The opening of Sabra Grill popped on my radar early last week (on Twitter I think) and I made the trip over to the 12 Corners area after work to see what the deal was. I was excited to see that it was a certified Kosher Israeli restaurant since I can’t think of any other restaurant that makes that a focus in our area. It’s located in the new Meeting Place that took over the former Bagel Bin Cafe location and also houses a Yolickity (frozen yogurt) and is the future home of another Bruegger’s. Not sure why they are opening in what is already basically the bagel district of Rochester, but that’s a topic for another time!
For those that aren’t familiar with Israeli food, the menu has a lot in common with other Mediterranean/Halal style to go places with pita style sandwiches and platters so it shouldn’t be too alien for most people. The feel is very much Chipotle like where you select your sandwich/platter type and then move on to the main ingredients and then the toppings. Main items include shawarma (spit roasted cones of meat) to kebabs (grilled skewers of ground or cubed meat), parigot (grilled chicken thighs) and falafel (fried balls of chickpea and herbs) and toppings include basics like hummus, tahini, tabbouleh and babaganoush and some more unique items like matbucha (hot red pepper and tomato salad), Israeli salad and pickles.
To go along with the base part of the menu, there are some classic Kosher offerings like latkes, knish and kubeh (fried beef and onion croquettes) and a selection of salads, other Middle Eastern, and simpler burger/hot dog style items to round things out. Definitely something for everyone here and a simple option one stop stop for people trying to eat Kosher.
I had the chance to try a falafel pita that evening topped with Israeli salad, matbucha, and hummus. The falafel balls were hand formed to a smallish size, fried fresh and five of them were generously loaded into the pita on top of the toppings. The texture was right on and they were mildly herbed with hints of garlic that meshed well with the hummus. The matbucha wasn’t quite as hot as I was hoping but brought some bitterness and light sweetness to the table. Israeli salad consisted of a bunch of different fresh diced vegetables with a light dressing and added needed crisp freshness. A solid pita and one that whet my appetite to come back and try their other offerings.
When I visited, they had already run out of the shawarma and kebabs for the day due to higher than expected demand and hopefully they will work out some of the early kinks to make sure all menu items are available through the day. Despite the Chipotle like environment, this is a locally owned Rochester based business and you could tell that the employees were a cohesive group and very family like. I’m sure this will be a huge hit in the Kosher community and well worth a visit to try something familiar, but unique in its own right.