Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. A new question and answer will run every Thursday. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.
My parents are visiting soon, so I’d like to take them out for a relatively nice dinner. I recently learned my mom loves Middle Eastern cuisine — an update to her eating since I left for college a decade ago. I’d like to take them to a Lebanese or Israeli restaurant. I love this food too, but I typically find it relatively cheaply — a favorite is Azuri Cafe or Dizengoff.
So what’s a nice sit-down restaurant in Manhattan (preferably south of Midtown) or Jersey City that fits the bill? I’m hoping for a place that does not have too stuffy a vibe, but is not so casual that the gyro spit is out. If I were in Philly, then I think Zahav would be the go-to. Hoping to spend less than $50 per person, but flexible.
Trying to Be a Good Son
Hey prodigal son,
You picked the right time to eat Middle Eastern food in New York City. The number of restaurants serving the contentious cuisine is on the rise, with Nur and Miss Ada perhaps the most prominent of the slew of newcomers. But for this choice, I’d like to highlight a chef who has long been at the forefront of NYC’s Israeli movement: Einat Admony.
Admony is perhaps most popular for her falafel shop and truck Taïm, but she also has two excellent sit-down restaurants downtown, Balaboosta and Bar Bolonat. Both are great, but I think Balaboosta shines at brunch, while Bar Bolonat in the West Village is the dinner move.
Take your parents here for a casual-but-elegant meal of dishes like the addictive and oversized Jerusalem bagel, a whole roasted chicken with crispy rice and pomegranate, and a not-to-be-missed Halvah creme brulee topped with Persian cotton candy.
While this restaurant is billed as Israeli, much like the cuisine, the food has influences from all around the region, with a Yemenite curry, Moroccan tagine, and Persian pasta all on the menu. As Eater critic Ryan Sutton said in his three-star 2014 review of the restaurant, “In a city so rightfully enamored with the delis and appetizing stores of its historic Jewish-immigrant population, Bar Bolonat offers something markedly different and equally vital, a refinement on the regional flavors of Israel and the larger Middle East.”
I hope you and your parents enjoy!