Ever heard of “labne”? How about “m’anoush”? The names may be unfamiliar, but the flavors are just a short step from things you know and love. Labne—pronounced leb-nay—is a strained yogurt, which is thicker and creamier than Greek yogurt and utterly delicious. And m’anoush- pronounced man-oosh—is an Eastern Mediterranean flatbread wrap, cooked fresh to order on a dome-shaped griddle called a saj.
Now you can experience both at MarketStreet Lynnfield, at anoush’ella Saj Kitchen, a fast-fancy restaurant opened this spring by Nina and Raffi Festekjian, who grew up in Beirut, and wanted to bring the foods of their youth to the North Shore. The MarketStreet location is their second—the first is in Boston’s South End.
“I always wanted the suburban areas to have more choices as compared to Boston and Cambridge,” says Nina, who raised her three boys in Winchester. “When the opportunity came at MarketStreet, we didn’t hesitate,” despite some naysayers who claimed that suburban tastes may not take to an unfamiliar style of eastern Mediterranean food. “We thought that any time you serve good fresh healthy food, people will want to try it. Once they do, there is no turning back. You get hooked.” We asked Nina to share a bit more about the new restaurant.
NS: What drew you to MarketStreet?
The open space of MarketStreet seems to provide the perfect venue for potential guests to try out Anoush’ella. Also, the diversity of people visiting the mall made the venue attractive for us.
NS: What do customers find surprising about your menu?
The extensive options we provide to vegetarians, meat lovers and also those with gluten-free needs. [Also] the variety of flavors every bite of our flat bread m’anoushes give you. It’s the freshness that you can taste.
NS: Is there something that people overlook that they should really be ordering?
Many are not familiar with our Labne, which is a strained yogurt with a rich and tangy taste. If you like yogurt, you will be addicted to Labne. It comes with savory and sweet toppings as a compliment to many of our dishes.
NS: Can you describe the experience at anoush’ella?
We are a little more service-oriented [than other fast casual restaurants] and the dishes are based on chef selections versus highly customizable menus. While you order at the counter, we actually bring the food to you when it’s ready. We see ourselves more in the “fine fast casual” category and provide our food on regular plates versus disposable.
NS: What can you tell us about your beer and wine list?
The main intention of our selection of wine is to offer ones that go well with our food, which is full of rich spices. For the beer, we opted to go with some of our favorite local craft beers.
NS: Do you have future expansion plans?
We have already opened up a branch at Time Out market near Fenway and we are in discussions to open up two more locations over the next 18 months.
1205 Market Street, Lynnfield, anoushella.com