If you’re looking for an exquisite meal and you love Israeli food, you simply must visit BUSTAN. I was invited for a tasting recently, which I went in for with zero expectations, and I came out with a new favorite NYC restaurant. For one thing, I adore Israeli food. For another, I’m a vegetarian, and I love Israeli ingredients – the fresh vegetables, spices, and flavors. BUSTAN nailed all of my passions and desires. I am not necessarily a foodie, but after a visit there, I may be converted to one.
I knew I was in for a treat from the moment I stepped in, as the restaurant possesses a middle-eastern, lovely kind of exotic ambiance. It’s hard to believe the restaurant suffered a fire last year, as BUSTAN just feels like it’s been there forever. Co-Executive Chef Eli Buliskeria and Pastry Chef Shir Rozenblat have prepared an absolutely delicious menu full of Israeli and Mediterranean dishes.
I base most of my Israeli cuisine experiences on the hummus – if they get that right, they can get most anything right, and I’m happy to report that the texture and taste were perfect right off the bat. It’s no surprise that Chef Eli served under Chef Yonatan Roshfeld who is a judge on the popular Israel iteration of TV’s Master Chef. He totally deserves that spot. Even the hummus ranks – it’s made with pure roasted sesame and tahini imported from Nazareth in Israel.
We started with a variety of small plates, which we shared, resembling a Friday night Shabbat in my house, where we indulged in the best dishes from the middle east. Everything is made in a custom hand-built wood-fired brick taboon, a Middle Eastern oven that has a 360-degree rotating base, which is something you won’t find in many NYC restaurants. We munched on the above-mentioned hummus, spicy feta yogurt, olive oil and sumac, Crudo, Eggplant Carpaccio that has been fire roasted with long hot pepper for a subtle spice, shallots, sesame, and fresh herbs and is to die for, and the most delicious salad made of market tomatoes I have ever had with shallots, feta cheese, za’atar, Moroccan olives, and fresh herbs.
After the appetizers, we were so content that we did not think dinner could get any better, but wait – it actually did. We had the Fish Chraimeh, a fish stew, Chicken “Musakhan,” roasted chicken with tahini-amba and herb salad served with taboon bread, and my other favorite dish, Roasted Cauliflower with labneh, crushed tomatoes, and sesame.
Dessert was inspirational. Pastry Chef Shir Rozenblat clearly knows a thing or two about applying her passion to sweets. My favorite was Kisses, her signature dessert, comprised of baked vanilla meringue that hides a tangy raspberry sorbet filling as well as Chantilly cream and mixed berries. My friend preferred the Nemesis, baked chocolate mousse, with salted caramel, caramel pearls, and ice cream – exquisitely presented and even more exquisite to eat.
And then there was the wine. I had a few glasses from Portugal which complimented my meal perfectly. They also have more classic middle-eastern cocktails including the Jaffa Mule (vodka or arak, ginger liquor, citrus, and Oleo Saccharum); a light and refreshing Persian Lemonade (vodka, rose petal jam and lemon juice); and the spicy and sweet Smoke & Fire (Schoog Tequila, Mezcal, celery, pineapple and lime)
And guess what? Back to my love for Shabbat dinners – they offer catering on Friday nights, featuring items from their menu for Shabbat. You know I am all about that. Shabbat Dinner: BUSTAN will be offering catering for Shabbat dinners featuring items from their menu, so guests can celebrate with their families at home.
BUSTAN is located at 487 Amsterdam Avenue, near W. 84th Streets, Tel:
212-595-5050. Hours of operation: Sun.-Thurs. 5pm-10pm, Fri. & Sat. 5pm-11pm.
Disclosure: My meal was complimentary to facilitate this review and others, but as usual, all opinions are my own.