A quaint new eatery has opened in downtown Delray Beach where owners Nicolas and Susanna Kurban aim to take guests on a culinary journey through the Middle East by way of Lebanon.
Stepping into Amar, located at 522 East Atlantic Ave., guests are immediately welcomed by the aroma of rich, fragrant spices and herbs. Part of it is thanks to the restaurant's wood-burning oven, the centerpiece of the intimate bistro, where handmade pita bread is baked fresh throughout service, allowing guests to soak up the flavors of the Levantine coast.
"Food is an essential part of all family and social gatherings in the Middle East, where people grow up with bold flavors, colorful vegetables, and vibrant proteins fresh from the marketplace," says Nicolas. "That's an expereience we aim to replicate with Amar."
Prepared simply and with passion, these same ingredients take center stage at Amar in a melting pot of fragrant shared plates that pay homage to the Kurban’s Lebanese heritage.
Amar’s menu offers classic cold and hot mezze like hummus, labneh, fattoush, kibbeh, falafel, spinach fatayer, a variety of grilled meats, kebabs, fresh fish, and signature dishes like stuffed eggplant.
“Seasonal vegetables and healthy grains are central to the Mediterranean lifestyle, so more than 30 percent of our menu is vegan, including several of our homemade desserts," says Nicolas.
Nicolas' palpable sense of passion for his work comes from his father, who owned one of Lebanon's most famous and long-standing restaurants. Today, the seasoned hospitality veteran brings with him a wealth of experience, having worked alongside celebrated chefs like Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck.
Since dishes are traditionally meant to be shared, the restaurant offers a unique way to sample all the Kurban's have to offer. The ‘Taste of Amar' tasting menu will leave the ordering to the chef, a leisurely experience that showcases the restaurant's signature dishes, served in a generous portions with a multi-course flow of flavors and textures.
Complimenting the cuisine, the curated wine list will offer bottles from boutique wineries in Lebanon, Greece, Southern France, Italy, and Northern California.
With 48 seats inside and 12 outdoors on the sidewalk, Amar’s rustic but refined design was inspired by the quaint neighborhood bistros Nicolas and Susanna remember from their extensive travels throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Comfortable banquettes, whitewashed exposed brick walls, handwoven planters, and soft lighting create a welcoming environment.
"Our goal is to share a bit of the food I grew up eating in my father’s restaurant with South Florida," says Nicolas. "At Amar, we hope to offer a unique and healthy dining experience to this beautiful beachside community that we love."
Amar. 522 East Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-865-5653; amardelray.com.