The newest outpost from the hospitality group that brought you Rosie’s, Cookshop, and Vic’s comes an Eastern Mediterranean concept in the West Village. Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja helms the kitchen by showcasing seasonal dishes accented by the flavors of Morocco, Tunisia, and Southern Italy in a thoughtful and innovative way.
The open, airy space that formerly held brunch staple Hundred Acres (by the same restaurant group) vibrates with an energy that reflects the region from which the cuisine hails. While a lot of the dishes are excellent, some of the twists on classics can sometimes fall flat.
Here’s what we ate:
A simple dish, this creamy, rich bowl of yogurt drizzled with harissa oil made for an excellent way to start the meal. The pita that accompanied it was large and fluffy, and was so hot it was difficult to hold at first. All of the dips looked appealing, and I would happily come back to Shuka and make a meal out of only dips.
The preparation of za’atar pesto, tarragon, and dill on this dish really appealed to me (I’ve recently been having a love affair with za’atar) but it didn’t quite hit the mark. I didn’t get any of the tarragon, and though dill should have brightened the weight of the za’atar, it didn’t. I was disappointed I didn’t get the other carrot option that came with turmeric and ginger, because why have one carrot mezze option when you can have two.
If it was public acceptable to lick a bowl in public, i would have done it. The sauce on the bottom of this plate was actual crack. Lightly fried in a tempura-style batter, the bulbous heads of cauliflower florets were delicious all on their own, but when you paired it with the pickled mustard aioli, it knocked it out of the park. 10/10 would order again.
Tender and succulent, these hunks of lamb meat emerge from the kitchen brandished on a piping hot metal skewer. It’s served over a delightful bed of kale salad crowned with slivers of crisp watermelon radishes and peppered with crispy sunflower seeds.
Overall I wish I came here with more people so that we could have ordered more things for the table, but it was a great experience, and definitely a good call for a girls dinner or a chill place to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while.