Chef Tawfik Shehata was supposed to be taking it easy after he threw in the apron at Vertical, but the ambitious owners of The Ballroom—a new leisure complex opening in mid-December in the former Montana’s space on Richmond—made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. They want him to create a menu of local, sustainable, serious and seriously whimsical bowling alley food (yes, there will be actual bowling, too). We’re talking suburban classics, like hot dogs and burgers made from cuts of local beef, all ground in-house.
Taking his cue from Brooklyn Bowl, where New York City darling Blue Ribbon Restaurants supplies the top-drawer food, Shehata is finding the challenge irresistibly amusing. “I’m very excited because this is a whole new direction for me. I get to make food that’s fun, bordering on silly, but from the very best local ingredients.”
The final menu is not done, but expect to find buttermilk southern fried chicken made from naturally raised heritage birds, as well as breads and flatbreads made from Red Fife wheat. So far, the bottom line hasn’t interfered with the chef’s vision. “The owners came to me. They hired me because of my philosophy. They know I’m a huge proponent of local and natural, and that’s not going to change.”