Someone once said, “Falling apart gives you a reason to build something new” and that’s exactly what New York’s upper west side darling restaurant did with its recent tragedy. After a catastrophic fire last November, the popular Israeli Mediterranean restaurant, Bustan, is back! The restaurant is still owned by Tuvia Feldman, but returns with a new culinary team and a bold menu. Executive Chef Eli Buliskeria and Pastry Chef Shir Rozenblat form a dynamic duo that creates something special all the way through the meals. Now don’t let the simplicity of the menu fool you. The dining experience starts and ends with dishes that are memorable and return worthy.
The duo cleverly marries the flavors and textures of Israel and the Mediterranean seamlessly. Each dish highlights the ingredients in a ways that’s simple and allows you to truly enjoy them. What’s even cooler is the format of the small plates, which encourages sharing and inspires you to select multiple dishes. Nearly everything is prepared in a taboon, a hand-built, wood-fired brick oven with a 360-degree rotating base. Most memorable from the small plate options are the housemade bread and hummus that include pure roasted sesame and tahini imported from Nazareth, Israel. Additionally, the Crudo and Eggplant Carpaccio are a must try. The Crudo features the fish of the day, such as yellowtail finished with olive oil, tomato seeds, radish slices, basil and preserved lemon. The Eggplant Carpaccio is fire roasted with long hot pepper for a subtle spice and smokey flavor and is finished with shallots, sesame, and fresh herbs. Also notable is the taboon roasted cauliflower served on top labneh and crushed tomato sauce and finished with sesame seeds.
If you actually still have room after the small plates, the Musakhan with roasted chicken, tahini-amba and herb salad served with taboon bread or the beautiful and flaky Branzino fillets with Labneh, za’atar, freekeh (Israeli risotto) and roasted fennel are worth a consideration. And let’s not forget about dessert. Find room for Chef Shir’s signature dish, Kisses! This lovely dessert is a baked vanilla meringue that hides a tangy raspberry sorbet filling topped with Chantilly cream and mixed berries.
Bustan also features a charming outdoor garden with wooden tables and chairs shaded by umbrellas perfect for al fresco dining during the spring and summer. And, if you’re just looking for a selection of classic cocktails with a Mediterranean twist, Bustan has that as well. From a refreshing Persian Lemonade- vodka, rose petal jam and lemon juice- to the sweet and spicy Smoke & Fire -Schoog Tequila, Mezcal, celery, pineapple and lime – Bustan makes a nice happy hour options. It’s offered Monday-Friday from 5pm-7pm and also features a selection of international wine and beers.
By Brandy Cochrane, Plant Candy