In this particular stretch of the Upper West Side, the neighborhood staples are French Roast, Five Napkin Burger, and Jackson Hole — at least, that’s how it was a short time ago. Not anymore.
Bustan’s interior is the perfect mix of sleek, modern, and warm Mediterranean décor. Choosing from an extensive menu of delicious appetizers, flatbreads, salads, and entrées is tough — everything looks amazing. Since looks can only get you so far, we ordered four appetizers to try.
As a rule, any time a server offers me a unique-sounding egg dish, I take them up on it. Chef Efi Nahon’s soft egg burek did not disappoint. Accompanied by mushrooms, chestnut cream, and white truffle oil, the flavor is unlike anything I’ve ever had before: smooth but velvety, sweet but not quite milky. The roasted eggplant was grilled until it had in intense smoky flavor, then cooked with coconut milk, cashews, mustard seeds, curry leaf powder, and nutmeg.
If you’ve never heard grilled octopus described as fluffy before — well, now you have. Far from dense and overly garlicky, these tentacles were marinated for a full 24 hours before hopping aboard a bed of white-bean purée topped with green harissa and botargo (dried fish eggs). Down to the detail of the soft, yet toasty, bread and succulent olives, Bustan is an all-around win. We didn’t have room for the lamb and lobster terracotta, but I’d recommend going for it; it’s worth noting that the wood-fired taboon oven they cook it in was hand-built, brick by brick.
Final tip: I’m not a big dessert fan, but as we hustled to make a movie, we literally shoved spoonfuls of the Turkish sundae (made with shredded helva, vanilla gelato, crispy rice, and caramelized nuts) into our mouths until we were practically out the door.