What's a Loomi?
A food truck comes indoors at Kerrytown.
From the July, 2019 issue
"It's actually a dry preservation style for lemons and limes" says Andrew Stevick, explaining the name of his Loomi Cafe. In the former Kosmo's lunch counter inside the Kerrytown Market & Shops, Stevick is serving up what he calls "a mix of Middle Eastern, South American, Turkish, Indian" food.
A Pioneer grad with a BA in food science and product development from Johnson & Wales University, Stevick combines knowledge with a "DIY" approach. Loomi-preserved fruit, he says, has "this really nice deep, oily skin, but then, like, the inside is still super-tart and petrified. It almost has a tamarind-y like sweetness and a molasses-ness." He uses it in a specialty tea, rice, and in handmade spice rods.
"I've been building stuff and designing and just figuring out stuff my whole life," Stevick says. His mother, Grace, is from Palestine, and he says he learned a lot from her and a lot from his own experiments.
Loomi began in 2018 as a food cart at the Farmers Market, where Stevick served up classic street food, like lamb skewers over naan-style bread, with unusual garnishes like pickled watermelon. Cooked in a clay tandoori oven that Stevick made himself, it was a hit among market-goers. "I really liked my oven," he says. "I'm going to try to get it out here"--he gestures out the window at Kerrytown's south parking lot--"on Saturdays."
Stevick remembers trips to Kosmo's and the Farmers Market with his mother and is thrilled to have a permanent home in the area. "My mom's famous in the market as that old Arab lady who kind of negotiates prices right at the end as the farmers are leaving," he laughs.
Loomi's menu is comprised of several hanging blackboards, each divided into smaller sections that show options for meats, breads, small plates, and drinks. Stevick rewrites them daily, depending on his whims and the ingredients on hand. Customers choose a meat or veggie and a grain--which, in addition to
basic rice and potatoes, may include house-made Indian roti, bread made from Mexican masa flour, or French patisserie.
Stevick leaves room on the menu for a "version one" and "version two" of his daily chicken, beef, pork, veggie, seafood, and game dishes. When we talked to him, the meat dish of the day was lamb sausages with tomato, and the veggie plate was "cauliflower and Chicago cheese with salsa verde."
Stevick designed and built Loomi's new open diner-style counter himself. He points at the swiveling diner chairs: "someone quoted me like $250 to do the upholstery on them, and I said, 'see you later.' So I bought 150 bucks in materials and upholstered them myself." He's proud that he found the same-style tables that sit at Zola Bistro and Miss Kim for $13 each on eBay.
His thrifty approach had a purpose: "If I started this on a very comically low budget ... I can make the food whatever I want it to be." He's counting on that to let him "stay true to my vision."
Loomi Cafe, 407 N. Fifth (Kerrytown Market & Shops). (734) 929-2945. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. facebook.com
[Originally published in July, 2019.]
On July 9, 2019, Tom Stulberg wrote:
The food is excellent! You must go.
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