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Fez Hummus Bar Gives Israeli Cuisine a Twist on Franklin Avenue

By Sonja Sharp | November 22, 2013 2:54pm
  Fez Hummus Bar adds exotic beers and surprise twists to Israeli favorites in Crown Heights.
Fez Hummus Bar
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CROWN HEIGHTS — It's Israeli comfort food with a modern American twist.

After months of anticipation, Fez Hummus Bar celebrated its grand opening on Franklin Avenue this week with unique interpretations of classic Mediterranean dishes.

The menu features falafel balls stuffed with salmon ($7) and pub-style fish and chips spiced with za'atar ($13), while classics like the shakshuka, a spicy egg and tomato stew, hew more closely to the traditional version. 

"The recipes are mostly a homemade type of stuff, but then we had to transform it a little bit," said general manager Ricardo Valdez, 43, who confessed that he was not familiar with Israeli food before starting the job.

"I want to have something different, something funky," he said.

It's also been a learning experience for head chef Moshe Benjamin, 63, who has spent more than 30 years in the restaurant business in New York. While all of his past experience has been in kosher restaurants, Fez Hummus Bar is not kosher.

"I used to deal more with the religious guys, Israelis, but here it’s mostly Americans," Benjamin said. "I want to serve the customer what I like, for them to like it too."

The bar keeps eight beers on tap including Scotland's Belhaven Black and Sri Lanka's Lion Stout. 

The blend of old and new seems to have pleased Fez's early diners, several of whom gushed on review website Yelp

"This cozy and elegant spot right near the train did everything right, from the soft pita to the well-flavored hummus," Yelper Anna N. wrote in her review. "I eat this type of food often and this menu has a great selection — classics to newer twists." 

Benjamin said he spends eight hours in the kitchen each day trying to achieve. 

"I’m not getting tired. I hope I’m going to continue like this for another 20 years. I do it with love."