Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to University Place for a nearly carb-less meal.

THE VIBE
Mint Kitchen, which opened a few weeks ago on University Place but only just started serving dinner this past weekend, checks a lot on-trend boxes. It's a fast casual, counter-service spot at which you order from someone roaming around the front with a hand-held device, then find a seat. There are wooden tables and banquettes in the back, stools by the window up front, and a theatrical, stepped-pyramid structure for spillover. You'll get a text when your food is ready.

The menu is Middle Eastern, specifically Israeli, and skews low-carb and health-conscious. The plating is aggressively styled, seemingly ideal for Instagram, but the dozens of hanging Edison bulbs cast a yellowish pall over everything (get those LED lights out, influencers!). Plant life is plentiful here, and can usually be found within dramatically-lit boxes on the stylish wall units and room dividers. Large mounds of fruits and vegetables greet you at the entrance, and golden bottles of olive oil ring the pillar by the ordering area.

Mint is the project of three Israelis, including the well-regarded chef and baker Erez Komarovsky, and, in addition to simply wanting to encourage everyone to eat fresh, healthy food, there's a sense of social consciousness at work here too. You get a punchcard, for example, but instead of that tenth dish being free for you, Mint donates a meal to City Harvest. And 2% of the restaurant's annual net profit is distributed equally among the entire Mint team, a forward-thinking (albeit small) step toward collective ownership.

THE BITES
The Mint Kitchen menu isn't long—going very against trend, there's no "snacks" section, and barely any sides—but each dish has several things going on, so it feels pretty robust. More robust, in fact, than the actual plates of food. Take the Falafel-Crusted Salmon, for example. Everything on the tray looks attractive, and the modest slab of fish was cooked just exactly to doneness, and not longer (the fennel, though, needed a bit more time in the roaster). But without any bread or grains in sight, and just a few barely-dressed fava greens asked to do too much lifting, even at $16 it barely qualifies as a meal.

The Golden Cauliflower Salad, with an add-on of sesame-crusted Chicken Breast, will also leave you wanting more... though not of the chicken, which is among the driest pieces of bird I've been served in a restaurant. The sandy couscous only compounded the problem. Never have I longed for a crock of zhug with such fervor. Much more satisfying was the dish simply called Steak. The pre-sliced piece of beef—my guess is flank—needs salt, and it could be juicier, but the flavor's good, and you get a fair amount of it, and there are three potatoes that come with, each with blobs of tahini and a lively, turmeric-heavy amba.

The best dish I ate was the simple-sounding Jaffa Hummus. Loaded with garlic and olive oil,
dense with dal masabacha (whole-ish chick peas), and topped with a pile of hearty roasted mushrooms, it makes for an addictive share plate and should be a part of any order. Bodes well for the other "basic" meal on the menu, the Green Baked Falafel. And the thick, greasy Galilee pita was terrific, leaving me to wonder why they don't throw one of these (or, at least, a half a one of these) onto every plate.

THE VERDICT
They clearly spent a lot of time and energy on the restaurant's design, and the marketing, and the menu planning and sourcing. Now if the Mint Kitchen team can just give the food some zip (and some more calories), this could become a neighborhood go-to.

Mint Kitchen is located at 83 University Place, between East 11th and 12th Streets, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (646-905-3720; mintkitch.com)