Chef Chat

Chef Chat, Part 3: Sophie Elhage of Skewers Mediterranean Café & Grill

Fresh from chef chat parts one and two with Sophie Elhage of Skewers, welcome back to the best part of chef chat: part three, the food.

We begin our culinary journey through Sophie Elhage's Lebanon with a spin-off of a dish she created in college: lamb meatball pasta. The new menu item is already a hit, and it's obvious why. The capellini pasta is tossed in a sweet marinara sauce, sprinkled with chunks of feta and parmesan cheese. The Lebanese parts are the perfectly gamey lamb meatballs, seasoned and stuffed with feta cheese and pine nuts. Totally delicious.

There's a lot going on in the huge Skewers salad. Romaine, cukes, tomatoes, radishes, artichoke hearts, fava beans, and roasted red peppers form the base, complemented by a creamy, yet healthy, house dressing. Highlights include the the candied walnuts thrown on top. They're richly coated with caramel and yield a snappy crunch.

Moussaka is a must-order appetizer for veggie fans. The roasted eggplant mingles with garlic, onions, and chickpeas in a reduced tomato sauce, a steaming, seedy slaw that warms an eater right up.

Left are the spicy potatoes, a truly fragrant side order. Elhage won't reveal how she makes them so spicy, or what gives them that special citric kick. But whatever it is, it's working. Instant favorite! On the right are a variety of crispy rolls: in one is a blend of feta and a Lebanese cheese resembling asiago; another is stuffed with beef and sautéed onions, pine nuts, and spices; the third is packed with seasoned spinach. I haven't met anything I didn't like that's wrapped in phyllo dough and fried, but these are especially flaky and buttery, and particularly awesome. Also, in case you're wondering about the neon pink garnish, they're pickles -- like the originals, but earthier and rootier.

The chicken kabobs, one of the most popular dishes, are extremely tender and lightly spicy. Dip the hearty chunks of chicken into the white, fluffy puddle of sauce: a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, and whipped ice.

Skewers' signature baklava latté is perhaps the perfect dessert. An invention of Elhage's, she only gave three hints about its ingredients: honey, pistachios, and none of that Starbucks flavor syrup. But it tastes like she melted a hot pan of homemade baklavas into creamy whole milk, so I was too busy sipping to ask any further questions.

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Mandy Oaklander
Contact: Mandy Oaklander