If the East Village didn’t already have enough restaurants which marry two seemingly disparate cultures, tonight it can add “Arabian French Bistro” Au Za’atar to the list. Located at 12th and A (in the space that previously housed Table 12), the restaurant’s menu certainly leans towards Arabian: there’s a range of traditional mezze (hummus, falafel, lamb tartare with scallion and mint) as well as grilled kebabs, various lamb dishes, and Tunisian cous cous served vegetarian or with lamb, merguez or chicken.
The dishes are based on the family recipes of Salwa Fallous, a Lebanese native who has been cooking for over 35 years. We wish our mom had served lamb tartare with scallion and mint instead of leftover pizza and Chef Boyardee!
So where does the French come in? Well, with its reclaimed wood interior (as designed by East Village local Frank Linkoff) and mood lighting, Au Za’atar certainly exudes the romance oft associated with the French. It offers a robust selection of wine — that’s a French thing to do. And the full menu (which will be served starting Monday) includes several types of cheese. They’re mediterranean cheeses, but we’re sure the French would still be into them.
Au Za’atar, 188 Avenue A, at East 12th St.; East Village