A taste of the Middle East will soon bloom in Piedmont Heights by way of Toranj Middle East Kitchen which will offer dishes inspired from all around the region including Arab, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Turkish cuisines, the restaurant announced Wednesday in a press release.
Toranj (Persian for “orange”), not only “combines the best of Middle Eastern flavors, it also celebrates and pays tribute to the culture through art and history,” the release states. Toranj replaces Atmosphere, a longtime French Bistro, at 1620 Piedmont Avenue NE.
“We believe in teaching through experiences,” Amisha Popatiya, founding partner and engineer behind the concept of Toranj Middle East Kitchen, said. “By exposing our patrons to a unique culture through its cuisine and history, we hope to enlighten and spread awareness about Middle Eastern traditions. The menu speaks in one way and our interior, which includes touches of historical elements throughout, like the tulip, speaks in another.”
Lasting from 1718 to 1730, the Tulip Era was a brief period in the Ottoman Empire marked by cultural innovation, as well as new forms of elite consumption and neighborliness, according to the release.
Orange tulips have been incorporated in many ways at Toranj, including in wall murals, table vases and even a design on the menu. The flowers originated in the Far East and in the sixteenth century they were taken to Turkey and seen as a symbol of wealth and power. The tulip was once so treasured that the Sultan placed a guard in charge of watching over his flowers. Toranj playfully pays homage to him as well in art and books.
Popatiya worked closely on the menu at Toranj alongside Chef Peyman Rostami who formerly served as the private chef to Qaboos bin Said al Said, the sultan of Oman — a few highlights include fresh Barbari bread, made in house daily; spreads such as Pashmeki traditional hummus and Labneh; 12-hour slow-cooked lamb ribs; slow cooked duck leg, filet mignon kabob and traditional desserts like Faloode. Dishes will be garnished some with edible flowers.
Beer, wine, champagne, spirits and creative, photo-worthy craft cocktails will also be a part of the experience.
Toranj has kept the “perfect bones” of the long-standing quaint house and opened it up a bit, transforming smaller rooms into an open, more modern space while “maintaining a purposeful boutique feel.” A semi-circular bar greets guests as the heart of the space, with seating along the sides complete with basket lights and hanging greenery add warm touches. Art murals painted by local artists are shown throughout as well. Two private spaces are available for small groups in the back. A front patio will be open mid-summer for additional seating outdoors.
Toranj Middle East Kitchen is a family affair with four family members at helm. Amisha and her husband, Altaf, are seasoned entrepreneurs. They formerly owned share in Tin Drum Asian Kitchen and played a key role in the company’s growth. Nilofer Hamirani, Amisha’s sister, and her husband, Sajid Hamirani, are also accomplished entrepreneurs with many investments throughout Atlanta and have a combined 30-years of experience in the service industry. Arman Rashidi will be a familiar face at the restaurant as Toranj’s operating partner. He also has a wealth of industry experience with over 20-years in the food service business.
Toranj will be open seven days of the week: Monday through Thursday from 5:00 – 11:00 pm; Friday and Saturday from 5:00 – midnight and on Sundays from 5:00 – 10:00 pm.