November 16, 2019, 5:43

Miss Ada and Golda’s Modern Spins on Middle Eastern Cooking

Miss Ada and Golda’s Modern Spins on Middle Eastern Cooking

The tantalizing combination of brown butter and fried sage may have its origin in Italy, but it turns out to work just as well with pita as it does with pasta. At Miss Ada, a restaurant in Fort Greene, it gets spooned, nutty and fragrant, over a sweet but earthy carrot hummus, and again over a bowl of fluffy whipped ricotta. The pita—warm, puffy, chewy—goes perfectly, too, with a rich, stretchy stracciatella cheese, its milky surface marbled with little golden ponds of olive oil and topped with, depending on the season, heirloom tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and red onion, or snap peas, blood orange, ground-cherries, and kumquat.

The Veridian, one of several Mexican-inspired cocktails at Miss Ada, is made with tequila, serrano chile, cucumber, lime, and cilantro.

Photograph by Mary Kang for The New Yorker

“Mediterranean with a twist” is how the restaurant describes its food. The chef and owner, Tomer Blechman (late of Bar Bolonat, Gramercy Tavern, and Maialino), is originally from Israel, and the menu is rooted in the traditions and flavor profiles of the Middle East. Sometimes the twist is Italian, sometimes it’s Mexican—the sauce beneath the short-rib skewer is described as “Israeli mole” (made with Middle Eastern spices, chocolate, and harissa), and the Dead Sea #2 cocktail (guava, mezcal, mint, lime) is basically an Israeli margarita—and sometimes the za’atar-crusted salmon is accompanied by Japanese eggplant.

The salmon at Miss Ada, served over labneh, is accompanied by charred onions and Japanese eggplant. A lamb kofta kebab is skewered on a cinnamon stick.

Photograph by Mary Kang for The New Yorker

Across the board, what comes out of the kitchen tends to be lovely. At other restaurants, skewers can feel like ripoffs; here they are reasonably substantial and easy to share. The short ribs are fork-tender and, strewn with sliced pickles, reminiscent of pastrami; a complexly seasoned ground-lamb kofta kebab is impaled, cleverly, on a long, tapered cinnamon stick. There’s a satisfying snap to the salmon’s za’atar crust as it gives way to silky pink flakes. The fillet sits on a smear of labneh, an ingredient that it would seem the kitchen were overusing if each dish it popped up in were not so inarguably suited to it. My favorite is the labneh mousse, as airy as Italian meringue and crisscrossed with seasonal-fruit granita.

Golda, an all-day café in Brooklyn, offers a number of almost parodically millennial touchstones.

Photograph by Mary Kang for The New Yorker

To say that Miss Ada has been overlooked wouldn’t be quite accurate. It’s difficult to get a prime-time dinner reservation there. But the reason I first tried it only recently, more than two years after it opened, is that its success has been relatively quiet. I went not because of the usual P.R. blitz or the big-name-chef-driven buzz but because I kept hearing about it through trusted word of mouth. After a couple of meals, I felt ready to join the whisper network. At a time when young chefs are getting attention for putting modern and inventive spins on Middle Eastern cooking—particularly in Los Angeles, home to lauded restaurants like Kismet and Mh Zh—Miss Ada deserves to be part of the conversation.

And it’s not alone in Brooklyn. If Miss Ada, with its house-made blueberry kombucha, is speaking in the vernacular of the moment, then Golda, a Middle Eastern-ish all-day café in Bed-Stuy, is texting in it. Opened in 2017 by the late restaurateur Danny Nusbaum, whose family started Pick A Bagel, it offers a number of almost parodically millennial touchstones, including açai yogurt and chia-seed oatmeal with date-oat milk.

At Golda, from top to bottom: deep-fried cauliflower with beet tahini, chermoula, and dried apricot; octopus with hummus and fava beans; babka French toast with cashew butter and cardamom apples.

Photograph by Mary Kang for The New Yorker

But, surprise, the matcha spritzer, made with fresh-squeezed orange juice and seltzer, accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making matcha taste good. And just because the cauliflower looks fantastic on Instagram—its cruciferous treetop fried until it appears to have been spray-painted gold, placed upon a pool of tahini dyed electric fuchsia with beet juice, and finished with forest-green chermoula and jewels of dried apricot—doesn’t mean it’s not absolutely delicious.

Golda began serving dinner recently, and the menu is a bit disappointing, perhaps because Nusbaum isn’t there to oversee it. Still, the all-day offerings, including a fried-chicken sandwich pulsing with the heavenly perfume of Aleppo pepper, are enough to recommend it. And there’s always Miss Ada at night. (Miss Ada, dishes $8-$28. Golda, dishes $5-$21.) ♦

Sourse: newyorker.com

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *