Where else however in New York City would you discover a chef from Gravesend, Brooklyn, who’s the daughter of an Italian mom and an Indonesian father, at a restaurant named after an Israeli market, making an unimaginable twist on a well-liked Turkish snack? You’ll discover this—the chef Ayesha Nurdjaja and her gozleme, a stuffed, pan-fried bread—and far more at Shukette, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chelsea. It’s the most recent from Vicki Freeman, whose Bowery Group additionally contains the High Line-adjacent farm-to-table stalwart Cookshop, the East Village Mexican canteen Rosie’s, and the SoHo Mediterranean spot Shuka, the place Nurdjaja can also be the chef. These reliable eating places have all developed, in the previous fifteen years, together with Freeman’s hard-won formulation: nurture and observe the passions of gifted cooks, spotlight seasonal components, steadiness the sensible with the decadent.
Gozleme, based mostly on a well-liked Turkish snack, is a pan-fried bread full of provolone and grated potato.
The formulation feels further impressed at Shukette, which Nurdjaja, on the “Today” present, described as Shuka’s “mischievous sister,” maybe as a result of it ventures farther from the protection of the acquainted; at Shuka, beet hummus is as loopy because it will get. Shukette’s menu emphatically suggests that you simply’d higher be able to occasion. Its headliner, “When You Dip, I Dip, We Rip,” contains an exceptionally wealthy labneh, darkened by harissa, brightened by lime and pomegranate seeds. There’s additionally a winsome salt-cod dip, like a pleasant whitefish salad spiked with serrano chili and fried-garlic chips. They pair effectively with any and all objects in the “Rip This” part, an abridged tutorial on Middle Eastern breads: frena, a thick, pillowy spherical of Moroccan origin, calmly oiled and pan-fried for patches of crunchiness, topped with complete roasted garlic cloves; lafa, an Iraqi flatbread, grilled and slathered with oil-laden za’atar; the pleasant gozleme, a beneficiant rectangular sheath stuffed with provolone and grated potato. Hot, tangy, crunchy, showered with flaky salt and incongruously gentle, it’s the grilled cheese you didn’t know to ask for.
An intensive record of salads and small plates contains (left to proper) labneh, roasted delicata squash with charred pink onion, hummus, and (high) beets with cardamom and yogurt.
An intensive record of salads and small plates (“The Shuk”) contains well-fried squid that tries on an unctuous sauce of Castelvetrano olives and preserved lemon; kibbeh seems as mini ground-lamb corn canine, which have been a bit dry even when dipped in spicy tahini. But the charcoal-grill part (“Al Ha’esh”) gives dependable pleasures, excessive amongst them Fish in a Cage, a complete porgy painted with harissa, served on its ungainly grilling basket with herb and chili sauces. The juiciest and most flavorful dish is the Joojeh Chicken, a half chook marinated till tender in turmeric, yogurt, and onion, then char-grilled, a traditional Persian preparation. Add some shawarma-spiced fries and swipe all of it by way of a aspect of toum, a pungent Lebanese garlic unfold.
The menu’s “When You Dip, I Dip, We Rip” part contains the exceptionally wealthy labneh, darkened by harissa, brightened by lime and pomegranate seeds.
Shukette opened in July, when its intensive outdoor-dining setup made excellent sense, but it surely stays to be seen how the restaurant-going hordes will reply to a different winter outdoors. One current night time, as I used to be guided away from the restaurant down Twenty-fourth Street, Freeman, appearing as hostess, asserted that I’d be seated in the “V.I.P. suite,” i.e., the desk farthest from the restaurant. With no heater in sight—now that town has banned propane, she had electrical ones on order—the metallic chairs regarded like an awfully chilly place to attend for a buddy. A blanket was shortly proffered and a citrus gazoz—a spritz with St. Agrestis Paradiso apéritif, lemon shrub, and grapefruit bitters—was promptly delivered.
The “Mic Drop” part lists one dessert: tahini oat-milk smooth serve, topped with hazelnuts, halva floss, and candied butternut squash.
It was cozy sufficient, however the ambiance was a far cry from the cheerful festivities inside, the place you possibly can sit in blond-wood cubicles or, higher nonetheless, at the “chef’s counter,” a bar almost so long as the institution—a primary part of the restaurant’s idea lengthy earlier than the pandemic modified anybody’s notion of such shut quarters. At the counter, friends are handled to a front-row view of cooks performing one thing of a ballet, setting purple potatoes on inexperienced chermoula, freestyle-dressing roasted cauliflower with date slivers and mint, frying bread, and grilling fish, kebabs, and lemons. One of every, please. (Dishes $5-$31.) ♦