Food: Middle Eastern-influenced New American, with a focus on small plates, but also a few fantastic entrees and a selection of flatbreads. From the review: “The flavors of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Morocco guide his efforts, but, like most great New American cooking, there's a playfulness and fluidity here that keeps the food from being staunchly defined as traditional in any way. In other words, you won't find hummus on the menu. … Couscous is topped with sea urchin — a combination that shouldn't work, but does, the sexed-up saline funk of the urchin playing beautifully with the lemon and mint in the couscous.”
Drinks: Cocktails have a serious culinary bent, which makes sense seeing as sous chef Jonathan Whitener oversees the cocktail program. The wine selection is fairly limited, but complements the food well. From the review: “I'm grateful for a wine program that takes Lebanon and Israel seriously, and it's those wines on the list that make for the best pairings. I especially loved a 2010 Musar rosé from Lebanon, the nose with the faintest hint of rubber, the finish like sherry.”
Looks: A wide open room with mustard walls, a glassed in kitchen at the back and glass doors that open onto the street in front. From the review: “The décor is the only part of this restaurant that seems to be trying too hard to fit into its Middle Eastern theme, and this stretch of La Cienega, across the street from a trashy lingerie store and next to an ugly construction zone, is a particularly unfortunate location for a restaurant with glass doors that open all along one side of the room onto the street.”
Price: Small plates are reasonably priced, at around $9-$14 each. That can add up quickly, but this is rich food — you don't need much to fill up. Entrees are pricy (in the $30-$45 range) but easily big enough to share. Not a bargain hunter's dinner, but hardly outrageous.
Takeaway: Chef Micah Wexler has tapped into a well of inspiration — the flavors of the Middle East — that is too often ignored by New American chefs. The result is food that's soulful and incredibly well-executed.
You can read the whole review here.
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