Don’t let Miss Ada’s small digs fool you: This spot is kind of a big deal. The Mediterranean eatery has built some serious buzz since opening in Fort Greene, Brooklyn in 2017. Born and bred in Tel Aviv, chef-owner Tomer Blechman worked his way up at Bar Bolonat and Gramercy Tavern before striking out on his own with this crowd-favorite gem, which delivers dishes with, as he puts it,“bold flavors and very simple ingredients that are very seasonal.” In May, Blechman unveiled the aptly named Little Ada, a sister restaurant that’s housed in our very own Time Out Market New York. We caught up with the proud Brooklynite about his unlikely career shifts, unruly guests and celeb pop-ins.
Why did you move to New York?
In Israel, I was studying acupuncture. I came to the States when I was 28, and I was thinking of continuing to practice over here. But it seemed like the degree I had in Israel was not accepted in the U.S.
It sounds like you had to start over.
Yeah. So, I was thinking about what to do. Because acupuncture is about healing, the first thing that came to my mind was, Everything that you eat is basically the first thing that can heal you. So then I started cooking. As an aspiring chef, you don’t really eat healthily, you don’t sleep, and you drink at night. That was my life in the beginning. Finding a balance between being in a restaurant and feeling healthy—it’s very important to cooks. I think that’s kind of what Miss Ada is all about.
Did you fall for the city right away?
Yeah, I love New York, especially Brooklyn. You know, Brooklyn is very developed as far as thinking green. A lot of people here care about the world, they care about recycling, they care about farmers’ markets, and they care about a lot of things that actually affect this world.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn?
Red Hook. It feels like it’s not even part of the city—it’s like a little island. You can just be, you know? It doesn’t even remind me of New York. It’s beautiful.
Tell me what your first apartment here was like.
I lived on the Brooklyn waterfront and had a room that was almost like a closet. But I didn’t need much. As a cook, at the start, you don’t really have money to spend anyway.
What’s your craziest kitchen memory?
Oh, you know what happened? At a table in the restaurant, there were four girls that were speaking really, really loudly. And then, out of nowhere, this guy a table over started whistling and yelling at them. I had never experienced something like this in my life. Everyone was just looking at him, amazed that a person inside a restaurant could whistle so loudly.
Did the whistling diffuse the situation?
No! The girls were a little drunk, and one of them started really crying—like, sobbing. She couldn’t stop. We had to go comfort them, give them some food and more drinks, and then talk to the guy to make peace and make everybody happy. That was just a bad experience.
Let’s talk about some good experiences. Any famous clientele at the restaurant?
We had Jerry Seinfeld come in. He was very exciting. He was the best. It’s a small place, so you notice who’s there. We had Chuck Schumer a couple of times. Um, we had—I’m not really good at famous people. What is this crazy-famous show that just ended? Everybody was, like, obsessed with it?
Game of Thrones?
Game of Thrones, yeah.
The little lady, the blond lady.
Oh, Emilia Clarke.
Yeah. You know, I never really saw the show, but everyone in the restaurant was like, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.”
About Little Ada at Time Out Market New York:
We can’t get enough of Blechman’s Middle Eastern cooking at the always-happening Miss Ada. The cozy Fort Greene restaurant has a perpetual line out the door (maybe because, once people sit down, they want to order everything on the menu). Now, with Little Ada at the Time Out Market, you can indulge in the eats sans the wait. For complete Time Out Market menus, more info and editors’ picks, head here.