'Intellectual Cafe' Serves Iranian Fare on West Eighth Street

By Andrea Swalec on July 24, 2013 12:19pm 

GREENWICH VILLAGE — The Village has a new taste of Tehran.

A recently opened business on fast-changing West Eighth Street hopes to not only offer Iranian-inspired cuisine and tea, but also to serve as a meeting place for creative and academic types.

Owned by a 17-person collective of Iranian-Americans, Cafe Nadery serves fresh, seasonal food and will host regular art exhibitions, poetry readings, book talks and more, co-owner Pooyan Aslani said Tuesday.

The concept for the "intellectual cafe" was born when Aslani and friends realized that New York had no Iranian hangout, said Aslani, a 37-year-old Bushwick resident and adjunct professor in civil engineering at NYU.

"The idea came to us that we needed a gathering place in New York City for Iranians and non-Iranians to talk about politics and other topics," he said. "We wanted to become that place."

The 50-seat 16 W. Eighth St. restaurant that opened June 22 and offers free wireless Internet is named after a beloved Tehran cafe that first opened in the 1920s, though it shares no formal relationship with its namesake.

Chef Louisa Shafia, author of "The New Persian Kitchen," created Cafe Nadery's fresh, seasonal menu and trained its cooks.

In the lineup are the Iranian garden salad with feta cheese, herbs, walnuts, radishes and lavash bread ($8) and a vegetarian beet burger made with grated beets, green lentils and white rice, topped with tamarind and date chutney ($10).

The drink menu includes fragrant, Iranian-style black tea ($2.50), Persian rose tea with bergamot and rose petals ($4.50) and Gimme! Coffee ($2.50).

The alcohol options are white, red, rose and bubbly California wines ($6 to $13 per glass) and a wide selection of craft beers ($4.50 to $6 each).

Chef Louisa Shafia shared this recipe, which is served as a special at Cafe Nadery:

Cucumber and Watermelon Salad

Serves four

1 pound unwaxed cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise
3 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Sumac for garnish

Seed the cucumbers and cut them into half-moons 1/2 inch thick.

In a bowl, combine the cucumbers with the watermelon and scallion.

Add the salt and vinegar, and mix well.

Portion the salad onto plates, and top with equal portions of the feta.

Garnish with a generous sprinkle of sumac, and serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from "The New Persian Kitchen" by Louisa Shafia, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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