Open Sesame, a small chain of Lebanese restaurants with two locations in Long Beach, has opened an L.A. location in the Beverly Boulevard building that until March of this year housed Mark Gold's Eva. We stopped by for lunch to check out the new tenant.
The sleek modernism of Eva has been replaced with standard Mediterranean decor -- tile floors, red walls, wooden cafe tables and chairs. There are outside tables that have a nice view of the street, including one large booth that takes up the entire western end of the patio.
The menu offers all the usual dishes -- hummus, baba ghannouj, shawarma, falafel -- along with some more creative items. There are Lebanese pizzas, as well as a couple of paninis. An appetizer of fried cauliflower with a tahini dipping sauce is good, oily fun, and the seared halloumi is served between slabs of watermelon. It's a pleasant presentation that distracts from the fact that the halloumi itself isn't particularly crispy or alluring.
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Shawarma, falafel and kabobs come in sandwich or platter form. Buying a platter almost doubles the price, which seems not worth it. But the sandwich turns out to be quite small and unlikely to satisfy a hearty appetite. The soft falafel makes a nice pita sandwich though, served with tomato, parsley, pickles, lettuce and tahini. Chicken and beef shawarma are both imbued with cumin and cinnamon. The chicken was the more tender and juicy of the two.
On first impression, there's not that much that's remarkable about Open Sesame. But if valet parking for a shawarma sandwich and a side of hummus is your thing, it has you covered.
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