Temptation beckons

Along Rehov Allenby - ground zero for Tel Aviv's seedy nighttime scene - at least one bar does what it can to keep itself above the stereotype.

tel aviv pub 88 (photo credit: )
tel aviv pub 88
(photo credit: )
Along Rehov Allenby - ground zero for Tel Aviv's seedy nighttime scene - at least one bar does what it can to keep itself above the stereotype. While the fa ade of the Temptation Bar fits in enough with the others that sandwich the entrance, certain details suggest that this pub has its own identity. Walking past the large bouncer and on through the heavy wooden door on your left, it is nearly impossible to miss Eve, spinning slowly in her perpetual dance. Eve is a mannequin covered in mirror mosaics that give her the appearance of a female disco ball in a blue bikini. A large apple-shaped sign - that forbidden fruit - invites patrons into an atmosphere dominated by red light and accented by dark wood. The bar itself is well stocked and offers two noteworthy features. First, the drinks are mixed with good alcoholic brands, including Gordon's, Grants and Jose Cuervo. Second, there is a small but tasty selection of home-brewed liqueurs, such as a refreshingly dry cinnamon concoction - a spicy mix that builds off the cinnamon by adding ginger and coriander - and even an artichoke liqueur. As for the food, Temptation serves up a good selection of pub fare with a Mexican flavor, including tortilla pizza, quesadillas, chicken burritos, fried calamari, shrimps in a Pernod sauce and a selection of sandwiches. It's very important that the food not become the main attraction, though, notes Gidon Marco, the 38-year-old proprietor, explaining why the food is served without forks or knives. For Marco, who came to Israel from South Africa at the age of five, a bar is not just a place to profit from selling alcohol. It must be a place where someone can come to relax, blow off steam and play. It has to be as much about the stories you will recount the following day as it is about the night itself. One sign that Temptation succeeds in that sphere is the slow turnover of bar staff. Marco says top bartenders in Tel Aviv usually work at an establishment for no more than six months - about the time it takes to build up a reputation and then lose it to the next hot spot. At Temptation Bar, which he opened three and half years ago, some of the staff has been around for years. The music also is a pleasant surprise. On this particular night, there was plenty of rock mixed with some unexpected ditties, with the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel featured along with the likes of Led Zeppelin. Around 1 a.m., about the time most bars in Tel Aviv make the same unfortunate switch, Temptation changed from this very listenable soundtrack to cookie cutter MTV club music. Luckily, Temptation didn't give in completely to the dark side and still treated its patrons to songs that inspired some drinkers to sing along. Overall, Temptation does a fair job of creating a place where you can find what you're looking for without feeling out of place. At the end of the night, it seemed perfectly natural to be sipping a bourbon at the bar while a few women were dancing on it. Temptation Bar, Rehov Allenby 35. Opens every day at 9:30 p.m. The kitchen stays open until 4 a.m. The bar keeps its doors open until at least 5 a.m.