Having introduced New York City to the art of cooking in a taboon, the traditional dome-shaped, wood fired oven used throughout the Middle East for nearly three millennia, as the opening chef of Manhattan's Taboon in 2004, Efraim Nahon has returned to the restaurant as executive chef and partner after a seven year hiatus.
The Israeli native's reprise of his role at Taboon signals the revitalization of its kitchen with a new menu of what Chef Nahon describes as more sophisticated renderings of Taboon's signature blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food.
Chef Nahon's partners, Danny and Ayala Hodak, dubbed his cuisine "Middleterranean" as he melded the multi-cultural ingredients and techniques of the regions to yield distinctive, exotic dishes that seduce all the senses.
A few of these dishes include scallop, leek, and spinach stew with parmesan creme anglaise and crispy chickpea crouton and the charcoal grilled Hudson Valley foie gras with house made quince marmalade, caramelized pistachio, black tahini, and toasted house baked brioche.
Following stints at the Flatiron District's Barbounia and Bustan on the Upper West Side in which he refined his characteristic style, Chef Nahon is launching a larger and more culturally diverse menu for Taboon that is augmented daily by specials.
Overall Chef Nahon says Taboon is incorporating more Greek and Italian influences, while presenting more vegetarian and seafood options.
“We're serving oysters here for the first time, and I've created a cocktail sauce that uses Moroccan souk chili powder for heat instead of horseradish,” he says. “I like doing that—taking an American classic and making it Middleterranean.”
Chef Nahon cites the potatoes that come with the hangar steak in which he has added tahini and smoked duck crumbles, instead of the American classic sour cream and bacon bits.
“Also we're roasting more and doing and more crudos and ceviches,” Chef Nahon says. “Basically we've elevated the food at Taboon, making it more sophisticated."
Those familiar with Taboon will appreciate the House Foccacia that Chef Nahon started baking at the restaurant 11 years ago, a puffy taboon baked bread brushed with olive oil and finished with rosemary, sage and fleur de sel.
In addition to his culinary duties at Taboon, Chef Nahon is tweaking the pocket food at Taboonette, which opened near Union Square in 2012. He is priming the quick casual concept for expansion.