Looking for a Kosher or Halal restaurant to host your next big dinner? A former Samar by Stephan Pyles chef has the answer
We get a lot of restaurant questions sent to Hatch HQ, but the trickiest usually focus on dietary restrictions. We usually try to help out.
If your husband only eats nuts and seeds and things birds would eat, for example, we’d send you to Mudhen. Looking for meat? Pappas Bros, Nick & Sam’s, Palm or Knife are at the top of our list. No carbs? No problem: go to HG Sply.
But what if you’re throwing a dinner party and need to keep Kosher? Or maybe you need Halal food? Former Samar by Stephan Pyles chef Barak Ozcan has you covered. The Turkish-born chef is now the top chef at Urban South, the all-day restaurant at the Westin Park Central Hotel. He says he’s developed quite a niche by catering to special dietary needs, whether Paleo, vegan, Kosher or Halal. (As for locavores, you’re mostly out of luck. The restaurant touts its use of locally sourced ingredients, but I spotted very few.)
“We’re one of the few kitchens in the are that can produce Kosher and Halal meals,” told me recently. “There’s a huge demand for that. We’re also very flexible” regarding how far in advance a party must commit, noting that it takes at least 24 hours to properly prepare (and bless) the kitchen for Kosher meals.
Beyond special meals, Ozcan has been retooling Urban South to broaden its its appeal beyond hotel guests.
“We’ve added burgers and tacos to the lunch menu, so people who live in the neighborhood or work nearby can come in for lunch and get out for about $12,” says Ozcan. “And we have so many international guests asking for Texas steaks, we’re refocusing the menu on steakhouse classics at dinner.
“It took me a while to realize that my true passion is being a hotel chef, not working in a stand-alone restaurant,” he says.