Whether it’s a housemade sourdough that comes with an elaborate compound butter or a slightly stale loaf that you eat because it’s free, bread is one of the most powerful tools in a restaurant’s arsenal.
Shukette, a Mediterranean restaurant in Chelsea (and Shuka’s sister spot), understands this. You could have a meal consisting solely of their garlic-embedded frena bread, za’atar-showered laffa bread, and gozleme bread stuffed with potato, provolone, and cilantro. And yet, the entrees here are worth prioritizing—especially if you come with a group.
A few worth seeking out are the “Fish In A Cage” and the joojeh chicken. The former consists of a whole porgy that gets sandwiched between two wire racks before being grilled and topped with herb pistou. The chicken—which is admittedly only a small half bird—is juicy and tender throughout, improved with dollops of toum and Shukette’s homemade hot sauce.
We should also mention the biggest section on Shukette’s menu: the shuk. These small plates, like a serving of grilled romanesco with fresno chili sauce and a saucer of golf-ball-sized tuna meatballs, won’t disappoint. But they also won’t make you want to spread roasted garlic on everything going forward (like the frena will) or leave you wondering how feasible it is to grill something inside of a cage for your next dinner party.
The next time you're planning a group dinner, come to Shukette and order a bunch of things for the table. This is a great place to share some dishes on the West Side, especially if you consider liking carbs a key part of your personality.
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We would gladly spend years learning how Shukette makes this round, garlicky loaf so light and fluffy. You need to order at least one for the table, but you should really order two: one for general consumption and another for when the dips arrive.
A rectangle of carbs made of pure potato, provolone, and cilantro. This is a great bread to try on its own and one we really wouldn’t recommend using for the dips. Enjoy this as an extra small plate.
A thin, grilled flatbread-esque option that comes showered with za’atar and fruity olive oil. We suggest that you order the frena or gozleme over the laffa, but this is still a good item if you want some extra gluten on the table.
Tangy yogurt that you could probably put on anything at this restaurant. The toppings change frequently—we’ve seen this with pomegranate seeds and fried zucchini flowers.
A knot of Syrian string cheese that rests in a shallow pool of oil, nigella seeds, and Aleppo pepper. Do you like spicy string cheese? If so, order this.
A forgettable shuk, as the breading tends to fall off when you’re trying to remove the squid its skewer. Skip this one.
Five or so meatballs resting in some tangy lemon yogurt. They’re the size of Titleist golf balls and border on being overcooked. Focus more on the breads and entrees.
Fish In A Cage
You get a lot of fish with this whole porgy option, and the skin is coated in Shukette’s herb pistou and some of their homemade bang bang shata hot sauce. Get this for the table, especially if you have more than two people with you.
Juicy, juicy chicken. The portion size seems a bit small, but this is still a delicious poultry item that you can share. If you’re coming with a date, this would make a good large plate to split while you talk about your favorite chicken recipes.
Tahini Soft Serve
Shukette’s soft serve (their only dessert) is vegan, and it’s something you should save room for. It comes topped with strips of havla and seasonal toppings (like a candied, jam-like butternut squash). Shukette could open up a whole offshoot ice cream business, and it would immediately be one of the city’s best options.