Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

SEP 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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SEPTEMBER 2017 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • 131 spot as a staple item, albeit with a unique twist; the team slices the cheese, dusts it with ground hibiscus powder and rose flowers and serves it on a sesame seed cracker. A crudité plate is always available. "This is a great way to showcase our produce on one plate," says Smith. "We serve baby carrots, fennel, turnips, radishes, snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower with whipped feta and herbed tahini for dipping." Among the minimal meat dishes is lamb tartare served with yogurt topped with chips made from vegetables, such as parsnips and potatoes. The salad of romaine lettuce, cucum- ber slices and onions, also topped with yogurt, definitely has a Middle Eastern influence, as well. The large, 95-seat restaurant totals 5,000 square feet. The bright front-of-the-house decor lets in plenty of natural light and showcases marble accents. A white and pastel color palate contrasts the typical dark colors in many Portland restaurants. Tusk's kitchen encompasses about 20 percent of the square footage. A Japanese-style grill cooks vegetables and skewers, while a French flattop, plancha and salamander sup- port the hot food station. A dedicated oven bakes pita bread, Lebanese pizza and halloumi, an unripened brine cheese originating from Cypress. "The big trend we're seeing is the restaurant community turning away from meat-centric menus to vegetables," says Smith. For his next venture, Smith is exploring opening a fast- casual Middle Eastern restaurant. It promises to be anything but ordinary. Connecting to the Community When Zait & Za'atar opened its doors in Minneapolis last March, the concept was positioned to connect to the com- munity with cooking classes and other activities. The 24-seat quick-service restaurant includes tables and a counter inside and an outside eating area. Artifacts from owner Arafat Elbakri's Palestinian homeland decorate the space. "The food we're doing is not gourmet, but more like Middle Eastern fast food," says Elbakri. "But everything is fresh and prepared daily." The Palestinian finger food, or street food, as Elbakri calls it, includes the popular Chicken Shawerma and unique dishes like Msakhen, which is traditionally served on a big platter with onion, olive oil, chicken and sumac but is made into a sandwich here. Koushari preparation at Zait & Za'atar follows the Egyptian, as opposed to the Palestinian, method, which means cooking all ingredients such as rice, macaroni, chick peas, lentils and onions separately instead of together. "I hardly see anyone serving koushari in Minnesota," says Elbakri. In the approximately 8-foot-by-40- foot kitchen, production centers around the griddle, which only has two burners. A cooler contains all sandwich ingredients and garnishes. "It would be great to have a traditional wood oven, but the cooking area is very small," says Elbakri. He is consider- ing offering more fusion foods, or a cross between American and Middle Eastern fare, such as shawerma fries. "We're trying to be as authentic as possible," says Elbakri. "It's good to serve what people are familiar with, but also to change it up." FE&S Tusk dishes center around seasonal produce with a little meat thrown in. Zait & Za'atar's menu offerings are akin to Middle Eastern fast food or finger food.

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