There’s a new culinary gem in the Ottawa Hills shopping center, and its name is Plat8 (that’s pronounced plat, not plate, mind you).
The farm-to-table restaurant, headed by local celebrity chef Moussa Salloukh, serves up ethnically-inspired and new-American dishes in a comfortable yet elegant setting. The eight-week-old concept opened to rave reviews and large crowds in the old Mac&Tongs space, but we don’t expect it to lose momentum any time soon.
Photo courtesy of Plat8
You might recognize Salloukh’s name from the wildly successful and colorful La Scola restaurant located on Airport Highway, but he’s also run several upscale burger joints along the way. There’s no doubt about it — be it Mediterranean, Italian or good ‘ol American comfort food, Salloukh has mastered all of it.
He credits his culinary prowess to his background. Salloukh was born in Beirut, but came over at the age of three and landed in Toledo — he’s been here ever since. So while he’s basically a native Ohioan, his childhood looked just a little bit different than the rest of ours.
“Growing up in an ethnic home it was all about food. Food is love, love is food. There was always food on the table,” says Salloukh. “Thanksgiving at our table used to be half traditional and half Mediterranean. The table was filled with everything from lamb, tabbouleh and hummus, and all of the great things we grew up on.”
Photo courtesy of Nick Amrhein Photography
He spent his childhood learning to make these traditional dishes, sitting in the kitchen with his mother, aunts and grandmother as they gossiped, rolling grape leaves and making pita breads and flat breads for the husbands.
“I just have memories of going around with my mother and grandmother as a kid, holding the paper bag as they picked grape leaves off of fences and things like that. So I think the inspiration definitely came from my ethnic background — my mom, my grandmother and my aunts.”
In fact, his favorite item on the menu is a traditional dish he grew up with, Kafta. The meal consists of an eight-ounce patty of ground lamb mixed with fresh onion, parsley, allspice and cinnamon, laid on a bed of fresh tabbouleh salad and topped with a cucumber and red onion yogurt sauce he makes in house. “It has a really neat flavor,” Salloukh says. “The cinnamon and the allspice just bring the life out of the lamb.”
Photo courtesy of Plat8
Along with the creative inspiration behind his dishes, Salloukh also gained a great appreciation for truly fresh food from his childhood, learning about the importance of smart sourcing from an early age. Today, he sources locally as much as he possibly can, finding local vendors and farmers to provide him with duck eggs, micro greens and of course, Ohio beef. When the farmers’ markets open in the summer, he’ll be visiting them daily to source local veggies.
While the menu will change often to incorporate Salloukh’s new ideas, market shifts and seasonal ingredients, he promises to serve his fried green tomatoes year-round. “They’re so great with just a little bacon aioli and some fresh basil — you can’t beat ‘em.”
Get the tomatoes, and the Kafta of course, but you’d be cheating yourself to miss menu items like the garlic and chorizo mussels, the roasted bone marrow with beets, the almonds served with local honeyed feta, and the plate of fresh burrata cheese. Regardless of your choice, we’re sure Salloukh’s culinary flair will bring you back to again and again.
Plat8 is open Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 4-11 p.m.
Call (419) 214-0370 to contact the restaurant.