Sound the trumpets: after numerous delays, preview dinners, and early delivery on Caviar, you can finally come in to NOOSH firsthand for dinner this Wednesday March 6th (it’s their soft opening). Here’s the menu!
The project is from Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz, who made quite a name for themselves with their Istanbul Modern pop-up series on Feastly, and are partnering with John Litz (Lazy Bear) on the project. They have a fine dining background (working in East Coast Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin) and are steeped in technique (in addition to their pop-ups, she has worked at Saison and he has been at Mourad), but will be keeping things casual for this location. They are both so warm and hospitable, and very passionate about every detail of their soulful cooking.
Look for Eastern Mediterranean flavors, with Turkish dishes, in addition to inspiration from Israel, Greece, and Armenia, with the fluffiest housemade pita bread and flatbreads from their wood-fired oven. I’ve been fortunate to attend two preview events, and have been blown away with the sophisticated layering of flavors and techniques—their food really pops. While the menu reads simply, there’s so much more going on.
For example, the halloumi kebab ($8) features housemade halloumi, with honey, Persian rose petals, and a Szechuan peppercorn spice mix that has Aleppo chile, cardamom, black cardamom, and green and red Szechuan peppercorn. It will awaken your senses before you even take a bite. (I got a personal look at the spices in their pantry, which includes special items Sayat’s father brings from the Spice Market in Istanbul, like Urfa biber paste.) The exquisite red pepper muhammara ($6 each/3 dips for $15) features Urfa biber and almonds, and is remarkable alongside their smoked yogurt. Each spread comes with a half chubby pita (I am going to get extra-chubby eating them).
The pricing is so refreshingly wallet-friendly. I almost rubbed my eyes with disbelief when I saw the offer on their menu with a choice of a kebab, a spread, and a choice of pilaf, potato, or salad, all for $14. (Kebabs range from $7-$9 for two skewers.) Their hearty chubby pita sandwiches are $12-$14, from a classic sabich with falafel, egg, eggplant, and their creamy hummus, to a Greek po’boy with fried calamari, tzatziki, and pickles that will transport you to a seaside vacation in two bites.
Desserts are just $7, from dreamy lokoumades with orange honey to a sour cherry ice cream sandwich with Urfa chocolate sauce (and is fantastic with the Urfa Manhattan I mention below).
Bar manager Andrew Meltzer’s cocktail program (scroll to page two) is as detailed as their cooking, like a whiskey highball with Westland American single malt whiskey, cacao, and clove; and you can enjoy the exotic flavors of the Kookoo Gimlet (California aqua vitae, banana, parsley, mastiha), and finish the night with their Urfa Manhattan. I fell hard for the salty-savory Gin and Tonic, with St. George Terroir gin, La Gitana manzanilla sherry, and marinated olives. All the cocktails are $10-$13 and we should all be very happy about it.
The wine list features 14 wines available by the glass, carafe, or bottle, with selections from Georgia, Hungary, Turkey, France, and California. Beer, cider, shrubs, and other refreshments are also available, including some Armenian foraged teas.
They are doing many things differently here, like starting with delivery on Caviar first, and they are also doing a fine-casual format instead of table service. When you arrive, you will place your order with an ambassador at a kiosk by the entrance, and they will run your credit card. You will be seated by their hosts at a variety of different areas: maybe you want a couple drinks and bites in the lounge, or a table for two, or a seat at the bar, or maybe in a nook in the upstairs mezzanine. You’ll get your food and drink much more quickly since it’s fired as soon as your order is placed. And don’t feel pressured to place your entire order in the beginning—any of the ambassadors can help with additional items, from more of their juicy and brightly seasoned meatballs to another cocktail. You also don’t need to flag down your original server—anyone can help you, and can close out your tab.
The space has an airy and welcoming style, one that reminds me of Los Angeles, Istanbul, Greece, and a touch of Santa Fe. From the white tiled bar and white painted brick walls, to the stucco elements, many plants and olive trees outside, white oak dining tables, large clear glass pendant lamps, and pops of Mediterranean blue throughout, it all combines to create a relaxed and happy feeling. The side room is Kitchen Table, Noosh’s private dining space, with a mural by Alexander Tadlock. The design was in collaboration with Eden Wright Design and Mokume Design.
The soft opening begins this Wednesday March 4th, with dinner service from 5pm-11pm. You can also continue to order delivery on Caviar for lunch and dinner. Stand by for extended hours soon, plus ticketed dinners, private dining at Kitchen Table, and more. 2001 Fillmore St. at Pine.
The beautiful bar at Noosh. Photo: Audrey Ma.