Drinking With the Ghosts of British Mandate Pastby Tallie Lieberman | 06.11.17
Nilus—33 Allenby Street—is steeped in history. Housed in a former hotel that opened its doors in the 1920s, Nilus is crowded every night with the ghosts of British Mandate past.
Dark wood furniture, a spiral staircase leading from the bar (the former lobby) to guest rooms unoccupied for decades, heavy satin curtains, low-lit lamps—all relics of a time gone by. But when the owners of Nilus, Eline Lev-Har and Moran Alon, met on a trip to Egypt, the past was the last thing on their minds.
“We had had some experience in the Tel Aviv restaurant industry and just wanted to open a place of our own, a place that feels like your home, your living room, where people will remember your name, and also your children’s names,” said Alon from across the long bar. “Nilus is a place where everyone can come for a classic cocktail or a glass of wine, have a great bite to eat. We are the local neighborhood bar.”
This neighborhood haunt, however, draws Tel Avivians from all across the city. According to writer Assaf Gavron, who lives in the far north of the city and who frequents Nilus several times a week for a glass of wine and a nibble, “Nilus is where the non-party people go. But don’t let that fool you—by 11 PM, it will be packed with non-party people and party people alike. You won’t be able to move. But until then, you will find plenty of people like myself, who drive all across town for the relative quiet, the simple, lovely fare, the cozy atmosphere. They know what I am going to order here before I do, and I like that.”
Simple, classic dishes executed with great precision are what you’ll find at Nilus: Excellent chopped liver, made heavenly by an inordinate amount of fried onions, golden grilled cheese, mustardy potato salad served with a dollop of horseradish, fresh artichoke salad chock full of bright greens and cherry tomatoes, classic New York cheesecake and an “exotic” fruit platter, incarnations of which change according to the market, number among them.
And what of frou-frou drinks? At Nilus, the cocktail menu is short and the drinks are stiff. They do particularly well with vodka, gin, Campari and, the Nilus favorite, ouzo.
Come alone or come with friends. Either way, the memory of your night here will surely linger.
Nilus, 33 Allenby Street, 03-644-4627. Read more about Nilus in the Telavivian City Guide.
Photo credit: Sarale Gur Lavy.