Since opening in June, the East Side’s Celesta (1978 N. Farwell Ave.), the restaurant that grew out of a successful series of Beatrix Foods pop-up food events, is helping make the local plant-based movement particularly soulful and flavorful. And beyond serving its regular menu (with a specials board), owner Melanie Manuel is evolving the business in more ways than daily service.
Celesta is starting a new Dinner Party series. The first one, on Sunday Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m., pays tribute to the restaurant that defined that space – Abu’s Jerusalem of the Gold, whose Middle Eastern specialties included falafel, (meat-based) shawarma and tabbouleh. Abu’s, whose run lasted from the late 1970s to late 2010, also served a rosewater lemonade that grew so popular that Celesta’s Manuel got the recipe and serves it now at her restaurant.
The dinner, served family-style, includes hummus and pita, tabbouleh, spinach pie, Mujaddara (rice-lentil pilaf), Lebanese okra, falafel and (for dessert) asafiri, which is a wonderful filled pancake. Plus Arabic coffee or tea, to finish the meal.
Tickets are limited for this dinner, so make your reservation now. Early-bird tickets are $50 per person.
Another building history detail: After Abu’s closed, the space was occupied by Thai restaurant Jownai Fouquet until August 2017.