, with its renovated houses, interesting architecture, many coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Sandwiched between Allenby and Nahalat Binyamin, the entrance is small and the restaurant welcoming and intimate, with minimum decor and soft lighting. There's a lovely outdoor terrace in the back, soon to be filled with tables and chairs for al fresco dining, in addition to the main dining area and long bar. There is a separate bar menu, if you are looking for a drink and light meal (the roast beef sandwiches are supposed to be delicious). Watching the patrons at the bar enjoying their cocktails, there was no way we weren't going to try a margarita. It really was good, served with salt around the glass and made with top-quality ingredients - the real McCoy as opposed to a mix often served at many places these days. The young barwoman was delighted when we complimented the beverage. She boasted that her other cocktails are as good. Off to an excellent start, we began our meal with several shared first courses: beef carpaccio, asparagus, grilled eggplant, shrimp and calamari - both deep fried and the fresh cold version, as well as the cold roast beef with mustard. All were served with the crustiest of home made bread, olive oil and butter. All of the first courses were tasty, well seasoned with fresh ingredients and the servings generous. After all these dishes we realized that oysters were also on the menu and we just had to partake of one each. The oysters are flown in fresh every couple of days and they were meaty and juicy served on a bed of ice with lemon. At NIS 15 an oyster this was a well-deserved luxury. In addition, there are mussels in white wine, beef tartare (which needs to be ordered two hours in advance), vine leaves, salads and many other choices. We should mention that we were four diners and shared two main courses between us, the delicate veal piccata and the chicken livers in wine. Both were excellent. Fish, various kinds of steaks including chateaubriand for two (NIS 210), sandwiches, etc are also on the menu. And, as for dessert, the millefeuille pastry with custard filling is as good as you would get at any top restaurant in France. Vodka aficionado and owner Shabi Bahar, previously of L'Entrecote in Jerusalem and Hippopotame in Tel Aviv, adds a lot to the atmosphere, gliding between tables, chatting to the patrons at the bar and in the main dining area, all the while checking on everything and everyone. Shabi is quite a character and loves his work, to which he has returned after taking a few years' break from the restaurant industry. It was during this time that he learned how to make the millefeuille dessert at his own insistence while at a restaurant in France. The exasperated manager had no choice but to take him into the kitchen to show him how. One member of our group, his mouth drooling, reminisced about the Roquefort salad he had at Hippopotame. "One of my specialities," says Bahar, "and it is also served at Druker's," which, by the way, is named after his wife. "I just love lettuce....only use fresh ingredients and simple sauces," he adds. Bahar has an excellent ally in chef Gil Yehuda, who produces exactly the food Shabi wants. It is all fresh and prepared on the spot, even the delicious bread. The vodka selection and wine list are anything but simple. Bahar invited us to taste a vodka shot with fresh oysters and a special Russian vodka with gold flecks and a name unknown - or rather unpronounceable. Two guests brought their own top-quality wine and paid the corking fee, an option not available at most restaurants in Israel. Items on the bar menu range from NIS 15 to NIS 37 with cocktails at NIS 30. On the main menu: first courses from NIS 25 to 50, main courses from NIS 45 to 90 and sandwiches are NIS 35. There is a children's menu for NIS 45 and a business lunch served until 6 p.m. Druker's, 17 Montefiore Street, Tel Aviv, (03) 566-3535. Open daily from noon to 12:30 a.m. Not kosher