When Michael Mina took over the Marina location of Café Claude earlier this month, with plans to turn it into a "pop-up test kitchen," he promised that it would be quick turnaround. True to his word, the first concept is already preparing for take-off on Thursday, July 23.
Per Mina's June announcement, the first pop-up to emerge from the MINA Test Kitchen will be a collaboration between Mina and Adam Sobel, executive chef of RN74. Now dubbed Middle'Terranea, the menu will highlight the chefs' mutual admiration for Eastern Mediterranean food, stemming from Mina's Egyptian heritage and Sobel's Mediterranean roots. Flavors will pull from Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon, and the welcoming style of service is inspired by Mina's own family table. The idea is to serve the five-course menu family-style, with "dishes constantly coming to the table, like they do at my parents' house," said Mina. A series of salads, grilled and roasted meats and other Mediterranean favorites will be part of the spread, which will be available for $45 per person; tickets will be available for purchase soon, with an optional drink pairing for $30.
This will the first product of the test kitchen, which Mina hopes to use as an incubator for fresh ideas from his talented team of chefs throughout the Mina Group. The concept and chefs will rotate every three months or so (subject to change, of course). And eventually, the space could become the home for the most successful of the pop-ups, or simply spawn new restaurant concepts elsewhere in the city.
The series begins Thursday, July 23 and will be available Wednesday-Saturday evenings; ticket sales to come soon.