Chef Mimmo Alboumeh radiates passion just like any true Spaniard. The chef and restaurateur’s latest restaurant (he also owns Red Pepper Taqueria and Coldbrews Oyster Bar & Grill) is MAYA Steaks and Seafood. Named after his daughter Maya, Mimmo has instilled his native Spanish influences into a modern steakhouse. MAYA just began lunch service yesterday, and Chef Mimmo gave us a rundown of the menu.
Here we present Chef Mimmo’s take…
On lunch service.
The menu is similar to the dinner menu. For instance, we are serving the same appetizers and portion sizes as dinner, but we just took a little hit on the cost for appetizers to make them lunch-priced. We’re hoping people will order a glass of wine- we knocked $3 off the same wines we serve for dinner.
On favorite lunch dishes.
- “Pan Tumaca” is what I think of as the Spanish chips and salsa. It’s the popular upscale appetizer in Barcelona. I create an olive oil, sherry and garlic spread and scrub it on the bread, then char it. To serve, I shave Manchego cheese on top.
- “Caesar salad” uses less traditional ingredients. Grana padano is similar in taste to a Pecorino Romano. It’s the black anchovies from Ortiz that really make the difference in this salad though. A 3.5-ounce jar of these is like $15 a piece, but the taste is incredible.
- “The Spaniard” is basically a charcuterie plate inside bread. I think of it like a Spanish BLT with meats and cheeses, then I top it with a calabrese and piquillo pepper mayo.
On things that will ‘blow your mind.’
- The Carpaccio. A prime beef cut pounded thin and served with truffle oil, Manchego and capers.
- Roasted grapes. Spinach salads are so overdone, so I wanted MAYA’s salad to be different. Instead of doing cranberries, I seasoned grapes with olive oil, salt and some smoke paprika and roasted them for 20 minutes. The grapes taste firm but they’re juicy inside.
I tasted several different beef distributors and settled on Braveheart. As of now, I think we are one of the few restaurants in Atlanta using Braveheart. Their cattle is in the top two percent of grading and labeled as either prime or choice grade. If I wanted to, I could use their DNA traceback system to see what farm each cut of beef came from.
On creating the menu.
Every word on the menu is meant to be there. The menu lists just the dish title and the ingredients because the spotlight is on the dish, not the description. I edited the menus myself, rearranging words and changing apostrophes until it was perfect. This menu resembles me.
On creating to serving.
I spent three months creating the recipes for MAYA. Now that we’ve been open for a few months, everything needs to synchronize together on the line. If I make a dish and have a recipe, then it has to be executed as smooth as possible.
On Spanish siestas.
When I had chefs from Spain come to visit, they said, ‘You have to work 6 hours for service each night? That’s crazy!” The afternoon siesta is very important, and then people are meant to dine late at night. They aren’t tired because they’ve had a siesta. Food is more of experience in Spain. I’ll starve until I can sit down to enjoy a proper meal.