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Bavel, the new Middle Eastern restaurant from the Bestia team, opens Friday

Grilled octopus with herbed yogurt
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen Grilled octopus with herbed yogurt

It’s been nearly six years since Bestia opened in the Arts District, and pre-10pm seatings at the rustic-Italian mainstay are still booked out weeks in advance. Such is the culinary genius of chef-owners and husband-and-wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, who, amidst the city’s quickdraw rotation of openings and closings, somehow manage to run a restaurant that’s maintained its hype years longer than many can even keep their businesses afloat.

And so it is with great anticipation that Bavel opens tomorrow. The duo’s Middle Eastern restaurant draws upon their collective lineages; flavors of Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey are ready to hit tables in their new Arts District restaurant which is, already, booking up those pre-10pm reservations for weeks at a time. 

The pair hopes you’ll think of it as a communal meal, with your table picking and choosing from a menu of spreads, flatbreads, appetizers, entrées and desserts and sharing in the flavors of this feast not tied to any specific country. Bavel, pronounced buh-vel, stems from the Old Testament story of Babel, when the Middle East was one; as such you’ll find shared flavors, influences and continent-spanning dishes. Of course, this is Menashe we’re talking about—the chef who wisely throws Thai basil and shiitake mushrooms into Italian fare—so don’t expect everything to be strictly traditional; here, foie gras gets blended into halva, and crème fraîche into tahini. 

Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Dylan + Jeni

Gergis, heading up the desserts, is flexing her pastry-chef muscles with a brief but intriguing rundown of delectables: strawberry sumac and sweet-cheese pastries with pistachio ice cream, labneh cream and cured sumac; rolled paglava (baklava) with walnut and apricot, farm cheese, honey and dried borage flower; and a cardamom apple prune cake with date toffee sauce and cream, to name a few. 

Bavel will launch Friday serving dinner only, but you can expect lunch service in the not-too-distant future.

Without further ado, here’s a quick peek at Bavel’s menu. Oh, the dishes you’ll eat:

 

Flatbreads, from left to right: the sujuk, made of beef salami, grated tomato, red onion, yogurt, marjoram, olive oil and sea salt; the potato, with curried mashed potatoes, sweet herb sauce, pea tendrils, mint and Aleppo oil; and the lamb, made with spicy fermented sausage, grated tomato, red onion, parsley, pine nuts, nigella seed, mint and sumac
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The confit turmeric chicken legs, top left, served with Yemenite pancake, fennel salad, black sesame and marjoram, and the grilled dorade, below, with herb stuffing, red chermoula, preserved orange and smoked anchovy
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The wagyu beef cheek tagine, made with braised cheeks, chilies, preserved lemon, turnips and green garbanzo, served with couscous
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The malawach, an ancient grain crispy layered bread, served here with grated tomato, dill crème fraîche, soft boiled egg and strawberry zhoug
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

Roasted cauliflower in Hawaij chili sauce with a crème fraîche Serrano pepper dip, pistachios and dried flowers
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The hummus masabacha, a thick garbanzo bean purée served with green and red chili paste and pita
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

Grilled oyster mushrooms with stinging nettle cardamom purée, turmeric and sumac
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The chef’s selection of Middle Eastern cured meats, here served with olives
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The appetizer of foie gras halva, a creamy pâté dotted with date paste and black sesame seeds, served with buckwheat loaf
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

Fattoush of oak leaf lettuce, cucumber, radish, amba vinaigrette, fried pita, pickled rose onions and cured sumac
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

Rose clove chocolate doughnuts made with Bar au Chocolat ganache and served with sherry diplomat cream
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

 

The licorice ice cream bon bon, made with sour licorice caramel, muscovado cake, caramelized white chocolate and Maldon salt
Photograph: Courtesy Bavel/Nicole Franzen

 

Bavel is located at 500 Mateo Street and opens on Friday with hours of 5pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 5 to 11pm on Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday.

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