The anticipation of your steak frites is palpable. You poured over the menu, waffled a few times between the meat and the branzino and finally pulled the trigger. The waiter approaches, makes eye contact and swings his right arm out to deliver your date’s perfectly roasted chicken right under your nose before lowering the steak in front of you. Dammit. The FOMO is strong.
You are now trying to ignore the call of the chicken as you cut into your steak. It’s too late and definitely too soon to ask if you can maybe have a bite of the crispy thigh at the edge of his plate. Committing to a single dish at a restaurant can be tough, and while there’s a time and place for enjoying your food without anyone else chomping at the bit for it, we have relished the growth of meze, or middle eastern small plate restaurants popping up about town and the fairly communal, non-committal way of ordering. There’s always bread (really, really great bread), hummus, a strong emphasis on vegetables and herbs and SO MUCH olive oil.
Before we dive into our list of favorite meze spots about town, we thought you would enjoy a collection of recipes that Chef John created. The centerpiece of this meze table is the Kefte, or lamb meatballs, which are simple to assemble ahead of time and cook off just before your guests knock on the door (or uninvited folks curious about the wondrous aromas wafting about) and accompanying spiced Labneh for dipping. We’ll be rolling out the rest of his dishes (ok, here’s his Tabbouleh for one more) all week on Instagram.