- March 26, 2023
The alluring aroma that drifts onto Palm Avenue is coming from the newly opened restaurant nestled in the ground floor of the Art Ovation Hotel, Tzeva. Now open a month, Tzeva lures those who want to travel with their taste buds.
With Executive Chef Ken Shiro Lumpkin leading the kitchen, the menu reflects his culinary journey. Lumpkin comes from Oakland, California and has worked in Jamaica, Japan, Memphis, New Orleans and Dallas.
“When you say Mediterranean, you are going to think about Greece, France and Italy. I want to go into a different style of cooking, explore those spices.” said Lumpkin.
Lumpkin comes from a Japanese background, and formal dining was something he was unfamiliar with.
“Mediterranean style was very similar to how I ate as a child growing up in a Japanese household. It’s really family oriented. It’s a lot of sharing and a lot of different dishes. I’m trying not to be so formal.”
Finding joy in the amusing times where he shared meals with multicultural friends, he aims to share that experience with Sarasota. “Those were fun times for me. Personally, going to friends' houses, there will be a bunch of plates and dishes and styles. That’s how I geared this restaurant.”
Lumpkin encourages diners to order something for themselves and something for the table. The Grouper Chairme is North African inspired with spicy tomato vegetable stew with couscous and cilantro. Israeli influences can be tasted with the falafel that features chickpea fritters paired pickled watermelon rinds, tzatziki and smoked chutney. Japan comes through with the lamb loin shashlik kebab that has yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment made with fermented chiles and yuzu fruit.
Beverage and Entertainment Director Nick Purdue takes inspiration from the experimental menu. “We are elevating without complicating,” he said. “We want people to say, ‘Hey, this is very straightforward. This is exciting. This is new, but it’s not pretentious or complicated.”
One of Purdue’s most popular drinks is Sacred Corner, made with reposado tequila that’s been infused with palo santo wood then paired with lime and fresh passionfruit.
“We did a good job with having stuff that’s familiar and allowing people to experience new things at the same time,” Lumpkin said.
Added Purdue: “I think there’s a difference between dining and going out to eat. I think we are landing the dining part. It’s an experience.”