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Middle Eastern Fare Gets a California Twist at Kismet in Los Feliz


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One of Kismet's chefs, Sara Kramer, made a name for herself and met Kismet's other chef, Sarah Hymanson. The two moved to Los Angeles in 2014, and in 2015 opened Madcapra at Grand Central Market, where they serve brightly flavored falafel sandwiches on grilled-to-order bread. For Kismet, which debuted in January in the former Mother Dough space on Hollywood Boulevard, the pair partnered with Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, chefs who now run a small empire of L.A. restaurants. Kismet marks Dotolo and Shook's first foray into pure restaurateur territory. The narrow room has a minimalist elegance, with light wood banquettes lining the walls, which are paneled with more blond wood, also the material used for the tables and chairs. There's a clean, naturalistic, monochromatic feel to the place, and the design firm responsible, Guga, just nabbed a James Beard Award nomination for its efforts here. Kramer and Hymanson are trying to do a lot with the food at Kismet. In fact, it's almost as if they've set out to create a whole new kind of dining: part Middle Eastern, part Californian; food that works as well at 10 a.m. as it does at dinnertime; food that feels effortless but actually has a ton of effort put into every little detail, from the look of the plates to the vernacular on the menu (dishes are “salad-y,” sauces are “pickley”). There is a separate daytime and dinner menu, though they have a lot of crossover. At any time, for instance, you can order lemony chicken and pine nut pies, made with shattery phyllo, or roasted radicchio with beets and tahini, an utterly gorgeous, jewel-toned dish that pushes the boundaries of how much bitterness is acceptable on one small plate.