Right in the heart of midtown–First Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets to be exact–is Hummus 21, a Kosher Middle Eastern restaurant that provides super-fresh homemade classics like Hummus (of course), Babaganush, Mediterranean grape leaves and my personal favorite, Bureka, a baked puffed pastry stuffed with wild mushrooms and potatoes. Should you go here, I strongly suggest starting your dinner off with their soft and creamy Hummus spread topped with extra virgin olive oil and pardley on their warm, soft and puffy Whole Wheat Pita Bread–which I think is the best is town. I truly have never had a pita this big and puffy before!
The Bureka pastry is warm and flaky and the mushrooms and potatoes inside are so flavorful that you might just decide on doing a double order and skipping your entree–they are THAT enticing! The Tabuli here is extra flavorful–it tastes like it is made with all organic ingredients including bulgar, cilantro, tomatoes and scallions (the lemon viniagrette it is tossed with makes it so “summery” tasting and refreshing for a warm August night)! The Felafel is fried to a deep brown and is mildly spiced–and served with a wonderful light green yogurt and parsley sauce.
For an entree, I got the Mixed Kebab Platter which is enough for two or three people to share and includes roasted chicken and beef kebabs, Pargiot (marinated cubes of BBQed dark ckicken meat), Kebab Sultani (a 50/50 mix of g round beef and lamb) with a large side of roasted red and green peppers and fragrant Mejedra Rice. The Grilled Salmon is a platter that also includes the Mejera Rice and an assortment of grilled vegetables–it’s a favorite among the health-conscious in chic Sutton Place and you probably half to take half the platter home.
No Middle Eastern meal is complete without the classic dessert Baklava in my opinion, and the version served at Hummus 21 is dreamy. While most Baklava tends to have a very firm walnut filling, Hummus 21’s homemade version has a soft but plentiful walnut filling. It features delightful perfectly golden flaky homemade layers of pastry and is served warm. The Briwat, also known as Middle Eastern Cigars are another winner–they consist of a long hollow piece of hard crust filled with a delicious mixture of ground beef and fresh herbs.
There are plenty of gluten-free and vegan at Hummus 21. The quaint atmopshere features dark lighting and modern banquets and prices are moderate (most entrees are $5 to $6.50 and most entrees ranges from $19.50 to $28). No doubt about it–this is one of Sutton Place/Midtown East’s best kept secrets and soon it won’t be a secret at all. Every table was taken when I ate there around 6 on a weeknight last week. For more info, go to www.hummus21.com. Reservations are not necessary but they are recommended!