Photo Credit: BIS

Meat – Middle Eastern – Waiter Service
Sunday – Thursday: 12:00pm – 10:00pm
Saturday: 7:30pm – 12:00am
1207 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Orthodox Union (OU)



I love a good laffa stuffed with shawarma as much as the next guy. In fact, I don’t really get tired of the typical fare that you might find at any given Israeli restaurant in America. But there are many components of the broader Middle Eastern flavor palette that the standard kosher restaurant usually tends to ignore.

At BIS (which opened in November), Chef Maher Chebaro is trying to change that. He brings three decades of experience in owning and operating highly acclaimed restaurants everywhere from his native Lebanon to cities across America. Chebaro has taken some of the things that you know and love about Israeli food, and provided a more pan-Arab spin.

The vibe is casual, the flavors are bold, and the concept is a welcome one.

When I was invited to BIS, I wanted to check out some of the dishes that might not typically be found in your run-of-the-mill Israeli restaurant. Yet I couldn’t stop myself from ordering the Yemenite Meat Soup. I was actually wondering why the word “meat” was in the title until I got my bowl. Sitting in the center was an entire rib of flanken on its bone.

If you’re wondering how I tackled this challenge, the fact that the flanken is braised for six hours helped tremendously. Not only was I able to cut the meat with the side of my spoon, but the bone easily came out as well. The ample flanken and scattered vegetables imparted a pleasant meatiness into the hawaij flavoring, making this a must-order for every soup lover.

Virtually every culture around the world has a form of dipping bread in something. While BIS offers hummus (the obvious top pick in the region), I’d suggest ordering the Muhammara. This Syrian dip is made of red bell peppers mixed with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. The granular texture gives it a more substantial mouthfeel than hummus and it’s a nice change of pace for those of us who love dips, but might be looking for something new.

Speaking of foundational foods, meat and potatoes are often used as the example of basic food. In their vein of doing basics with a twist, the best appetizer at BIS is the Steak Batata. The meat is these marinated mini nuggets of steak, the potatoes are crispy cubed hash browns, but the star of the show is the lemon pomegranate sauce. Not only is the flavor profile unique, but the potatoes somehow stay crispy and make the dish really jive.

Ideally, you’d walk into BIS with a large group of people and order a bunch of things to share. The appetizers certainly would work well that way. But when it comes to an entree, your choice might be harder. If you have some help, order the Mixed Grill. Essentially a slightly smaller portion of each of the three kebab plates combined, it would be quite the purchase for a single person, but a wonderful sharing option.

The Shish Tawook (chicken breast) is juicy despite the oversized chunks, the Steak Kebab has a wonderful flavor from its marinade, and the Kofta Kebab is well-seasoned and structurally sound. Like the individual kebab plates, it comes with Lebanese rice and roasted vegetables. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the delightful roasted pearl onions that manage to stand out amongst the beautiful assortment of roasted vegetables.

The aforementioned Lebanese rice also makes an appearance if you order the Samke Harra. This is a broiled branzino filet topped with pine nut relish and served on a plate split between the rice and a semi-spicy, cooked, citrus tahini sauce. Getting a little bit of everything in one bite will change the way you feel about some of these ingredients. The cooking of the tahini makes it thicker and the citrus taste is intriguing, the rice’s texture contrasts with the softness of the fish, and the pine nuts add a good crunch. I’d never have thought that mixing different citrus juices into tahini and baking it would work, but the result is simply amazing. If there’s somebody in your party who likes fish more than meat (or even just likes trying new things), know that they can walk into BIS with a great option on the menu.

The Upper East Side has really embraced BIS. It’s got a great look, it’s casual, and the food is elevated just enough to make it feel special. It’s a great neighborhood place to meet up with friends and have a great time with a great vibe. Middle-tier restaurants are scarce in Manhattan, but perhaps BIS can start a new trend.

It helps that they can really cook.


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Nati Burnside lives in Fair Lawn, NJ, and is a man of many interests. The opinions in this piece are his own, but feel free to adopt them for yourself. In fact, he encourages you to do so.