Published May 19th, 2016 at 8:00 AM
Chef Cherven Desauguste and the restaurant name Mesob might ring a dinner bell for fans of Ethiopian and Caribbean cuisine. Several years ago, Desauguste and Mehret Tesfamariam partnered on MesobPikliz, a venue on Independence Avenue that featured the two cuisines.
Mesob (3600 Broadway, Suite 1015) is a new restaurant venture with a shorter name, a midtown location, and a more refined approach to food preparation and presentation. The new 3,100 square-foot restaurant has a full bar, seats nearly 100 people, and will celebrate its grand opening Saturday at 5 p.m.
Chef Desauguste, who moved from Miami to Kansas City, previously worked as a sous chef at Argosy Casino restaurants and as executive chef at Lakewood Oaks Golf Club in Lee’s Summit. He was eager to apply his polished culinary techniques and plating to the traditional cuisine of the Caribbean and Ethiopia. Desauguste teamed once again with Tesfamariam, a server that he originally met at the casino, to develop the updated concept.
“We have been working on the new space for two years,” said Desauguste. “We built the space from scratch.”
Tesfamariam’s ancestry traces back to Eritrea, a small country neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan in East Africa. The Ethiopian portion of the menu features classic staples such as doro wat and doro tibs served with spongy bread called injera. Doro wat is a spicy dish consisting of chicken drumsticks marinated in lime and then simmered in a spicy berbere sauce with garlic and ginger root. The dish is served with hard-boiled eggs and ayib, a fresh Ethiopian cheese.
Zilzil tibs is an entree of grilled strips of tender beef that are marinated and sauteed with onions sliced, garlic ginger, heirloom tomatoes, and jalapenos. The dish is finished with awaze, a spicy Ethiopian sauce with a thin consistency. Other entrees include whole snapper marinated, pan-fried, and served with vegetables, and a traditional version of beg tibs, or boneless lamb sauteed with onions, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, pepper and tomatoes.
“The beg tibs is baked in pottery, the traditional method in Ethiopia,” said Desauguste.
He will prepare the lamb dish using the same technique for authenticity. Look for numerous Ethiopian vegetarian dishes and sambusas, fried pastry stuffed with spiced ground beef and potato.
The Caribbean half of the menu includes Desauguste’s specialties, such as grilled Atlantic salmon with sautéed and roasted carrots, beets, onions, squash, asparagus, and sweet potatoes, finished with a coconut smoked tomato coulis.
“The salmon is one of my best dishes,” says Desauguste. “We’re doing our own thing, presenting true Caribbean flavor.”
The equatorial cuisine highlights foods from Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba. Familiar island-based seafood like conch will be available as a special. For the regular menu, save room for spicy drunken seafood pasta. Desauguste douses shrimp, mussels and clams in a fragrant rum sauce and bouquet garni (herbs). The seafood is tossed with cherry tomatoes, arugula, and angel hair pasta. Adventure seekers might opt for tassit cabrit, or lightly sauteed and braised fried goat, served with plantains and spicy cabbage slaw.
“A favorite appetizer is my signature jerk black tiger shrimp with mango, papaya, and avocado salsa, and plantain chips,” said Desauguste. “It has such vibrant color.”
You will want to try the Caribbean fritters made from grated taro roots and fresh herbs that are pan-fried and served with cilantro sauce. The menu also features steak — ribeye, 7 oz. filet mignon, and a 13 oz. strip — for Midwest landlubbers that prefer to keep their feet dry rather than explore Caribbean waters.
The lunch menu features a wide array of items: Caribbean hot wings, Caesar salad, island burger, and turkey club, all priced under $12. A half or full rack of ribs are glazed in a sweet and spicy sauce made with ginger ale and served with cranberries and apple coleslaw for a tropical take on Kansas City’s famous barbecue.
Desserts made in house include tequila creme brulee, rum cake, and red velvet upside down pineapple cake. Beverages range from fruit-based smoothies and juices to Ethiopian coffee. You can also opt for island-themed cocktails like the Jamaican Bobsled, a blend of Appleton Rum, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, pineapple juice, and ginger beer.
Chef Desauguste is eager to showcase two cuisines known for a traditional look and taste with a fresh presentation and emphasis on quality.
“My food is made with fresh produce, meats, seafood and spices,” said Desauguste. “We offer a refined look at Ethiopian and Caribbean dishes without the fine dining prices.”