The Dish: Soul Food

’s new Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant Maydan centers around community.

(Photo by Jennifer Chase)

A little pushback from city officials about cooking with open flames in the middle of a restaurant wasn’t going to stop Rose Previte from realizing her latest dining concept.After agreeing to several safety measures, she jokes “Eventually the city saw it my way,” and Maydan was born.

The cozy, two-story communal retreat serves Middle Eastern comfort food prepared just as Previte intended – over a central fire pit. The bazaar-styled space, tucked away in the back corner of an indus- trial building off 14th Street NW, opened its doors in November. But before that, Previte and the restaurant’s chefs, Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison, visited Morocco,Tunisia, Georgia, Lebanon and Turkey to eat, cook and learn.They returned with a new appreciation for the diverse people they met and the incredible hospitality they experienced. Subsequently, the trio built Maydan’s menu as an homage to the grandmothers who welcomed them into their home kitchens, the Syrian refugees with whom Addison cooked in Istanbul and the couple in a small Georgian town who hosted them at their 30th wedding anniversary feast.These personal stories fuel every aspect of the menu and Previte hopes the sentiment goes both ways:“We want you to feel something and have a whole experience,” she says,“So, when you walk in the door and you see the fire and you feel that energy, I think we’re accomplishing that.”

Bread called tone is cooked in the labor intensive traditional tandoori style using custom clay ovens that reach upwards of 900 degrees. Hummus, baba ghanoush and other familiar dips appear alongside lesser- knowns that include bright pink-hued beet borani and walnut red pepper spread (muhamarra). Meats, seafood and vegetables are all cooked over the hearth as are family-style sharing plates like whole turmeric-rubbed chicken and lamb shoulder. Condiments each priced at $1 are no-brainer additions to every dish.Think harissa, tahina and whipped garlic toum.

(Photo by Jennifer Chase)

Maydan is a not only a tribute to Previte’s travels, as her first eatery, nearby Compass Rose is, but also to what she calls the “soul food” of her past. Growing up in a Lebanese-Sicilian household surrounded by a Lebanese immigrant population in Ohio, she became accustomed to living in a tight community where eating thoughtful, quality food was the norm. Looking back, her memories are centered around the table, where family and friends gathered to celebrate, mourn or simply catch up.

The word maydan means square or gathering place and though it has Arabic origins, the translation is the same in several languages. For Previte that definition sums up her goal – a neighborhood spot where locals can eat, drink and, most importantly, come together. “We’ve had people come in for celebrations, we’ve had people come in when they’ve lost their jobs,” she says. “We haven’t started a revolution yet, but there’s time.”

Maydan | 1346 Florida Ave. NW | maydandc.com

WHAT TO ORDER:

Beet borani ($8); Carrots with lemon and harissa ($9); Aleppo lamb ($12)

Rose Previte (Photo by )

Shrimp is cooked over an open flame then finished with chermoula, a blend of lemon, garlic, parsley and saffron.(Photo by Jennifer Chase)

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