Monday, June 8, 2009

Haloumi dreams at Taboon

Ever since I moved to the far western reaches of Hell's Kitchen, I've wanted to eat at Taboon, a Mediterranean restaurant on 10th Avenue. But for some reason, I've never made it-- until now. AV and I were looking for a hearty meal before a night out, and fortunately Taboon had last-minute availability... at an outdoor table, no less. So we skipped the few blocks to Taboon for some delicious, delicious food.

We walked through the very Greek-looking, airy dining room, past the searingly hot wood-burning oven, through the door to their sidewalk tables. It was a tremendously beautiful night, and we enjoyed watching the scenic traffic on 10th Ave as we made our decisions. After placing our order (which didn't make our waiter very happy... read on), our first course-- the bread-- arrived.

The bread at Taboon is something quite special. It's a long loaf of puffy flat-ish bread, brushed with olive oil and spotted with rosemary, delivered freshly baked and piping hot. The fragrance is almost intoxicating, and the combination of the airy, warm interior and the crackly, substantial bottom crust (from being baked on the wood-burning oven) was spectacular. We had ordered a side of tzaziki, a yogurt-based dip, which we slathered all over the bread. And then ate plain off our knives. And forks. And fingers. Um, it was good.

Best in a long time

Soon our entrees arrived. And by entrees I mean appetizers-- we had both ordered apps (and no booze, in anticipation of the drinking to come later that night), which was the cause of our waiter's visible displeasure. AV had selected the Sea Scallops, which came with "Kaffir lime butter infusion, crisp parmesan over canellini bean puree." It was visually pretty and also, according to AV, very tasty. I tried a small dip of the puree and it was indeed enjoyable.

Pale and lovely

My own selection was the haloumi salad. Let it be said right here and now that I love haloumi cheese. There's a good haloumi salad at Pera, which I've had a few times. But this dish satisfied my craving and then some. Small dices of delicious seared haloumi were scattered atop a dish of tomato, cucumber, fennel, onion, green pepper, kalamata olives, and oregano. There was a light lemony dressing lubricating the whole mixture. I gobbled up all the veggies and the cheese, and I used some of the cucumber rounds to scoop up the remaining tzaziki. Rarely has a salad left me that satisfied.

Oh, haloumi, how you haunt my dreams

Without question, the food at Taboon was top-notch. The service wasn't quite so refined; after we declined dessert, our server tried repeatedly to push add-ons (coffee? tea??). Sorry dude, I know we weren't doing much for your bottom line, but give us a break. Regardless, I would most certainly go back... I'll be dreaming of that haloumi for a long, long time. Taboon earns four Offset Spatulas with ease.

773 Tenth Avenue, at 52nd Street

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