Feed Me

The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

I’ve never been the biggest burger fan, but I’m a sucker for kebabs made from ground meat, such as Turkish kofte kebabs, Pakistani seekh kebabs or Persian koobideh kebabs, which I had for lunch at Zar Café in St. James.

Once the seasoned, ground meat (beef sirloin, in this case) has been pressed along the length of a flat, wide skewer, the chef makes crosswise furrows in it, to give it added texture and to pick up a better grill char in spots. Buns are often where the burger goes wrong — please skip the brioche, the kaiser roll and any other “interesting” ideas — but the classic Persian kebab accompaniment is a big pile of basmati, the king of rices. Instead of ketchup, this kebab came with an addictive little sauce, tomato based and seasoned with the tart Middle Eastern spice sumac.

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Zar is a curious-looking establishment. The design is extremely opulent with lush upholstery, recessed lighting, decorative columns, golden accents, a well-appointed bar and a glassed-in open kitchen. And all of this is squeezed into a tiny box of a restaurant, 30 seats tops. Yet it does not feel cramped. A triumph of smart design.

Zar Café is at 413 Lake Ave., St. James, 631-862-4444.