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 email@example.com.