After a matinee at BAM yesterday, we strolled over to Miss Ada, 184 Dekalb Avenue, for an early dinner. They serve "Mediterranean food with a twist" (i.e., tweaked versions of mostly Israeli food that other countries in the region serve, too, plus some not-particularly-Mediterranean dishes with maybe-Mediterranean garnishes). The restaurant, and the food, look somewhat different from a few of the photos on the website. Don't be fooled by what looks like a communal table; that's just a plank across a bunch of very-close-together two-tops. And the hummus, which looks kind of coarse in the photos, was perfectly smooth, really velvety; maybe they now peel the chickpeas, and run it longer in the food processor. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
They open for dinner at 5:30. We got there about 5:15, and there were already a couple of people standing outside waiting. We took a walk and came back about 5:27, by our watches. More people waiting. After a minute or so (still not 5:30), a couple of groups of Israelis decided they should just head in. (They sounded like all the Israelis we know, and had the same pushiness.) We followed (why not?) and because of the potential iffiness of the weather, decided to sit inside. That might have been a mistake given how loud the place became when it filled up, which was almost immediately. But at least we were only two at a two-top; they seem to believe that it's okay to use the corner tables at each end of the banquette for parties of three. The one next to use was even more cramped, since they had a baby in (and out of) a rather large stroller that they had to park in place of one of the chairs. (But the baby was adorable, and mostly silent.) I overheard one other walk-in party being told they'd have to be out by 7:30, but we were not. As a side note: there were quite a few families with toddlers or small children; I guess a place that serves lots of dippy foods is great for them.
We had four small plates/apps (mostly what I think of as greatest hits of this kind of food), split one main, then had two desserts. Paul had a glass of an orange Xarel-lo; this version was new to us. It was indeed "funky" as warned, and good. I had the Once Upon a Thyme cocktail (currently the second photo of the set). I liked it a lot--gin, lime, bitters, thyme, what's not to like? We ended with decaf made in a French press. It wasn't so much that I wanted decaf; I just wanted a real cup of coffee, as I loathe americanos.
They list a manzanilla sherry with after-dinner drinks. Harrumph.
Babaganush: a very smooth puree, served with a couple of dehydrated eggplant chips. Lots and lots of za'atar. The promised "ginger aioli" was not visible, but maybe it added flavor. In any case, quite delicious.
Hummus with Israeli salad (tomato, cucumber, red onion, parsley, mint): as mentioned above, the smoothest version I've ever had. There were no whole chickpeas, as shown in the photos and promised by the name on the menu ("masabaha"). I make mine with a lot more lemon and garlic (not sure there even was garlic in this one), but this was still excellent. The mint in the salad was a great addition. Quite a large portion.
Falafel: Very crunchy and dark brown on the outside, very green on the inside, with a green puree sauce of indeterminate herbs. Served on small butter lettuce leaves with tiny pitted olives and slices of radish. On the whole, it lacked flavor for me; and it cannot replace the falafel from Alfanoose in my heart. I did like the presentation, though.
Octopus: I feel like I have to order octopus wherever I see it; not something I will cook again at home. This was a good version, although I'm not sure it warranted a $19 price tag. The octopus itself, three smallish lengths of tentacle, were cooked nicely (crunchy from grilling on the outside, tender but still with some bite on the inside); thin slivers of preserved lemon, cuts of olive, eggplant puree sans za'atar. This suffered from uneven salting--the only time I could detect salt on/in the food. Still, we enjoyed it.
A plate of warm pita wedges drizzled with a squirt of (rather bitter) olive oil is the bread service. Fluffy, good for wiping up all the purees and sauces. I thought the oil was unnecessary. They offered to bring us more pita, but what came was enough for judicious wiping.
Za'atar-crusted salmon: When we ordered this, we told the server we wanted to split it. I expected the kitchen would do that, pre-serving. Um, no. So it went back to be split. Anyway, excellent. The skin, coated with za'atar, was crisp, the salmon very rare. (We were not asked how we wanted it cooked, but the way it came out was perfect for us. I'm not sure if other tables are all so happy.) Tart labne underneath, slivers of charred shallot, a couple of rectangles of Japanese eggplant. All delicious.
Kanafeh: Dessert of pancakes make from kadaif (shredded pastry) sandwiched with goat cheese, drizzled with a sweet syrup. Also had a scoop of a frozen dessert--almost ice creamish, maybe contained more goat cheese, maybe lemon balm? Paul loved it. I really like my taste.
Sufganiyot: Jelly doughnuts, although one seemed to be unfilled but did have a bit of the strawberry coulis under it. Perfectly fried, not the least bit greasy. Also not sweet except for a roll in fine sugar when done. I really enjoyed the sprinkle of sumac on the whipped cream, not sure I could taste it in the sugar coating.
$123 for the two of us before tax and tip. Service was good. They could use better heat ventilation in the basement, where the restroom is located. (What is the point of an ADA-compliant restroom down a steep flight of stairs?) Liked the music played (real jazz), but since the noise gets pretty intense, it only can be heard while the place fills. And fill it did, from not long after opening. Of course it was still packed when we left about 7:30. If we were to go back for a dinner later than right at opening, I would definitely make a reservation.
BTW: just noticed that this place is one of nuxvomica's clients, fwiw.