Chef/owner Morou Ouattara; lamb chop with a plantain loaf, white-mint “caviar,” palm barbecue sauce, palm powder, and eggplant caponata. Photographs by Scott Suchman
It’s one thing for a chef to carry a signature dish from kitchen to kitchen; it’s another to cart the whole restaurant elsewhere (just ask Roberto Donna, who’s trying to make a go of his third iteration of Galileo). Morou Ouattara is attempting the latter right now with Farrah Olivia, the hypermodern Old Town dining room that closed in 2009. I reviewed the new Farrah in the June issue.
The restaurant is set up in the back room of Kora, the Italian restaurant whose kitchen he recently took over from his brother (before that, ironically, it was Donna’s Bebo Trattoria). It’s an odd setup—family-style Italian up front and Farrah Olivia’s past hits (shocked tuna with olive pearls; scallop with bacon powder and melon-seed milk) in the purple-draped back room. It feels temporary, like it could be a pop-up. Best case scenario, it will be. Right now it’s too hidden; I think the location, more than the cooking, accounts for the mostly empty tables I encountered. And it comes across more as a hastily planned project than an insider-y find. In the end, I left hoping that Ouattara’s food, bold and often excellent, finds a real home.