660 North Orleans Street, Chicago, IL, 60654
Price: $$$$$
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sifr - Chicago

Middle Eastern cuisine is generally viewed as heart-healthy and delicious, and sifr is one of the newest restaurants offering good-for-you and good-tasting food of the Middle East. Setting itself apart from Chicago's many other Middle Eastern restaurants, sifr offers a spectacular selection of grilled foods.

Chicago Eater notes that, "Chefs Sujan Sarkar and Sahil Sethi say they’ve both worked in Dubai where it gave the pair a good understanding of local cuisine and helped ignite Sarkar’s passion for grilled meats like kabobs. Sarkar, who admits to working in Dubai for six months, says he misses food off the grill while working at Indian restaurants. There is some cultural crossover between South Asian cuisine and the countries that many lump into the Middle East. But grilled food isn’t something that often get featured on Indian menus, at least in America."

At sifr, there is a lot of great grilled food. Hot off the grill, there's Maitake Mushroom (charred yellow pepper, zaatar, Meyer lemon and parsley), Chicken Shish Taouk (yogurt, cumin, blistered tomatoes and watercress), Hokkaido Scallop (fermented pepper, beurre blanc), and Lamb Adana Kebab (aleppo peppers, onions). Getting a great deal of attention are the Black Tiger Prawn, with toun and harissa emulsion, lemon, dill and pickled onion -- fabulous.

Sharing plates around the table is a feature of many Middle Eastern cultures, and the sharable plates at sifr are well worth checking out. Herb Falafel is perked up with Meyer lemon and harissa, the provocatively titled Amber Roasted Melon is enriched with feta mousse and pine nuts, and gets some tang from pickles and radishes; and Halloumi looks great dressed up with roasted beets and honey-pomegranate molasses.

"Curated to showcase a unique connection to Middle Eastern culture," the cocktail menu features beverages created to reflect the numbers 1-9, and there is also a very good selection of Scotch and other whiskies.