Looks: We don't usually tout looks as the most important aspect of a restaurant, but at Acabar it's all about the ambiance. The place is stunning, having retained much of Dar Maghreb's over-the-top “Moroccan palace” design, but also making it sleeker and sexier. The walls are covered in mosaic tile, the ceiling in painted designs; the wood and plasterwork is intricate, florid, and kind of breathtaking. Of course, it's all a little silly, but it's a very fun kind of silly.
Food: The chef is Octavio Becerra, who for years owned and operated Palate Food & Wine in Glendale. Hired by Acabar's owners — director Roland Emmerich and a host of other boldface names — Becerra is presenting an ode to the spice trail, and the flow of flavor and inspiration that traveled that route from the Middle East to Asia to Europe and back again, loosely organized around cuisines that have been touched by France in some way. So all kinds of international cuisines are represented, presented as flashy and mainly successful small plates. There's also a selection of “large format” dishes that feed more than one, and cost as much as $86.
Drinks: Created by Josh Goldman and Julian Cox of the Soigné Group, Acabar's cocktail list traces the history of mixed drinks, from “archaic” punches from the 1700s through modern recipes created by star bartenders from around the world. It's not the first time a drinks list has been crafted around a historical timeline, but that doesn't make it any less fun to drink your way through history, from Acabar's Sazerac, on to a high-class version of a zombie complete with flaming lime, to a deliciously tart and cooling Chartreuse swizzle.
Service: Your server is likely to be very charming, very handsome, very French and, quite often, very absent. He will swoosh in and take your order, and then be nowhere to be found once you need a second drink or your check; when he does reappear, it will be in the tone of “here I am, so French, so handsome, aren't you lucky to have me?”
Takeaway: 2 stars (good). Acabar's menu is as fun to explore as it is uneven, and the over-the-top setting is a fabulously good time.
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