For being one of L.A.'s more anticipated restaurant openings of 2015, Madcapra has remained relatively quiet, posting only occasional photos on its official Instagram and hosting a single pop-up dinner, a sold-out, four-course feast that took over Animal on Fairfax last week.
That's mainly because its owners — Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, two notable young New York City chefs — have been busy as hell setting up their sandwich-and-salad falafel spot (which will be opening in Grand Central Market sometime in April), discovering the year-round farm bounty of Southern California and adjusting to life in a city across the country from the kitchens where they first earned acclaim.
“It was definitely not an easy decision to leave New York,” Kramer told L.A. Weekly. “I’m actually born and raised there, and Sarah and I both love the city and built strong professional communities there. And of course, New York is such a vibrant, rich place to live. Nonetheless, I think she and I both felt like it was time for a change, and L.A. was the obvious choice. The restaurant community here is really welcoming, the produce is unbeatable and, on the whole, it’s an exciting time in L.A.’s lifespan, which is exciting to be a small part of.”
The two Brooklyn chefs worked together most recently at Greenpoint's modern Mediterranean restaurant Glasserie, and they plan to bring a similar approach to Middle Eastern fare to L.A., a city with a huge population from that part of the world, but whose cuisine has not yet been ravaged by the modern touch. (Kramer's mother is Israeli and she grew up eating a lot of Middle Eastern food.)
If the recent pop-up at Animal was any indication of what's to come, Madcapra will be a place to get everything from tangy seafood salads to delicately layered vegetable dishes to the signature square — yes, square! — falafel.
“People can expect an updated and very fresh take on the falafel sandwich,” Kramer says of the Grand Central Market menu, “as well as sandwiches and salads filled with so many vegetables. They can expect lots of pickles. They should not expect pita bread.”
Unlike chefs from other cities who open restaurants in L.A. by proxy, Kramer and Hymanson both moved their lives out here last year in preparation not only for Madcapra but also a second Middle Eastern–inspired restaurant (in a location yet to be determined) based around shared plates.
In the process, the farm-to-table advocates have found a new muse in the region's native vegetable offerings, forging relationships with local fruit and vegetable producers and incorporating those flavors into their New York cooking style.
“The move to SoCal has been eye-opening, to say the least, as far as seasons and availability,” Kramer says. “The growing seasons are really amorphous here and allow for a more consistent menu. But there are exciting subtleties that we’re discovering within that, not to mention the access to mountains of avocados and citrus, as well as so many varieties of pluots — shocking as compared to what we had back east — as well as items we never would have seen, like cherimoya.”
Madcapra, 317 N. Broadway, downtown; madcapra.com
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