Names of restaurants, like those of cities, sometimes change according to the dictates of fashion or politics. As Istanbul was once Constantinople and St. Petersburg was once Leningrad, so it is with restaurateur Moshe Cruve's Balthazar. Not long ago it was Deli-Dag.

Although Balthazar now calls itself a restaurant-bar and hopes to attract a late night crowd, not much has changed since my last visit. The large bar was there before, as were the semi-open kitchen and the dark gray walls. The lighting is somewhat more subdued, the pressed white tablecloths have vanished, and the music may be somewhat louder during the late hours of the night. Chef Frank Azulai is once again in charge of the kitchens.

While perusing the menu, we were served a complimentary kir, a pleasant cocktail of white wine and creme de cassis liqueur, and with that came good, warm, raisin-enriched rolls.

My first-course calamari rings and heads, in keeping with Mediterranean tradition, had been lightly coated before deep frying. The calamaris were crisp, fresh and tasty and the garlic and curry rich aioli with the dish added enormously to its charms.

My companion's starter was ravioli filled with goat's cheese, somewhat larger than usual, well-made and flavorful, but what made the dish especially successful was a butter and oil sauce rich in herbs and highlighted by Moroccan-style pickled lemon and small cubes of lightly sauteed vegetables.

My companion's selected main course was listed as scampi with basil, butter and garlic sauce. Despite the romance of the name, scampi are nothing more than large shrimps. By whatever name, those we received were firm, crisp and tasty, and the sauce well-made. If there was a small problem, it was that the sauce and its finely cubed vegetables were far too similar to that served with the raviolis.

I opted for lamb chops - as satisfying as one could want, as they were cooked medium rare, as requested, and had an appealingly sweet, wine-enriched sauce. With them came felafel balls, made from green peas, and served separately were potatoes that had been boiled, then sliced thinly and fried with butter and garlic. The side dishes were hard to resist.

The green salad that we ordered to follow our main courses was fresh and crisp but would have been far better had it been served with a true sauce and not merely sprinkled with lemon juice and olive oil.

For dessert we sampled a rose-water and pistachio- rich mahlabi (irresistible!) and a banana and caramel "trifle," one of those more or less English creations somewhere between a mousse and a pudding. Both were great fun to eat and were served well by the good espresso coffee we received.

The bill for two came to NIS 325 to which a bottle of the pleasant Albizzia Chardonnay of Italian producer Frescobaldi added NIS 80. The ambience is pleasant, the service professional and friendly and chef Azulai's style, which reflects Mediterranean simplicity and generosity, makes the place worth visiting. But the price for a full meal tends toward the high side.

Balthazar: 13 Totzeret Ha'aretz Street, Tel Aviv. Open daily 12:00-24:00 or later. Tel: 03-6956216.

Basically French

Some restaurants change names, others change location, as Tamara shifted several years ago from Ramat Gan to Tel Aviv. As before, the menu is basically French, that is, the kind of basic French dishes offered in a working man's cafe, rather than in a prestigious restaurant.

After sipping a complimentary and pleasant gin and Campari cocktail, I went on to a first course in which the heads and stems of champignon mushrooms had been sauteed with garlic and herbs and then treated to a garlic and sweet cream sauce. Nothing complex or sophisticated here, but the simple pleasures, especially for those with a passion for garlic. Such a large quantity was used, the dish was almost perfumed.

My main course, rings of pork fillet in a red wine and basil sauce was good, the sauce containing a generous number of green peppercorns to add a bit of spice. Had the pork not been a bit overcooked, the dish would have been even better. For dessert I closed out with a cheese terrine. Alas, this offering failed for the cheese was too grainy and somewhat too sour in flavor. The frozen raspberries spooned over the cheese failed to save it.

Prices here are a more-or-less fixed price affair, the bill being determined by the cost of one's main course. In my case, the bill for one, including dessert and coffee, came to NIS 96; a half-bottle of Gamla Cabernet Sauvignon of the Golan Heights Winery added NIS 65.

The restaurant, with yellow and brown walls, tile floors and a few old photos on the walls, lacks intimacy and has a somewhat too commercial appearance. A good bet for those in the area at lunchtime, but not as appealing for a more leisurely or comfortable dinner.

Tamara: 95 Hahashmona'im Street, Tel Aviv. Open daily 12:00-23:00. Tel 03-6240707.