A Middle Eastern restaurant is taking over the space formerly home to Atmosphere on Piedmont Road near Ansley Mall. Named Toranj, a Persian word for “orange,” the restaurant is designed to educate as well as feed. “I want to teach through experiences,” says Amisha Popatiya, who founded the Toranj with her husband, sister, and brother-in-law. The Popatiyas bring experience as former partners in Tin Drum Asian Kitchen.
Scheduled to open in late June, Toranj will serve dinner nightly, offering a menu inspired by Arab, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian, and Turkish cuisines. There’s even a little French influence, Popatiya adds. Approximately 60 percent of the dishes will be familiar items, with 40 percent providing innovative takes designed to enlighten diners’ palates. Operating partner Arman Rashidi curated the menu with chef Peyman Rostami, formerly private chef to the sultan of Oman. Options include wagyu koobideh kebabs, 12-hour slow-cooked lamb ribs, filet mignon tabrizi kebab, vegan “shrimp” kebabs, and turmeric parmesan cauliflower. Spreads like labneh, traditional pashmeki hummus, and mast khiyar (cucumber-herb yogurt) will be available with nan-e-barberi bread baked inhouse.
Wine, bottled beer, and house cocktails will be served. “We will have some drinks that are commonly loved in the city and others that have Middle Eastern influence,” Popatiya says. Toranj’s signature beverage will be a twist on an Old Fashioned called Tulip & Turban. Other drinks will include citrus and saffron.
The tulip is a prominent motif at Toranj. The Tulip Era references the period in the Ottoman Empire from 1718 to 1730 marked by cultural innovation. The flowers originated in the Far East and were seen as a symbol of wealth and power in Turkey. As legend has it, tulips were so treasured that the Sultan hired someone to guard his flowers. “At one point, tulips were traded as the value of gold,” Popatiya says. At Toranj, orange tulips will be visible in murals, vases, and menu design. They’ll also be utilized in menu items and craft cocktails.
“We have the opportunity to expose our customers to so much,” Popitaya says. “We’re proud to be playing tribute to something once forgotten.”
The Toranj team is renovating the space to open it up and modernize it. They’re adding a semi-circular bar, art that plays homage to the Ottoman Empire, basket lights, and hanging greenery. Two private dining areas will take up the back of the space, while a patio opens out front. “Toranj is a family affair. We’re working hard to give a 360-degree Middle Eastern experience,” Popitaya says.
The post Toranj Middle Eastern Kitchen hopes to educate guests about the Tulip Era appeared first on Atlanta Magazine.