Mouthful

Fresh Levant Bistro brings gluten-free fare to North Raleigh

Fresh Levant Bistro brings gluten-free fare to North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village.
Fresh Levant Bistro brings gluten-free fare to North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village. Greg Cox

Fresh Levant Bistro is Anita Khalek’s first restaurant, but the idea has been germinating for years. The seed, you might say, was a doctor’s prescription.

It all started when Khalek began having health problems and a doctor recommended a diet that eliminated, among other things, gluten. The results were so convincing that she converted her family to a gluten-free diet, and in 2009 started a blog (myfreshlevant.com) to share her recipes. For Khalek, a former hospitality industry executive who had managed resorts in Washington, DC, Vail and Beverly Hills, opening a restaurant was the logical next step.

That’s just what she did three weeks ago, with the opening of Fresh Levant Bistro in Lafayette Village. Everything is gluten- and soy-free on a menu that also notes whether a dish is vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free or nut-free.

Two menu categories — “sandwiches + flatbreads” and “soup + salads + sides” —account for the bulk of an offering that’s liberally sprinkled with Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as goat cheese and fig flatbread, chicken tawook sandwich, vegan labneh (made wth almonds, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs) and Lebanese-style roasted beets with barrel-aged feta. “Breakfast bites,” served from 7 a.m. to noon, cover the spectrum from house-made grain-free granola to shakshuka, a northern African dish of eggs braised in a spicy tomato sauce served with Lebanese batata harra potatoes.

“Entrees” (available after 5 p.m.) are currently limited to three dishes: grilled chicken with a pistachio-herb sauce, grass-fed kafta kebabs, and seared salmon with cauliflower puree, spinach and a saffron pumpkin broth. Khalek plans to expand the entree offering, with lamb stew and a vegan dish already in the works.

Fresh Levant Bistro (8450-106 Honeycutt Road; 984-200-3999; freshlevant.com) is open Tuesday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The website is slated to go live this week.

Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Reach him at ggcox@bellsouth.net.

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