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Near East Cuisine Meets Westside at Clay & Fire

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2 minute read

By Kevin Collison

Clay & Fire, the new restaurant specializing in Turkish and other Near East dishes, has one foot on the Westside and the other still in Turkey thanks to hassles related to Covid-19.

Chef Brent Gunnels is using FaceTime and WhatsApp to obtain recipes and prepare the menu with his Turkish counterpart, and owner Adam Jones is still waiting for his Turkish friend and investor Orcan Yigit to obtain his Covid-delayed visa to join him.

But tomorrow (Aug. 19), the new place is scheduled to open initially Wednesday through Sunday for breakfast at 7 a.m.

Lunch and dinner service is expected to open in phases over the next four- to six weeks.

Clay & Fire occupying the little cottage at 815 W. 17th St. that’s become quite a greater downtown culinary destination in recent years, first as home of Novel and then Fox and Pearl.

Chef Brent Gunnels

As the name implies, many of the dishes, ranging from lands as far east as Afghanistan as well as Turkey, Armenia and others bordering the Black Sea, will be cooked using traditional  earthenware vessels as well as a wood-fired oven.

To start the day, Jones is promising “amazing” Near East coffee using a special bean blend from Broadway Roasting Co.

The breakfast menu includes Yumurta Cilbir, poached egg over yoghurt with paprika butter sauce, and Menemen, a Turkish egg scramble.

The restaurant also will have foods ideal for takeout although it can seat 45 with social distancing and 70 after the pandemic health restrictions are lifted.

“I have an organic food business and will be using all local, fresh and seasonal ingredients except for some dried items from the other side of the world like spices and peppers,” Jones said.

The rotisserie will roast chicken, lamb, goat and beef and provide Gunnels with the opportunity to serve special kabobs.

Salads include Tabouleh and Choban, and sides such as Turkish beans and Tabbouleh will be served.

Clay & Fire occupies the same little house at 815 W. 17th St. that was home to Novel and Fox and Pearl.

Gunnels had been running a pizza supper club called “Cult of Pi” on the West Side when Jones invited him to collaborate on Clay & Fire. He also was a chef at the now-defunct Freshwater restaurant.

Joining him will be Savannah Bennett, who will be the manager and bartender. Her previous stops had been at Taco Republic and Webster House. Clay & Fire anticipates receiving its liquor license in two- to three weeks.

Jones said the new place will feel “wonderful and eclectic” and he plans to ultimately have live music. Rodman Cruse is the operational manager.

When fully operational, Clay & Fire’s hours will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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