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From left: Wood-oven-roasted carrots with herbed labneh and pistachio dukkah; lamb kofte with saffron yogurt and pomegranate molasses. Photo by Lucy Beaugard

Ash’Kara Is Open in LoHi

Chef Daniel Asher and Culinary Creative Group are serving playful, contemporary Middle Eastern food at their vibrant new restaurant.

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Good news for lovers of hummus, pita, and falafel (a.k.a. everybody with taste buds): Ash’Kara began serving its delicious take on Middle Eastern cuisines yesterday. Chef Daniel Asher, who you may recognize from River and Woods, Acreage Ciderhouse & Eatery, and various other Mile High City restaurants over the years, is leading the kitchen. And while his menu at Ash’Kara includes plenty of Israeli, Moroccan, Turkish, and even Spanish classics, you should also expect chef-y, unique touches. The masterminds behind the Culinary Creative Group (also of Señor Bear, Bar Dough, the Tap & Burger chain, and Morin) are known for it, as is Asher.

Drawing on the nationwide popularity of Israeli cuisine that began a decade ago, when Michael Solomonov opened Zahav in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Asher and his team—including chef de cuisine Chris MacGillivray and sous chef Jeffrey Weston—are also channeling Asher’s family’s roots in Israel and time he spent there in his 20s. For example, his Uncle Shimon insists on using Bulgarian chickpeas for hummus, so that’s what you’ll taste in Ash’Kara’s ethereal rendition. The restaurant’s tiled wood-fired oven will turn out endless rounds of chewy-soft, slightly tangy pita bread to go with that hummus.

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Asher and his team are cooking outside the box, too. Exhibit A: the duck tagine. Rather than cooking pieces of duck in a Moroccan clay pot (called a tagine, as is the resulting stew that’s made in it) as you might expect, Asher instead marinates a whole Rohan duck in berbere and orange zest, glazes it with date molasses as it roasts on the rotisserie, and serves it atop a tagine-cooked stew of wood-oven roasted root veggies and Israeli couscous. It’s Weston you have to thank for the creamy “ketchup tahina” sauce served with Ash’Kara’s exceptional falafel; it sounds strange, but we scooped up every last drop.

Shike Design has transformed the former Bremen’s Wine & Tap space next to Señor Bear from a dark, open space into a vibrant yet intimate restaurant. Chuppah-like structures break the room into cozy sections; plants dangle from macrame hangers; and a “Tel Aviv disco meets Miami Vice” patterned wallpaper in mint and blush evokes ‘80s art deco (in a good way). Turkish-style lantern lighting and lots of woven textiles add warmth. It’s a space—and a menu—that is sure to lure Denverites in on a regular basis.

2005 W. 33rd Ave., 303-537-4407

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