Saturday - Jul 22, 2017

Restaurant Review- Masada offers a taste of the Middle East in Chicago


Restaurant Review- Masada offers a taste of the Middle East in Chicago

Shadi Ramli, the Jordanian born chef and owner of Masada, situated in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, is ready to admit that he named his restaurant after his mother, who emigrated with her family from Jordan to Chicago in 1984, when Shadi was just seven years old.

Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East and its history, culture and languages will tell you that ‘Masada’ means fortress, in both Hebrew and Arabic. The Ramli family brought a great deal of the Middle East culinary culture to Chicago, when in 1990, they opened their first restaurant in the city, Sultan’s Market, situated in the nearby Wicker Park, where it quickly became a well-known spot for those who appreciated that exotic part of the world.

As a teenager, Shadi recalled working alongside his mother in the kitchen of the family restaurant, observing and learning how his mother would prepare mouthwatering dishes that appealed to a rapidly growing clientele, whilst at the same time dreaming and preparing for the day when he would open a restaurant of his own in the city.

That very day came just a few short months ago, after, according to Shadi a planning process which took ten years to perfect, always knowing that when he did eventually open his own restaurant it would be named after his mother and she would be given the responsibility of planning the menu and training the kitchen staff.

Masada’s menu can be best described as a tightly curated collection of some of the favorite dishes garnered from around the Middle East. Some of the highlights are a lentil soup which is garlicky and refreshing; and Koshari, an Egyptian pasta dish made from lentils, rice, chickpeas and a spicy tomato sauce.

For diners looking for something more meaty, Masada offers a wide choice of halal meat dishes that come in a choice of tapas, wraps, stews, and kebabs.

After a fulfilling meal, visitors to the Masada restaurant can relax in thedownstairs bar, which serves up classic American cocktails with a Mediterranean twist, with the most popular among them being “Bourbon Turban”, a black tea infused remix of whiskey sour, “Moroccan Mojito”, a potpourri of hibiscus-infused rum and mint leaves.

Shadi also prides himself in offering his diners the choice from an extensive collection of Arak, the anise-based liquor popular which is so typical of the Middle East, with Masada offering the only collection of its kind in Chicago.

Covering close to 7,000 square feet, spread over two floors and three patios, Shadi Ramli has succeeded in creating within the walls of Masada, a typical Middle Eastern atmosphere in the heart of the Windy City.

Situated on 2206, North Carolina Avenue in Logan Heights Chicago, Masada is open every day from 11.00 to 23.00.

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