Shaya is a good sized place with additional seating available at the bar and on the patio. A long bench seat lines one wall where most of the 2-tops are located. The other tables are more generously spaced and all enjoy the light of spoked fixtures with silver tipped bulbs hanging from the ceiling and a wall of windows to the street. There is background music but the noise level was low which was good considering the percentage of tables that were occupied. Beyond the open wood-fired oven for the pita bread is the patio which was not well filled, but it was a warm day. There is different menu at lunch than in the evening, which we looked at outside.
Plates are mostly small and designed to be shared. This allows you to sample a good selection of the tasty and flavorful food this place is turning out. Our nice waitress was most helpful in selecting our choices as well as wine. Food comes out in clumps sometimes feeling rushed, so the table usually had several different dishes at any one time. Warm delicious pita bread is continuously brought to your table throughout the meal and all went very well with it.
We started with the hummus that comes with a choice of flavorings. We had the chanterelles, octopus, wood roasted corn and sumac enhancement. The hummus itself was creamy and tasty but the fillings were wonderful. It simply sang with flavor and nice textural contrasts and was perfect with the warm soft yummy pita bread.
The watermelon, Bulgarian feta, green olives and chermoula was also tasty. The sweet crisp watermelon worked well with the salty cheese and olives. Another good choice.
The tabouleh salad was nicely prepared but didn’t have the standout flavors of the other 2 starters. The parsley was shredded rather than finely chopped which gave is more texture but it was just okay by me.
The Ikra was paddlefish caviar nestled in a spread with shallots. It worked really well together and was very tasty on the pita as well as by itself in a spoon. The greens mostly were visual but the onions gave it some harder crunch than the soft caviar.
The Lamb Kofte was served with wood roasted okra, eggplant, tomatoes and tahini. The vegetables were all well cooked and the okra was surprisingly un-slimy. I might have had the well seasoned meat slightly more rare but it did have good flavor as did all its accompaniments. The sauce was a bit salty if you ate it alone.
Crispy Halloumi was served with peaches, smoked Turkish chilies and pecans. It was fried cheese with fresh and preserved peaches. The cheese was not melty and a bit dry but the sauce was divine and gave a lovely flavor to the mild cheese. The nuts added a bit more crunch to another good dish.
Shakshouka was chermoula sunchokes, spicy chilies, tomato and eggs. The sauce was very tasty but the ratio of it to egg was off to me. I would have put more eggs or less sauce, as the eggs are an important sauce when the yolk is broken and it didn’t have enough to distribute throughout the dish. The sauce was really herby and fairly spicy. Nice chunks of sunchoke studded the dish.
For dessert we had the Milk and Honey which was a mix of cheesecake, mixed nut granola and burnt honey gelato. The sauce was a caramel/molasses whose sweetness worked well with the slightly tart cheesecake. The gelato was also nicely sweet and the granola added a great crunch. The separate parts were all nice but it was best when all parts were mixed together in a bite.