I really thought I was over the never ending fried chicken and waffles trend. And then I walked into Batata Pita Bar in Windsor Terrace and saw schnitzel and waffles on the menu. Now, before you cry “gimmick,” I’d like to point out that subbing in Israeli-style schnitzel–thin, crispy slabs of boneless breast meat–is actually a functional upgrade from your traditional fried bird brunch binge. With all deference to certain old-school eateries, it just doesn’t make much sense to serve a bone-in piece of meat over a waffle. You end up with a syrupy mess that you can’t pick up without getting your hands fully coated, but can’t eat effectively with a knife and fork, either. I for one, hope this boneless chicken and waffle thing catches on. At Batata, it also doesn’t hurt that their crispy chicken comes on homemade coconut-milk waffles lathered in honey chili butter and maple syrup.
The schnitzle-waffle is certainly the most offbeat dish at Batata, which opened in December, but it’s a good intro to their playful but simple approach. The married couple behind the Israeli-inspired restaurant say they called it Batata (after the Hebrew word for sweet potato), “because it captures what we have created–a place that is humble and nourishing but also a bit of a treat.”
That philosophy is apparent, especially in the namesake sweet potato falafel, where the tuber is a nice treat mixed in with the usually hearty chickpea dish. Surprising sweetness shows up again on baba ganoush and honey toast, but despite these unusual touches, Batata’s menu is actually primarily built on solid Middle East staples–an excellent, very tahini-heavy hummus, rich and sour labne cheese, and fresh Israeli salad–which appear on sandwiches, toasts or alongside platters.
Batata is pretty much an all-day affair, starting with delectable breakfast sandwiches served on malawach, a traditional Middle Eastern fried bread. There are also fresh-made smoothies throughout the day, as well as beer and wine, and a few dessert options like Nutella-spread malawachs–although it would be hard to get through a single course here without satisfying your sweet tooth. All in all, a super solid neighborhood version of the Middle-Eastern-comfort-food meets fresh-Mediterranean-flavors trend we’ve been seeing ever since Glasserie took off–a trend I’m nowhere near tired of yet.
3021 Fort Hamilton Parkway (near E. 2nd Street); 347-599-1260; batatabk.com