Sina Soumekhian’s newest venture offers a unique take on kosher barbecue. In addition to offering traditional fare like hamburgers and ribs, Blue Star Kosher emphasizes brisket, a cut of meat at the center of Texan barbecue. And it is offering itself as a place for communal gathering, study and prayer.
Soumekhian, who also owns Eli’s Kosher Delicatessen in Foggy Bottom and is the former owner of Siena’s Pizzeria, said he has mulled over the idea of a kosher barbecue restaurant for 10 years. Customers have been trying out the new restaurant, which opened last month, and the prices are pretty darn good, especially considering the size of the portions.
Almost all of the food Soumekhian’s staff serves is made in-house, including their sauces. But this isn’t the type of joint where the signature dish comes smothered in barbecue sauce; instead, Blue Star is following market trends by emphasizing the flavor of the meat itself rather than drowning it out with sauce, says Soumekhian. A sauce bar on the front counter does give diners the choice between hot sauce, Kansas, Carolina or Texas sauce — all Blue Star original recipes. Many of the dishes allow customers to try every option.
Of his restaurant’s choice of brisket, Soumekhian said that most people think of other cuts when they think of barbecue.
“What we’re trying to do is make brisket more prominent,” Soumekhian said. “Brisket can be a very, very tasty meat [when prepared and served] in different ways.”
Blue Star, which opened last month, is experiencing no shortage of business.
“The minute we opened,” Soumekhian said, “we were overrun.”
The restaurant is already offering and planning to offer a variety of special features. One is a large community study table in the back of the dining area, which groups will be able to reserve in order to conduct communal learning sessions.
Another is what will be called “a wing and a prayer,” which Soumekhian said will offer discounted chicken wings to those who pray during the daily afternoon and evening services.
In addition, all of Blue Star’s corn bread and desserts come from the kosher
Sunflower Bakery, which offers employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The menu offers an eclectic variety of options. You can try the BBQ Burger for $12.99, complete with brisket on top; “Old Glory,” a barbecue chicken sandwich ($10.99); Adam’s Ribs ($26.99); the Blue Star Tacos ($14.99) and many more dishes.
According to Soumekhian, the restuarant’s most popular dishes are the Texas Toast ($12.99), described as “pulled slow-cooked BBQ brisket on thick Texas Toast” and the Texas Hold’em ($16.99), a delicious and filling dish that features six sliders — two pulled BBQ brisket sliders; two mini burgers; and two longhorn sliced beef sliders — along with sweet potato fries. There are several appetizers available, including two flavors of chicken wings ($7.99). A Texas Hold’em and an order of wings will fill you up enough that you might not need to eat for another three days.
Blue Star Kosher is located at 11417 Woodglen Dr., North Bethesda, MD, 20852. Their website is www.bluestarkosher.com.