Jan 042016

By Denise Mattia

lamb terracotta

The maître d’ at Bustan on Amsterdam bet 83 and 84 on Saturday night rushed my associate and me to our seats, informing us there was a party coming in at 8:30. Still, the time was 6:30, the room is large although narrow and there were seats available.

We weren’t served the Mediterranean classic bread and oil to begin.  I ordered a glass of Sancerre ($14). The restaurant was out of the less expensive wines.  While my associate and I discussed the menu, a group of three was shown to the bank of seats next to us, where upon one woman knocked my wine into my associate’s lap and jacket.   The fault wasn’t hers; the maître d’ should have seated the group from the other side of the bank.

Several napkins later, we ordered dinner. Middle Eastern food has arrived at the UWS.   I had the roasted free-range chicken ($25) with saffron, cinnamon & almond couscous and taboon roasted butternut squash. The broccoli rabe was tough, but the chicken and foie gras sausage au jus, which had a hint of je-ne-sais-quoi spice and were delicious.

My associate had the Lamb Terracotta ($29), a spiced ground lamb kebab, charred onion, taboon roasted tomato, sumac roasted peppers, oregano, tahini & pine nuts baked in a flaky bread dome. With so many ingredients the dish was flavorful, while the flat bread was dry and tasteless.  Taboon (a brick oven wood-fired grill) is an “in” thing in New York and Israeli-born chef, Efi Nahon uses it on many ingredients on the menu. Dishes include taboon charred octopus (I’d enjoyed that unadorned at Olio e Piu on Greenwich Street and its sister café, Dominique Bistro on Christopher) and taboon whole baked branzino ($33).

The shredded halvah over sorbet and nuts ($10) is the best dessert in the house.

The party of eight arrived and were seated.  A couple arrived without reservations and didn’t have to wait for a table.  We wondered what the rush was all about.

Denise Mattia

About Denise Mattia

A writer and photographer, Denise Mattia’s works are published nationally and internationally and include all aspects of leisure travel: art , culture, resorts, spas, food and wine and sports’ activities. She's the founder of the soon to be launched Yum-Yum-Traveler, a site devoted to reviewing restaurants in addition to her travel articles from around the world. She lives and works in Manhattan, where she was born.

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