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At Saro Bistro, chef Eran Elhalal celebrates the cuisine of lost empires (Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman) while championing the home cooking of his grandmother Sara. The cozy dining room in the heart of the Lower East Side would have impressed her for sure. While hints of life peek out from the kitchen (subtly spiced meat pie, escarole and herb salad, and lamb shoulder with braised cabbage), much of the food errs on the bland side. Indeed, you'll likely forget most of the meal by the time you turn the corner after leaving the restaurant. Yet for a fleeting moment, Balkan fare edges slightly farther away from obscurity.
Never had Balkan food? Fear not—it's damn bland. Maybe I'm being unfair to the culinary legacy of a region marred by centuries of strife. But even my waitress at Saro Bistro, a new Lower East Side restaurant, agreed. She explained that the... More »
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