Portland Press Herald restaurant review by Andrew Ross.

Excerpt: “Let’s start with bread. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the bread they serve, or even if they do. At a place like TIQA, where all bread is made in-house, it’s even more revealing, because what ends up in your bread basket is the evidence of purposeful choices the kitchen has made – decisions that started with flour and water.

TIQA’s za’atar is Byrne’s own blend, one that incorporates an abundance of white sesame seeds for extra crunch. Fair game, since za’atar, like many great spice blends, varies from place to place and cook to cook. His is simple, with oregano, sumac, white sesame, salt and pepper. You might miss the thyme or hyssop a bit, but there is an unfussy linearity to Byrne’s za’atar that he uses to draw violent slashes across deep, meaty flavors and to underline floral, herbal fragrances in vegetables.

If you scarf down all the flavorful focaccia before you have a chance to see how the spices work with other dishes, don’t worry: On the bread plate, you’ll find a small bowl of extra za’atar that you can save for later.” Read the review