Fig: Jewish culinary heritage celebrated at new cafe, bakery
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, February 14, 2013
3/28/13 at 7:43 AM
Chef Dan Kachel, whose background includes mostly French and Italian cuisine, recently has found himself exploring the world of Jewish cooking.
"It has been a learning curve for me," said Kachel, who operates the new Fig cafe and bakery in the lobby of the Charles Schusterman Jewish Community Center.
Kachel is director of food services for the center, which also houses the Sherwin Miller Museum, the Mizel Jewish Community Day School and a health and wellness center.
He said he was recruited for the position by Drew Diamond, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.
"Drew has been a longtime friend of my family, and he knew I was looking for employment," Kachel said.
Kachel's mother, Nancy, also is helping with Fig. Neither is Jewish, but, according to Nancy Kachel, "We are heavily involved in the center. We love it here."
A chain-and-post barrier outlines Fig's territory in the lobby, which includes seating for 22 diners.
"Our food is not kosher, but we do cook Jewish cuisine," Dan Kachel said.
We had the egg-and-avocado sandwich ($7.75), pan-seared chicken sandwich ($7.75), cocoa mountain cake ($5.25) and the soup of the day ($3 cup, $6 bowl), a green bean-and-carrot soup.
We chose the green bean-and-carrot soup over the matzah ball soup with some reservations, but our selection turned out to be a good one. Tender beans and sliced carrots were cooked in a lightly seasoned broth and topped with almond slices. The combination was surprisingly flavorful.
The chicken sandwich included mesquite marinated chicken, roasted tomatoes and black bean spread. It was so thick it was difficult to hold together, and the tomatoes and spread gave the sandwich a smoky flavor. The chicken was tender and lightly charred on the edges.
The egg-and-avocado sandwich was just that, chopped egg and a mix of smooth and chunky avocado. The flavor was OK, but with no condiment it was a little dry and crumbly.
Sandwiches came with potato chips and pickles.
The cocoa mountain cake actually was two small, light and airy dark chocolate cakes drizzled with a milk chocolate sauce. It was a perfect dessert to share.
Hot tea served in a silver pot fit the ambience of the restaurant space.
Faux plants help set off the dining space from the remainder of the lobby, and prints of works by Jewish artist Theodore Fried decorate the walls. The original works are in the museum.
"I'm working on a lot of recipes, so the menu will change once in a while," Kachel said. "Within the year we will have a bakery to produce all of our breads, muffins and pastries."
The day I was there the lobby was as quiet as a church sanctuary, and Diamond was working on a system to provide soft background music.
The community center is located in the first building to your left when you enter the Zarrow Campus off 71st Street. Fig is open to the public.
2021 E. 71st St.
Charles Schusterman Jewish
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-
Friday; accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover.
Original Print Headline: Culinary heritage
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Smoked turkey with artichoke and basil is nested in watercress on fresh-baked bread. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Cocoa mountain cake, drizzled with milk chocolate sauce, has a feathery texture and delicate flavor. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World