There should be a show like Moving Up for restaurants, where the former tenants of a space get a peek at what the new tenants have done, and comment on it. Mezze would be at the top of our list for screen time.
The new Mediterranean restaurant, slated to open next month in the former Sona space, looks and feels nothing like its predecessor. It's amazing what a little paint and a skylight can do, and we can't help but wonder what David Myers will think.
When you walk into Mezze, you immediately notice the flow: The rock that centered the Sona dining room is gone; a new skylight adds height and natural light; walls were taken down to create an open kitchen with a counter so you can see all the action; and the bar now flows right into the dining room.
It's a whole new space, more Mediterranean-villa than muted-minimalist, with amber-hued walls, reclaimed wood floors and Moroccan tiles throughout. And an appropriate setting for chef Micah Wexler's menu, which will feature contemporary takes on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean classics.
The seasons will dictate much of it, but think: veal manti (Turkish veal-stuffed pasta) with almond milk and black lime; yellowtail crudo with pomegranate gremolata; flatbreads with house-made merguez and tomato jam; and wood-fired poussin with zatar. There will be a slew of wines from Israel, Morocco and Lebanon — plus ones from California — to match.
Everything will be shared small plates, but don't expect baba ghanoush and hummus. “I'm trying to take some of these traditions, these flavors and spices, and combine them with local product,” says Wexler. “I'll be foraging with local farms, so you'll see things you're familiar with, but with a twist.”
Wexler, who's worked at Craft and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, partnered with Michael Kassar (Spago) and David Koral and Matt Bendik. Three out of the four restaurant and nightlife vets are Cornell alums; they've been talking about doing this for years.
“You have the mega restaurants on one side of La Cienega, and the trendy, paparazzi places on the other,” says Wexler. “But then you hit this micro neighborhood right here, a two block stretch with a cool, hip vibe. That's our concept: neighborhood, unique, casual but cool.”