It seemed like a coincidence that New Times was invited to lunch at Mandolin Aegean Bistro to celebrate the anniversary of its garden. After all, it was only a few days earlier at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival that celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian confessed his love for the intimate Design District spot, calling it a "chef's restaurant."
The lunch was hosted by Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya, restaurant and life partners who will soon welcome a child. In fact, the couple joked before the harvest lunch began that "spring was certainly in the air," as Koutsioukis pointed to her growing belly. That set the tone for the lunch, which was clearly a celebration of new beginnings as well as good food. As friends sat at two large communal tables, the food started coming out fast and furious. Hummus, feta, olives, prawns, and lamb -- all served family-style and garnished with fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers just plucked from the garden. Here are the highlights.
Fresh tomatoes growing in the garden.
Barrel-aged feta, served with Aegean olives and homemade pide bread.
Hummus topped with sautéed Turkish pastrami and toasted pine nuts.
Marinated grilled halloumi cheese, served with sungold cherry tomato salad.
Grilled butterflied tiger prawns over garden greens and nasturtium flowers.
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Grilled lamb chops over orzo pilaf.
Greek yoghurt parfait with local strawberries, walnuts, and honey.