Manhattan, NY

Israeli-Mediterranean Restaurant Miriam Makes its Way to the Upper West Side

Carlos L.

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Lamb ShawarmaCourtesy of Miriam

Miriam is a popular Park Slope restaurant that recently opened an additional location on the Upper West Side. Executive Chef/Owner Rafael “Rafi” Hasid is thrilled to bring his Israeli-Mediterranean dishes over to Manhattan. Located on 300 Amsterdam Avenue, Miriam’s Upper West Side location echoes design elements from their Park Slope restaurant, including Mediterranean arches and original tiles. The open dining room features a large brass and terrazzo bar and lush aquamarine banquettes. Custom lighting designs compliment the matching rose gold bar mirrors to softly illuminate the space. Walnut tables and chairs fill the dining area, and paintings scattered throughout complete the setting to create a warm interpretation of an all-day Mediterranean bistro.

The dinner menu highlights the range of influences in the nation’s cuisine beginning with Mezes (or appetizers) such as goat cheese crostini with pistachio-crusted goat cheese, roasted peppers and truffle oil; kadaif-wrapped shrimp served with harissa aioli; and pomegranate meatballs, which are beef meatballs served with labneh, pomegranate sauce, and topped with pistachios. Main courses include braised short ribs (tamarind braised beef short rib with sweet potato latke over labneh and string beans); grilled branzino served with celery root puree and grapefruit fennel salad; and lamb shawarma with herbed rice, roasted tomatoes and a tahini yogurt amba sauce baked under dough in a terra cotta bowl. Another main includes a seasonal vegetable stew, made with fresh herbs, winter vegetables, dried cherries and cured lemon. On top of all of that, Miriam also has some dessert and brunch options that are well worth checking out.

Miriam UWS’ cocktail menu was designed by Anne Castaldi, the visionary behind the cocktail menu at Chef Rafi’s Cajun-Creole restaurant, 1803. The cocktail menu features herbs and flavors from the Middle East, including prickly pear, guava, za’atar, rosemary, artichokes, figs, and dates, among others. Selections from the cocktail menu include a Sake Bloody Miriam, a twist on the Bloody Mary made with tomato juice, shug (a spicy Mediterranean sauce), fresh horseradish, lemon juice, salt, pepper, za’atar marinated pickled artichoke, Worcestershire sauce, and sake, and an Aperol Spritz, made with Aperol, prosecco, and grapefruit juice.

My guest and I started our night off with some drinks. She enjoyed a Rose (sweet and subtle rose with tequila, fresh lemon and a touch of Montenegro) while I ordered the Passion Fruit (ripe and sweet with bourbon, almond and frothed egg whites). My drink had a sweet, fresh passion fruit flavor (which sat on top of the drink I believe) with the bourbon and almond flavors peeking out towards the back end. The Rose was also quite the tasty drink, with the lemon and tequila flavors being the standouts of the drink. For appetizers (or meze), we ordered the Kadaif-Wrapped Shrimp and the Pomegranate Meatballs. The shrimp was flavorful and absolutely divine, with the kadaif adding a light, textural crunch. Pairing the sweet shrimp with the harissa aioli (the absolutely perfect condiment for dipping) made for a fantastic first bite to our meal. The pomegranate meatballs were a pleasant surprise and a nice blend of sweet and savory, something that is almost a theme of sorts throughout the menu.

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Kadif Wrapped ShrimpCourtesy of Miriam

We took time before our main courses to order some of Miriam’s house flatbread. It was fluffy, fresh and topped with an amazing za’atar seasoning that added an element of warmth and smokiness. For the mains, I had the Braised Short Ribs (tamarind braised beef short rib with sweet potato latke over labneh and string beans). This is one of Mariam’s most popular dishes and, from what I tasted, it’s for good reason. The short ribs were extremely tender and the tamarind blended really well with the juicy meat. The sweet potato latke and string beans were great sides, with all the flavors blending nicely. It was a great spin on what could be a typical “meat and potatoes” dish. My guest got the Lamb Shawarma (baked dough on terracotta bowl with lamb, yellow rice and chickpea, roasted green chili and seared tomatoes, served with tahini yogurt amba sauce and a side of sumac red onion) which arrived at the table looking like a big pot pie. It’s a show-stopper of a dish, as the waiter cuts the dough in half to let the meal’s flavorful aroma waft in the air before guests dive in. And while showmanship and fanfare are wonderful to witness, my guest’s tastebuds were dancing with the different bites she created between the tahini, red onion, and (her favorite) the incredible hot sauce condiment the waiter provided at the start of the meal. We rounded our meal off with Miriam’s Kanafe, a Syrian dessert with ricotta cheese baked with kadaif and topped with pistachio ice cream. This was a truly sweet and savory experience, as the baking brought out the savory notes of the cheese, while the ice cream added a bit of unctuous richness due to the pistachio.

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Braised Short RibsCourtesy of Miriam

All in all, Miriam is a great experience. There were many types of people, from friends sharing mezes to families spending quality time over delicious food. I am extremely happy that there is a location in Manhattan so that those who aren’t willing to make the long trip to Brooklyn can experience some of this amazing cuisine. Be sure to stop by Miriam as soon as you can. miriamrestaurant.com

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Carlos is a New York City-based journalist with 10+ years of experience covering a wide array of topics such as music, art, fashion, entertainment and health and wellness. Carlos has also had cover stories in publications in the US and UK.

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