Pretzels and beer

Cold brews, hot nights, picnic tables, pretzels and great cheeses add up to a pleasant experience at Tel Aviv's Carmela Bistro's beer garden.

carmela bistro 88 (photo credit: )
carmela bistro 88
(photo credit: )
From the moment chef Daniel Zach of Tel Aviv's Carmela Bistro set up classic white picnic tables for his Bavarian-style beer garden, I was rather anxious to check it out. Having left my native Germany a number of years back, I fondly recalled sitting on my father's lap while he sipped the suds, noshing on tasty delights while happily chatting with his friends. So I attended this beer garden with my boyfriend, joining the numerous revelers gathered to sample the Paulaner wheat beer available on draft, as well as some of the tasty fare that Zach has put together for this special environment. We took our seats at one of the long tables next to the white, concrete porch of the beautiful, distressed building that houses the establishment. The sounds of '60s rock and roll, imported from America, provided a very pleasant soundtrack - for a while - reminded my boyfriend of the music his parents listened to while growing up, sufficiently impressing me with his disturbing knowledge of Dion's lyrics. We started with the cheese platter (NIS 48), which presented a wonderful selection accompanied by croutons and poached pears. Suffice it to say, despite the other tasty dishes sampled, this was my favorite. The cold cut platter (NIS 48) was decent but be sure to order the house bread alongside it should you go this route. Of course, we sampled the pretzels (NIS 9), homemade with great attention paid to authenticity. For the main dish we split the grilled sausage with potato salad and mustard (NIS 48). Nice, the sausage was too thick to be served with potato salad and we had to wait a while for the mustard and cutlery to arrive. If you're a vegetarian, stick with the cheese platter. As the meal progressed it became clear that the street noise was getting a bit out of hand - especially with the music pumped out of the hipster bar next door. I would suggest that Zach pull the plug on his own soundtrack, at least to lower the noise level overall. Having started our evening with beer by the half liter (it's also available as a third or liter), we later switched to the cocktails, at least to give them a whirl. I tried the Caibeerovka (NIS 35) - an impressive combination of lemon, vodka, ice, sugar and beer, and the Bitterbeer (NIS 35) - of Martini bitter, tonic and beer. If you order the latter you had better be a Campari-type. But in both cases, I can't complain at these innovations, though I'm comfortable stating that they are not my thing. Finally, for dessert we had a tasty cheesecake and a disappointing apricot sorbet. It was too sweet as if designed for the American palate; it was impossible to identify the actual fruit. But, for the atmosphere, the beer, the cheese plate and, oh yes, the pretzels, this beer garden is a great place to while your time with a cool brew on a hot Tel Aviv night. Carmela Bistro - on the corner of Rambam 14 and Hatavor 46 just off the Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall; (03) 516-1417 - is open Sun.-Thurs. And Sat. from noon to 11 p.m. and Fri. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The beer garden is open Sun.-Thurs. From 6 p.m. to midnight (though the kitchen still closes at 11 p.m.) and Fri. from noon to 6 p.m. The writer was a guest of the restaurant.