This Place Israeli Good

Halva is a confection made of sweetened sesame seed paste formed into a flaky block and is most often found at the cashier counter of a Jewish deli next to the chocolate covered jelly rings. At Bavel, halva is combined with foie gras and dollops of date paste to create a dip that is one of the best and most unique things I’ve tasted in a long time.

The Baba Ghanoush at Bavel is made not only with the traditional smoked eggplant, but also red walnuts and lemon chili salt. The Roasted Cauliflower is served with a green hawaij chile sauce and crème fraiche serrano dip with pistachios & edible dried flowers. In other words, this is not your mother’s Israeli restaurant (or, in my case, my mother-in-law’s Israeli restaurant since my wife’s parents are actually from Israel).

This is expertly executed Israeli fusion, presented for your enjoyment in a converted warehouse in the Downtown Arts District. It’s a buzzing hipster foodie scene with tasty craft cocktails and an open kitchen presided over by the talented couple that brought you Bestia a few block away. It’s well worth the shekels!

Bavel is located at 500 Mateo St, Los Angeles (Downtown in the Arts District).

Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf

Baba Ghanoush with Smoked Eggplant Burnt Bell Pepper, Red Walnuts, Lemon Chili Salt and Fried Pita

Scallop Crudo with Pomegranate Molasses, Citrus, Burnt Serrano Chile Oil, Charred Cucumber, Mint and Black Sesame

Cucumber & Strawberry with Feta, Purslane, Tarragon, Citrus Vinaigrette and Nigella Seeds

Buttermilk Fried Quail with Cardamom Date Sauce, Pickled Celery, Smoked Yogurt and Herbs

Roasted Cauliflower with Hawaij Chile Sauce, Crème Fraiche Serrano Dip, Pistachios and Dried Flowers

Malawach with Ancient Grain Crispy Layered Bread, Grated Tomato, Dill Crème Fraiche, Aged Egg and Strawberry Zhoug

Grilled Lamb Saddle Chop with Licorice, Lime, Honey, Borage Vinaigrette, Green Almonds and Herb Salad

Wagyu Beef Cheek Tagine with Braised Cheeks, Chiles, Preserved Lemon, Turnips, Green Garbanzo and Couscous

Laffa Bread

Strawberry Sumac & Sweet Cheese Pastry

Vanilla Date Crème Brûlée with Soft Candied Orange Peel Shortbread

Rose Clove Chocolate Donuts with Bar au Chocolat Ganache and Sherry Diplomat Cream

Licorice Root Ice Cream Bonbon with Sour Licorice Caramel, Muscovado Cake, Caramelized White Chocolate and Maldon Salt

In the Downtown Arts District

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Something to Talk About

Hidden behind a door marked only with the letter “K” on the second level of the Third Street Promenade food court, an exciting adventure is being had by foodies. One of Chicago’s top chefs, Dave Beran, has relocated to LA and opened an intimate restaurant that serves only a tasting menu of approximately 18 course of New American cuisine with French and Japanese influences. The menu completely changes every three months with only a single dish linking each quarterly menu to the next.

The experience each night is akin to storytelling as Beran weaves an epic culinary tale that progresses through the seasons of the year with many surprises along the way. The attention to detail at Dialogue is staggering and while not every dish is a standout, many are excellent and all are interesting and thoughtful. This is a meal best appreciated by thinking about it as a whole rather than focusing too much on any of its many small parts.

You will need to purchase a ticket for this adventure rather than secure a traditional reservation. Gastronomic excellence of this nature never comes cheap and this experience will cost you between $175 and $200 plus tax (all service charges are included in the ticket price), but not including optional wine pairing for an additional $125-175 plus tax. Although there are a few tables in the restaurant, my recommendation is to go with just one other person and sit at the bar where you can converse with Beran as he and his staff compose each dish right in front of you. This kind of experience makes it well worth the splurge.

Dialogue is located at 1315 Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Oyster Leaf with Lychee Mignonette

Spring Lamb, Green Blueberry, Nasfurtium

Frosted Geranium Leaf

Hamachi in Monochrome

Perilla, Fermented Cauliflower, Comma Song

Earl Grey, Pine Nut, Rose

Strawberry Sphere

Golden Osetra Caviar, Leek Fondue, Smoke

Sea Kelp, braised and fried

Sour Cherry Surprise

Fermented Black Bean, Watermelon Radish, Cocoa Nib

Spot Prawn, Long Bean, Chocolate Mint

Sun Gold Tomato and Pork Belly

Thirty Day Dry-aged Ribeye and Charred Watermelon

Foie Gras Acorn and Barrel-aged Quine Soda

Parsnip-Chai Pie

Chestnut, Malt, Honeycrisp

Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich

Located in a secret room…

…in the Third Street Promenade food court.

