More than a year had elapsed since my last visit to Milgo & Milbar, the Tel Aviv restaurant helmed by acclaimed Chef Moti Titman. Yet it took me barely ten minutes—the time it took to sip a pre-dinner drink and eat an appetizer—to remember that I was eating at one of the city’s finest restaurants.
The talent in the kitchen extends to the bartending staff as well. The cocktail list features nine specialty cocktails and unique Milgo & Milbar takes on classic cocktails.
We selected the Beet and Lime—vodka, homemade beet syrup and lime, garnished with two large slices of raw beet and a twist of lemon peel—and the Ginger Mojito, which blends two kinds of rum, mint and homemade ginger syrup, garnished with lemon, mint and ginger. Both cocktails were very refreshing—the former sweet with a tart finish, and the latter fruity with a kick.
The extensive food menu comprises four sections: Appetizers, Mezzanine Courses, Entrées, and Daily Specials. Most dishes are based on fish and seafood, although there are also meat and vegan options.
Officially, the restaurant does not offer a tasting menu, but our friendly and knowledgeable waitress volunteered to craft a meal for us based on our preferences and dislikes, promising to bring us the best dishes of the evening. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.
First came the Ortiz Anchovy Focaccia, the round flat Italian bread piled high with the salty fish, spicy tomato salsa, purple onion, cilantro and shavings of parmigiano reggiano cheese. Each bite of the pizza-like dish yielded a little explosion of flavor, which then subsided into a pleasant tingle of heat.
This was followed by White Fish Tartare with Green Mango, artistically topped with curlicues of razor-thin slices of kohlrabi. The nameless white fish rotates on the menu, depending on the fresh catch of the day; on our evening, it was grouper.
The mixture of raw fish and unripe fruit also incorporated radish, fresh ginger, raisins, chopped herbs and spicy almonds, and was served alongside a piquant, bright green Jalapeno cream. With the chili cream kept separate, it was easy to modulate the dish’s heat, while the tartare itself manifested a marvelous interplay of flavors and textures.
Continuing the raw fish theme, next was tuna sashimi, with red tuna the “white fish sashimi” fresh catch of the day. The sashimi -- served with chopped charred vegetables, leeks and black sesame tuile—practically melted in the mouth, while the thin sweet wafers added both crunch and welcome counterpoint to the spicy chili.
Our only mezzanine course dish was Scallops with shimeji and oyster mushrooms and black pasta in fish stock. The tender scallops—like little medallions of filet mignon from the sea—were among the best I have had in Israel, while the al dente shell pasta was the first time I had seen black pasta in that distinctive shape.
Representing the main course category in our dinner was the Grouper Fillet and Baked Jerusalem Artichoke in a Jerusalem artichoke-vanilla cream. The fish steak was cooked perfectly, and enhanced nicely by the exquisite sauce.
Four desserts are listed on the menu, from which we selected the cheesecake with lemon cream frosting and berries, which turned out to be fresh raspberries and blueberries. The heavenly cheesecake was accompanied as well by shards of meringue and black sesame Ice cream, resulting in a totally decadent finale to a truly memorable meal.
Throughout our meal, the service was impeccable, as the thoroughly professional staff anticipated every need and desire.
While our experience was certainly worthy of consideration as a holiday feast, Milgo and Milbar has an annual tradition of offering exclusive repasts in honor of the holidays of Tishrei.
The Rosh Hashanah banquet—comprising four courses paired with six wines—will be reprised on Sukkot (September 23), while Yom Kippur is bracketed by a special brunch served on September 18 (two seatings, at 9:00am and 11:00am) and a post-fast “decadent sandwich” menu served throughout the evening on September 19, beginning at 9:00pm.
Moreover, the restaurant is offering a special children’s menu throughout the intermediate days of Sukkot (September 25 until October 1st).
Milgo and Milbar. Not kosher. 142 Rothschild Blvd., Tel Aviv. Tel. (054) 544-0826