Los Angeles chefs and restaurants approach Passover with respect for tradition, while applying their own unconventional and unexpected touches. There will be plenty of matzo ball soup. And then there will be Thai-style gefilte fish, macaroons and macarons. Most of the following holiday options on April 18 and 19th, however, aren't the strictest of kosher meals. But they're guaranteed to be pretty good, and will save you a ton of prep stress and clean up from what's one of the more dish-and-utensil-intensive ritual holiday meals. If you do plan to entertain at home, check back later for a Passover cocktail recipe from Rosa Mexicano. Turn the page for our list (in no particular order) of 8 Ways to Celebrate Pesach in a Restaurant.
8. Susan Feniger's plans for Tuesday the 19th (i.e. the second night of Passover) at Street are as characteristically eclectic and wide-ranging of the restaurant as they are of the Jewish diaspora itself. "One of the reasons Passover is one of my favorite holidays is because ritual, food and stories about a peoples' history are ceremoniously shared," Feniger explains. Inspiration comes "from Jewish quarters of the world where people gather around tables to eat great food [and] tell amazing stories." The $45 per person menu includes Sephardic long cooked egg mashed with feta, olive oil, and avocado served with chicken liver pate and za'atar matzo croutons; matzo ball soup; parsley leaf salad with spring lettuce, baby beets and wasabi horseradish vinaigrette; Thai-style gefilte fish with lemongrass curry, coconut and topped with fried onion; braised chicken with tamarind, apricot, and chipotle; stuffed cabbage with rice, chickpeas, and ground lamb (or vegetarian); coconut macaroons and matzo candy. And next, recline. Street: 742 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; (323) 203-0500.
7. Rosa Mexicano offers a welcome (and somewhat obvious) cultural crossover celebration for its Mexican Passover, which will be ongoing at the restaurant the week of April 18 through the 25th. Shared apps include escabeche judeo of pickled cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, and jalapeño; and zhug, a spicy salsa made with cilantro, garlic and jalapeno. Other dishes are priced a la carte rather than as a prix fixe: flautas de res (corned beef tacos); shaved jicama with pickled herring and frisee salad; tacos with beef tongue, spicy green salsa and hard boiled egg; salmon-stuffed cabbage veracruzana; banana leaf-wrapped barbecued beef brisket; tropical haroset; savory noodle kugel; sweet baby carrots glazed with agave nectar, butter, chile de árbol and epazote. And it's not over yet. There's hazelnut matzoh cake containing Manischewitz blackberry wine-poached pears, topped with piloncillo crème fraîche frosting, plus blackberry sauce and candied hazelnuts to finish. Rosa Mexicano: 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Downtown; (213) 746-0001.
6. After many years of hosting Passover dinners at Angeli Caffe, Evan Kleiman is doing things a little differently this time around. This family-style celebratory dinner, sans any overtly ceremonial or religious component, takes place on Thursday, April 21 with two seatings at 5 and 7:30. That's still during the period of Pesach, but a couple days after the first two nights of Seder, fortunately removing chances of dinner invite conflicts. Kleiman's menu has become a tradition in its own right: long cooked eggs tinted with onion skins; haroset; hummus with ground lamb and pine nuts; leek croquettes; Venetian pesce in carpione (sautéed white fish in caramelized onion-mustard vinaigrette); Evan's Pot Roast; pollo arrosto; tortino di Azzime AKA vegetable "mazzagna"; quinoa or spelt "salad" with spring veggies; and a TBD dessert. All this for $45 per person, exclusive of alcohol, tax and gratuity. Angeli Caffe: 7274 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 936-9086.