Oded Rauvenpoor, the Israeli chef-owner behind the late, lamented Falafel Bar, is opening a new restaurant on Sheridan Drive.
This time, it's personal.
OR by Falafel Bar will offer more "multi-ethnic dishes with focus on food common to the Middle East region – not just Middle Eastern, but Mediterranean, African style food, with flavors authentic to my roots," Rauvenpoor said. "This is more about my flavors, what I think about the food."
In Hebrew, "or" means light or brilliant, he said.
Rauvenpoor is currently painting the space at 3545 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, formerly Himalayan Kitchen. "We're renovating it, and hope to open in two months," he said.
In addition to favorites from Falafel Bar, he'll do more of an Israeli and Middle Eastern model, he said, with a la carte meats and starches, and lots of little tapas or mezze plates. With an oven called a taboon, similar to the Indian tandoor, OR will offer fresh housemade pita bread.
Shashlik, a skewer of young chicken dark meat marinated in crushed onion and turmeric, will be grilled and served on fresh baked laffa bread. Grilled onion, grilled tomato and sumac finish the plate: "Simple, flavorful and light."
Cauliflower and eggplant will be presented in various forms, and Arab-style desserts, all handmade, he said.
"This one is different. This is about the new road," he said. After 15 years of Falafel Bar, he fell ill, lost his business and saw his marriage end, he said. He returned to his native Israel for a year, "to take care of my body and my mind."
He returned with plans for a restaurant that would better showcase the heart of his cooking. "This one is more of a boutique Israeli establishment," he said. "I want to represent a new start, and merge the old with the new."
Rauvenpoor said he was kicking off the new restaurant with a series of $25 sneak peek dinners, offered to people who respond to a Falafel Bar post on Facebook.
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