Dish With A Difference

We’re talking about: Levantine brunch

Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Barboun launched a new weekend menu this month which celebrates traditional feasts from the Levant

19 February 2020
bakerybrunchMediterraneanmiddle easternrestaurants
  • The Dish: Eggs Levantine - poached eggs and pastirma layered on English muffins with hollandaise
  • The Place: Barboun - 61-67 Great Eastern St, Hackney, London EC2A 3HU
  • The Chef: Fez Ozalgan

What?

Barboun, which opened in London’s Shoreditch at the turn of the year, have launched their new Levantine weekend brunch, with the sizeable menu designed to showcase the rich and vibrant history of the Levant with dishes drawing heavily upon traditional flavours, and fresh, locally sourced produce.

Split into six separate sections, including bakery and sweet, the new menu has eggs as a particular focus, with dishes such as steak and eggs (flat iron, fried egg, and charred Turkish ezme) and sucuk and eggs (baked eggs with a Middle Eastern sucuk sausage) catching the eye.

Their eggs Levantine, meanwhile, is a classic English dish with a Syrian/Turkish twist, with poached eggs and pastirma (air-dried cured beef popular across the Levant) sitting atop a traditional English muffin with hollandaise.

Barboun also have nine different fresh breads and pastry offerings including za’atar croissants, spinach and feta gozleme, and simit served with honeycomb and clotted cream.

Levantine granola with dried apricots, nuts and maple is a standout from the fruits and grains section (with granola recently cited as a “top trend for 2020”), while a decadent lobster pastitio (a baked pasta dish often seen in Cyprus and across the Mediterranean) with kefalotyri cheese is a highlight from the mains.

Where?

Barboun – which means red mullet in Turkish – takes inspiration from flavours of Levantine coastal towns, with particular focus on fish and vegetables cooked over open flames and on josper grills. Seasonally led, and with a specific deli element serving food to go, the grill has an all-day dining operation with a dedicated breakfast menu.

“Growing up with a sizeable Turkish-Cyrpriot family, hospitality started at breakfast: our kitchen table would be laden with different dishes, with a pot of hot, strong coffee sitting on the stove, and family and friends dropping in and out throughout the morning,” said Ozalgan at the launch of the new brunch menu.

Why?

Flavours from the Levant are very much on our radar at the moment, with major restaurant operator Kimpton highlighting the region’s potential in their recent 2020 Culinary & Cocktail Trends report.

Almost 40% of the chefs surveyed by Kimpton said that cuisines from countries in the Levant, including Israel, Turkey and Lebanon, will be among the most influential in terms of menu development for 2020.

Turkish cuisine, in particular, is gathering momentum in the restaurant arena, with our resident food development expert Sparkie this week highlighting its potential.

“If we were going to put our finger on cuisine that could have growth in 2020 then Turkish would definitely be one of them,” he said.

In a recent survey, CGA and AlixPartners found that, in the last five years up to August 2019, the amount of Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants in the UK increased by more than 60% to a combined 668 restaurants, with the Turkish bakery concept spawning one of the most talked about of recent London openings, Oklava Bakery and Wine in Fitzrovia.

Brunch, meanwhile, is all the rage, with a recent survey from global intelligence platform Streetbees finding that 49% of Brits are eating more brunch than a year ago, with cuisines such as Venezuelan and Sri Lankan among an ever-growing number to release renditions in the past year.

We’ve seen several lesser-known Asian cuisines, including Filipino and Singaporean, start to have a larger presence in the UK food scene over the last year. And, spurred on by the growing popularity of Turkish, we could see wider flavours and dishes from the Levant continue to break into the mainstream over the coming year.

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