Dining With Denise Neil

New Mediterranean restaurant will offer cushion-y dining experience

Petra Mediterranean Restaurant should be open by late January or early February near 21st and Woodlawn.
Petra Mediterranean Restaurant should be open by late January or early February near 21st and Woodlawn. The Wichita Eagle

In some restaurants in Middle Eastern countries, it’s customary to sit on cushions to dine.

Soon, Wichitans will get to see what that’s like.

Rania Taha and Bashar Mahanweh, who in September bought Byblos at 3088 W. 13th St. from founder and longtime owner Ilham Saad, are opening a new Mediterranean restaurant in the former Passage to India space at 6140 E. 21st St., near 21st and Woodlawn.

They plan to call it Petra Mediterranean Restaurant, and they’ll serve Mediterranean and Arabic dishes, some of which are familiar to Wichita already and some of which are new. The restaurant will offer a mix of seating, including tables and chairs and some traditional cushion seating, Taha said. Her husband is ordering custom cushions from Turkey, she said.

Those who dined at the previous Passage to India before it moved across the strip center to its current spot at 6100 E. 21st St. N. remember that it had two spaces: A smaller side that included the cash register and bar and a larger side the held the dining room and buffet. The new owners plan to use the two spaces differently.

The smaller space will include a bakery, where customers can get quick-service items like cheese pies, meat pies and homemade desserts like baklava, she said. That side will also offer fresh Mediterranean juice.

The larger space will be used for Petra’s dining room and will include a buffet. Dishes served will be similar to the Lebanese-inspired offerings at Byblos but will include some other Jordanian dishes, including mansaf, a traditional lamb dish.

The couple is now cleaning and remodeling the space but hope to be open by late January or early February. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, they want to say “thank you” to Wichita by offering a portion of its sales at Byblos between now and Jan. 1 to a homeless organization.