Page 2 of 3
Dinner at Serevan is an affair. Madikians walks around to each and every table, talking, listening, accommodating requests. He bobs and weaves between the kitchen’s hot and cold stations, joining and assisting his young but well-trained staff, including sous chef Ian Wright, as they attend to a full house of guests. Or maybe Madikians is inspecting plates—wiping, adjusting, garnishing, making each one just right; or he’s pairing a wine with a guest’s meal. Then, on their way out, diners make a point of saying good-bye, and all are wished well “until the next time.” It’s Madikians’s philosophy that patrons and staff are like family and should be treated accordingly.
The dishes at Serevan are greatly influenced by Mediterranean, Persian, and Moroccan elements. Madikians impressed on me his attraction to “the dance” of sweet, sour, and salty taste combinations that create an exquisitely balanced sensation for the palate. Entrees often include dried, grilled, roasted, or pureed fruits or vegetables; many fresh herbs like tarragon, several kinds of mint, dill, thyme; preserved lemons; limes; couscous; lentils; free-range meats; and freshly caught seafood. As with all the best cuisines of the world, Serevan’s food is not based on complexity. It’s quality. Use the best, the freshest, and make it yourself; keep it local and seasonal, and the result is simply good food.
At Serevan, each dish has a wide range of appeal. The menu, while keeping some favorites on hand, changes weekly—consistently making accommodations for the cycles of the season and supply of ingredients. Take a look at this small sampling: Couscous crusted Chatham cod with arugula, seared watermelon, and fresh mint. Ground lamb tart, spinach puree, harissa (Moroccan hot sauce), and curried labne (yogurt cheese). Poached shrimp, fresh oysters, roasted corn, spicy watermelon, and organic micro greens. Organic yogurt soup, barley, black currants, fresh herbs, and curry oil. Warm squid salad with capers, Granny Smith apples, cauliflower, and fresh dill.
For starters, I tried an organic roasted red beet salad with orange sections, pistachios and pistachio oil, arugula, and Greek feta, as well as chilled green pea soup with pineapple mint, tarragon, chanterelles, and mussels, splashed with Aleppo chile pepper oil. The pea soup was delicious, and I wish I didn’t have to say it like this, but it really was minty fresh. It also had a nutty, musky flavor; it was creamy, buttery, and salty, which carried the flavor of the sweet mussels perfectly. The beet salad was sweet and enjoyable. The scarlet hue of the beets, the brilliant color of the orange sections, combined with the greens and tangy feta were a clever combination of flavors and colors.
For entrees I sampled a lamb stew with lime, dates, fresh herbs, and basmati rice as well as the couscous-crusted Chatham cod. The lamb was deftly done, combining the tender and sweet of the meat in a rich, cinnamon-infused base with a zing of lime. The rice was delicate and delightfully prepared. The cod was incredibly moist, encased beautifully in a crunchy couscous blanket. The peppery arugula played nicely against the sweetness of the watermelon—which tastes more like a tomato when grilled.
All the desserts at Serevan are house made. I had what only could be had: the chocolate apricot sticky toffee cake with chocolate caramel sauce and orange ice cream. Yes, it was that good.
I also tried the flourless pistachio chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream. It probably would have been wiser to go with a fruit-type dessert to contrast the richness of the toffee cake, but nonetheless, it was delish—moist and dense but not too heavy. And the creamy pistachio ice cream was the perfect match.
If he’s not growing it in his own garden, Madikians makes a concerted effort to buy seasonally—and organically when possible—from several local farmers, for his greens, vegetables, herbs, meats, and poultry. Some of them include Miglioreli Farms in Tivoli, Madrose in Smithfield Valley, and Sky and McEnroe farms, both in Millerton. And of course, there are the excursions to the city twice a week for specialty items and fish from the market.
Though not outrageous, Serevan is not inexpensive. Entrees run from the mid $20 range to $36; appetizers $8 to $12. Desserts are $7. There is a full bar and a compelling selection of reasonably priced wines, mostly French and Italian, which Madikians finds conducive to, and reflective of, his artesian, classic, Old World style of cooking.