Chef Daniel Asher has a crazy idea about brunch: "It's a way to fuel your body and mind for the rest of the day," he notes. "It's not heavy."
That's the goal for the new brunch that launched on Sunday, April 14, at Ash'Kara, the LoHi Mediterranean restaurant with a strong emphasis on Israeli cuisine. So don't expect bacon on everything from French toast to Bloody Marys. in fact, Ash'Kara is pork-free. "We want to be respectful of that tradition," the chef explains.
Instead, Asher and chef de cuisine Chris MacGillivray use unique ingredients and presentations to add bold flavor. A morning flatbread layers hearth-baked pita with "everything spice," capers, pickled onions and house-smoked sable; dollops of labneh (creamy cheese made from yogurt) add brightness without weighing down the dish.
Mediterranean flavors abound on a pickle plate, which right now includes Persian cucumber, beets and green tomato (other seasonal vegetables will be rotated in), and on the Kibbutz Breakfast Plate, which allows you to taste baba ganoush, labneh and dill tabbouleh salad, along with more of that fluffy pita bread. And a plate of wood-roasted asparagus comes topped with a jiggly poached egg. Middle Eastern classics like shakshuka (eggs cooked in spicy tomato sauce), falafel and the luscious house hummus are all excellent options, too.
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There's a theme building here: Asher points out that about 85 percent of the brunch menu is meatless, as part of his goal is to have guests leave feeling fueled rather than force-fed. But the meats that do appear are worth mentioning, especially the feather-thin strips of duck prosciutto that top gooey saganaki served in a cast-iron pan — probably Ash'Kara's richest brunch dish, and definitely one meant for sharing, considering that the cheese is fried in duck fat. A lean bistro steak with a zippy seasoning is served with latkes made from Asher's mom's recipe. For bigger appetites, there's a brunch tagine (built for two to four people) of lamb sausage, potatoes, chickpeas, eggs, eggplant and other accoutrements.
Asher's at his most evocative when he channels his childhood memories, as with the Israeli doughnuts called sufganiyot, which resemble miniature jelly doughnuts that the chef fills with housemade jams that balance sweet and savory notes. The plan is to make preserves from vegetable scraps that would otherwise be tossed; the opening menu's sufganiyot ooze with a jam of blood orange, smoked salt and cara cara orange zest, but the chef promises sweet carrot and beet jams, too.
Ash'Kara is located at 2005 West 33rd Avenue, next door to sibling eatery Señor Bear. Brunch is served on Sundays only, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 303-537-4407 or visit the restaurant's website for more information.