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.
5. Akasha hosts celebrants both nights of Pesach, starting things off with passed appetizers of classic and veggie chopped liver on matzo crostini during the 5:30 arrival time. For the Seder at 6 p.m., Chef Richmond will prepare hard cooked organic eggs; Sephardic style fish balls with tomato-shallot sauce; escarole and radish salad; and matzo ball soup (chicken or veg). Main courses choices are red wine braised brisket with Weiser Family Farms carrots; or matzo-crusted chicken picatta with lemon and parsley Yukon Golds, leek fritters, braised baby artichokes; or matzo eggplant Parmesan. Sides of potato pancakes and Coleman Farms broccoli make an appearance as well. Pistachio tortes with citrus curd, candied kumquats, almond and coconut macaroons, dark chocolate cookies, and market berry compote round things out. This “kosher style” meal is $75 per person including wine and hot beverages, $45 for children under 12 (including grape juice), plus tax and 20% gratuity. And kosher for Passover cocktails, if you wish. Take-out or in-home catering are also available. Akasha: 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 845-1700.
4. Also in the take-out category are the prepped Passover offerings from Suzanne Goin's Larder at Tavern in Brentwood. Available for pick-up (credit card required for order) are marinated olives, Marcona almonds, smoked fish platter with matzo, braised brisket with salsa verde, herb roasted chicken, slow roasted salmon with cucumber yogurt, roasted Yukon potatoes with rosemary, braised red cabbage, roasted root vegetables, beets with horseradish gremolata, grilled asparagus with pistachio aillade, French macarons, and apple and huckleberry. Orders must be placed at least 48 hours in advance. Tavern: 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 806-6464.
3. Suzanne Tracht revisits Jar's established Passover menu on both nights this year. The formally led Seders features an English pea purée; chopped liver; cured salmon with crisp potato pancake; matzo ball soup; asparagus and radish salad with hard cooked egg and lemon mustard vinaigrette; a choice of pot roast or Alaskan halibut; and assorted macaroons, chocolate eminence and lemon cheesecake for dessert. Passover at Jar is $125 per adult, $55 for kids 12 and under, and includes tax, gratuity, house wine and coffee or tea. Jar: 8225 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 655-6566.
2. La Cachette is organizing Passover dinner on Tuesday night, and the regular restaurant menu will still be available. Service of the $48 menu (plus tax, beverage and gratuity) starts at 6 p.m. It includes chicken soup with matzo balls and organic vegetables; gefilte fish with pike and house cured salmon; roasted leg of lamb with flageolet beans and jus; and sorbets and macaroons. La Cachette: 1733 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica; (310) 434-9509.
1. Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff collaborate again for their 27th annual Passover Seder at Spago on Tuesday, April 19. This benefit for Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger costs $175 for adults and $80 for children 9 and under. Spago: 176 N. Cañon Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 385-0880.