Moroccan-born Yassir Raouli studied at Georgia State before coming to New York to try to make it as an actor. He started cooking "by accident" and opened Bistro Truck in 2009, selling burgers and merguez sandwiches in the Union Square area. Less than a year later, the truck was a Vendy Award finalist, and Raouli was making plans to open a full-service restaurant. "I’ve always wanted to create more dishes," he says, describing his self-taught cooking style as rustic. Hence the anticipated Rustic L.E.S., his new, nineteen-seat brick-and-mortar restaurant, which stealth-opened over the weekend on Ridge Street for a neighborhood preview. The menu includes tripe stew with Moroccan spices, carrots with charmoula, a hearty chicken pastilla with quail eggs, fried sweetbreads with verjus, and a lamb burger to watch. Raouli says the custom blend took a week or so to nail; the burger is seared in an iron skillet, grilled, then served on brioche with melted Gruyère and duck bacon. "I challenge any chef out here to try it," he says, "and not say ‘this is one of the city’s top five burgers.’"
124 Ridge St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-677-6450