So many delicious-sounding places in the Upper West Side, so little time!

On this 70-degree Christmas Eve, we explored the UWS to get some fresh air, exercise, and warmth before any potential winter weather in our future.  After a bit of Yelping, we found Bustan, a Mediterranean restaurant with some awesome signature dishes.  Bustan was a great find, and we left so full we were bustan a gut!  (Forgive me, everything I could think of to write about this restaurant is a pun)

We got a few dippables and a lamb entree to share.  Though our waiter was the most nonchalant person I'd ever encountered, I appreciated his honesty when he told us 5 dips would be too much for two people to eat.  We narrowed it down to: tzatziki, taromasalata, and spicy feta (nixed the hummus and roasted eggplant).  The schmears came on a three-welled plate, each a huge mound from an ice cream scooper.  The true highlight of the appetizer, however, was the bread that accompanied: the executive chef himself refreshed each table's bread, a long flatbread/foccaccia with rosemary, sea salt, and olive oil.  The bread was extremely flavorful and heavenly on its own, but each dip imparted a little different flair to each bite of bread.  The taromasalata was fishy and salty, the tzatziki was a fresh, zippy palate cleanser, and the spicy feta was...spicy.  I was tempted to keep eating more and more bread, but needed to save space for our outrageous entree.

The lamb terracotta consists of roasted vegetables (tomatoes, onions, peppers), pine nuts, and ground lamb sausages...in a terracotta pot, covered with bread, and baked.  They carve up the bread top table-side, so the aromatic steam rises up and fogs up your glasses.  At this point, I was nearly stuffed from the bread and dips, so I didn't have much of the vegetables, but the lamb was amazing.  Each little sausage was loosely packed and a little pink in the center, but I think the cooking method of having it steamed with juicy vegetables in a bready bowl left each sausage wonderfully juicy and tender.