Dining Out: Fatoush

Fatoush Restaurant at the New Orleans Healing Center. Photo by Renee Bienvenu.

Fatoush. Photo by Renee Bienvenu.

The New Orleans Healing Center labels itself as a provider of services, products and programs promoting physical, nutritional, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, economic, environmental, cultural and civic well-being. For those of us uninitiated in the holistic powers of yoga, or the therapeutic benefits of the healing arts, but still interested in improving our overall well-being, Fatoush Restaurant inside the NOHC offers a path to inner peace which travels directly through the stomach.

The menu will be familiar to anyone who has ordered a shawarma sandwich around town, but the kitchen’s commitment to high-quality, natural ingredients—grass-fed beef and lamb, free-range chicken, unrefined flours, etc.—are recognizable in the final product. All meals should begin with the appetizer platter. In addition to the standard hummus, tabouli and stuffed grape leaves, this vegetarian smorgasbord includes a few lesser-known selections, such as piyaz, a cool, creamy, hearty, yet refreshing salad of white beans, thinly sliced green bell pepper and garlic mixed with tahini. But the fat cigar of crispy pastry stuffed with herbs and cheese is the standout, a cheese stick sophisticated. Haloumi cheese gets a good char on the grill for a smoky flavor and a coarse texture. All starters are served with the house- baked bread—inch-thick, circular loaves with a soft crust and moderately chewy crumb.

Of course gyros are on offer, but the lean and crisp shavings of beef and lamb are atypical to the fatty, processed versions served elsewhere. Pide are thin pastry curled around the edges and stuffed with ground lamb, feta cheese or grilled vegetables. Moussaka comes bubbling and bulging with fresh vegetables, ground beef and a nutmeg-rich béchamel. The falafel is pattied, studded with greens and well-fried. The bulgar pilaf coated in a luxurious tomato sauce is the smart move.

The dining room is airy and populated by the cross-section of peoples that have become the Marigny. At one table, a person rattles on about her “sort of documentary” she is shooting, while at the counter, a Real Housewife of Transplanted Brooklyn takes too long to order. Ignore the scenery and its foreboding of gentrification. Focus instead on the food, which is the best Middle Eastern in the city.

2372 St. Claude Ave., Suite 130. (504) 371-5074. Monday-Sunday, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.