So the idea of this restaurant was conceived almost 2 years ago by ownerYuda Schlass, who many know as the Hipster part of Hasid + Hipster. Yuda has been in the kosher restaurant scene for years and I first met him when he was doing sandwiches in his apartment. Fast forward years later, he and his chefElior Balbulare making us re-think what Israeli cuisine is really about. There is no schwarma here, yet there is falafel but not in a pita but rather a deconstructed falafel they call falafel tartare.
But before we get to the food, Chef Balbul is a name you're going to hear a lot about. I first met him over a year ago when he did a one night pop up collaboration in Brooklyn with other chefs for the New York Wine and Food Festival. He worked with mega chef Meir Adoni in Israel and he brings the same out of the box, bold flavors that Adoni and many Israeli restaurants are now doing. Not really seen here in the States under kosher supervision, the cuisine is certainly different and you need to really study the menu to know what you're getting (but be assured it's going to be accompanied by tehina). Although, it is fun sometimes to not read the 10 different ingredients and just enjoy the complexity of a dish.
In some way, I would say the restaurant is Pardes like in that it's highly routed in seasonal ingredients, there are many layers to each dish and these items are presented to us in a specific manner. But what you're supposed to do is take your fork, move everything around, grab all the components of the dish and dig in, after all that's the Israeli mentality? You're encouraged to share plates as you taste really bold and strong flavor combinations. These are not dishes you can create at home, and isn't that the point of going out? Expand your pallet, be adventurous.
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The open kitchen restaurant has only 50+ seats, counting the 6 seats at the bar that will be used as a chef's table. There one will be able to order from a prix fixe menu where you will get specialized one on one attention with the chef all night. He will bring you dish after dish until you say dayenu (enough) and dessert will be served. Schlass has many ideas in store for the restaurant like Sunday family style serving, but that will come down the road. But because the restaurant is somewhat "cozy" you do sit beside your neighbor. For some in may be too close, for others, it lends to the togetherness of the restaurant and communal feel - they actually have a communal table when you first enter the restaurant. Happens to be that my wife and I were sitting next to two lovely ladies who were big fans of the group (that made them even lovelier) but it really was a nice, comfortable atmosphere that everyone will enjoy. Now keep in mind, they are not even officially opened, so expect them to figure out dishes that work and presentations that need to be tweaked. But it's going to be fun seeing people posting about this place for years to come.