Taboon (773 Tenth Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets) is a restaurant in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of NYC that consistently serves excellent Mediterranean food in a very nice atmosphere with white brick walls, and bright light coming in from its many windows during the day. The brick oven near the entrance will keep you warm during the cold months. Taboon used to have a “bring-your-own-beverage” (BYOB) policy, but I haven’t kept up with their latest on this policy. Over the several times that I have visited Taboon for dinner and brunch in the last 4 – 5 years, I usually enjoy their cocktails and occasionally their wines.
Taboon offers some seasonal dishes, although most dishes on the menu have stayed there for years and for good reason. They are all excellent! Whenever I go with friends and family, we order most of, if not all, the vegetarian dishes which are mostly the appetizers or small plates or salads. So, as you read this post, please bear in mind that there are few, if any, comments on the main courses.
What did we order for dinner?
- Meze / Appetizers:
- Zucchini cakes: This is the best zucchini dish one can get in NYC! I am not a fan of zucchini and I am a zucchine cake convert after eating this dish, may be because I cannot taste the zucchini at all in this dish! The feta, parmesan, scallions in the zucchini cake, more than make up for the zucchini. The greek yogurt and the small piece of lime on top add welcome tartness to this dish. Make sure you eat this with that bit of lime on top and you will be thrilled! Not sure why the Yelp reviewers say this is bland and tasteless. Frank Bruni of the NY times calls this dish a formidable pleasure in this post.
- Pita Falafel: This is one of the best falafel dishes in NYC! In the photo, the 3 falafels are hidden under the parsley and the tahini. The falafels are crispy outside and are moist and intensely flavorful inside. The roasted potatoes were bland this time, but they are usually well roasted and perfectly salted.
- Bread and sides:
- House bread: This is the housemade puffy bread brushed with olive oil, rosemary, sage, and fleur de sel. This bread is on the house at dinner time, although not so during brunch. This is brought to your table before you order anything for dinner, but by the time the dishes arrive, you will have finished this bread!! You will need to order another one for the table to accompany your dishes. If you are ordering another bread, get the sambusak (house bread filled with feta cheese, jalapeno, and onions). This too will be gone from your table into your tummies even before you realize it!
- Tzadziki: Greek yogurt, with cucumber, zaatar, mint, and garlic. This dish arrives in a very small portion. Order two if you like greek yogurt.
- Schoog: This is a spicy Yemeni paste made with cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, lemon, caraway and cardomom. For those faint of heart, beware, this is extremely spicy!! You will enjoy it if you dip a small portion of the bread in this paste, and spoon a portion of the tzadziki on the bread and the paste.
- Taboon Trio: You get to choose from the tzadziki, hummus, babaganoush, schog, red pepper spread, and taramosalata. We usually order the tzadziki, the hummus, and the schoog. This time we got the taramosalata instead of the schoog (because we ordered the schoog anyway). We did not know what a taramosalata is. Taramosalata is made from salted and cured fish roe of carp and cod and may be mixed with lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil according to this Wiki page. I found the taramosalata a tad too salty, but liked it overall as a dip for the house bread and to go with the spicy schoog. More about other types of roe / caviar in this NY Times article. The hummus is supposed to be a formidable pleasure at the restaurant according to this NY Times review by Frank Bruni.
- Salads (not offered during brunch?)
- Farmhouse salad: This is their best salad and one of the best salads in NYC. The dish includes haricort verts, romaine, sliced almonds for some crunch, dried cranberries that are sweet and slightly tart, pistachio crusted goat cheese that is crunch and creamy – in a chestnut vinaigrette.
- Halumi salad: I love this salad, but not as much as the one above. I find the sauteed goat milk halumi very salty, like feta, although different in texture. I love the juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onion, fennel, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil in combination with the halumi.
- Peach nut salad: This salad is relatively new on the menu (or rather I have not seen it on the menu in a long while). I was very excited to read about the combination of fresh peach slices, spicy walnuts, along with the romaine, roasted peppers, and feta. What a disappointment it was for me! Somehow, the combination did not work for me. The peach slices were not ripe enough, the walnuts were not spicy enough, the roasted peppers were too mild, and the feta and romaine were just about OK. I need to eat this once more (and with lower expectations) to change my opinion.
- Main course
- Lamb Kebabs: This is one of the best kebab dishes in NYC. The (fairly large) ground lamb meatbballs are sitting on roasted eggplant, and a tomato, mint, and cilantro salad. Must order this dish if you eat lamb.
What desserts are worth trying?
Although I have never tried any of these (despite my several visits to the place), I wish I had ordered:
- Lava Cake: Molten chocolate cake with chocolate sauce served with Turkish Coffee icecream
- Silan: Praised by many Yelpers. This is vanilla icecream, topped with puffed rice, date honey and caramelized pistachios
- Date Sponge cake: Warm date sponge cake soaked in a rum sauce, topped with date and pecan compote served with double English cream and a fig reduction
What’s great at Taboon for Brunch?
- Shakshooka Merguez: Two eggs baked in a skillet in a tomato ragout, with jalapeno and paprika and served with spicy lamb sausage. This is a MUST order dish! Get this and you will be very happy. Please do get a side of the house bread, so you can dip it in the tomato ragout.
- Sabeech: This is a cold sandwich packed with flavor and very filling too. This is the house bread filled with deep-fried eggplant, an egg, chopped salad and tahini.
Taboon is a place well worth going to for date night or with a group. The food and service are consistently excellent! It is not necessarily value for money, but you will get fantastic food for the money you spend and you will not be disappointed.
Taboon is participating in NYC Restaurant Week from July 16 – Aug 10, although I must admit that I have never been there during Restaurant Week. I have always had to make reservations for dinner on weekends, when it was not Restaurant Week, so if you plan to go during Restaurant Week this summer, do make sure that you have reservations and enjoy your meal there!!