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Melrose Place

While looks aren’t everything, when it comes to food, it’s certainly true that we eat with our eyes first. Great chefs know this and no chef in Los Angeles is more talented in composing visually stunning plates than Kevin Meehan. At Kali, Meehan expertly arranges colorful edible flowers, delicate dehydrated lemon slices and wispy pea tendrils to create beautiful works of art.

Besides looking amazing, the seasonal California cuisine and drinks at Kali taste pretty awesome too. I recommend starting your meal with a “New Pad Thai” cocktail made with Green Chili Vodka, Aqua Perfect, Lime and Coconut Ice, and garnished with bean sprouts and a thin slice of carrot. Enjoy your cocktail with an order of Kali’s signature Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Garlic Tea and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp. For entrees, I recommend the Ribeye with Buttermilk Garlic Cream, Charred Onion, Potato, Mushrooms and Ash Sabayon, and the Duck Breast with Smoked Sunchoke, Sage, Squash and Coffee. For dessert, go for the hot sugary Buttermilk Doughnuts. You’re welcome.

Kali is located at 5722 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles (on the border between Hollywood and Larchmont).

Cocktails! New Pad Thai (St. George Green Chili Vodka, Aqua Perfecta, Lime and Coconut Ice) and On_the_DL (Vida Mezcal, Blood Orange, Salt & Pepper, Lime and Jalapeño)

Ridgeback Prawns with Citrus, Nasturtium, Pickled Kumquat, Chive Oil and Preserved Lemon Foam

Yellowtail Crudo with Charcoal, Avocado, Rice Chips, Nasturium and Charred Lemon

Beet Root Tartare with Whipped Creme Fraiche, Tender Garden Herbs, Black Garlic Vinagrette and Toast

Burrata Salad with Dill Pickled Carrots, Almond Granola, Mustard Frills and Whole Grain Toast

Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp

Agnolotti with Smoked Parsnip, Egg Yolk Pasta, Fermented Turnips, Burnt Kale Oil and Almonds

Duck Breast from Liberty Farms with Smoked Sunchoke, Sage, Squash and Coffee

Black Cod with English Peas, Mint Oil, White Chocolate, Almond and Pea Tendrils

Ribeye with Buttermilk Garlic Cream, Charred Onion, Potato, Mushrooms, Ash Sabayon

Pork Loin with Tahitian Squash, Potato Gnocci, Raisin Gremolata and Swiss Chard

Duck Breast with Whipped Polenta, Fermented Blackberry, Fava, Coffee Oil and Kombucha

Bass with Preserved Lemon Steam, Tomato Raisins, Fermented Fennel-Kraut, Garden Herbs and Olive Foam

Buttermilk Doughnuts

Cool, modern and minimalist decor

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Filed under Hollywood, Larchmont, Mid-City

Haiku Review

Shibumi is a Japanese word which refers to an aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. The LA restaurant Shibumi more than lives up to its name. Hidden away behind a signless facade and located on the ground floor of a parking structure in Downtown LA, the dimly lit restaurant has a cool minimalist vibe.

The food is modern Japanese and it’s across-the-board excellent; small plates of understated elegance featuring highly nuanced and subtle flavors. To describe my three favorite dishes at Shibumi, I’m going to employ another Japanese creation that also features simplicity and understated grace: the Haiku.

White Miso Almonds
Creamy, crunchy perfection
My new obsession

Hello yummy pork
Perfectly seasoned and grilled
Get in my belly

Sakura Mochi
Cherry leaf-wrapped sweet rice treat
Best happy ending

Shibumi is located at 815 S. Hill St., Los Angeles (Downtown). My book of food haikus will be published later this year.

Lotus, Sweet Potato and Young Burdock Chips

Steamed Rice Bread stuffed with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

Rice Balls with Cherry Blossom and Green Peas

Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek

Holstein Beef Strip, Fresh Wasabi and Nara-zuke Pickle

Japanese Chizu-keki (Cheesecake) and Pear

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Mochi

Hidden away at the bottom of a parking structure in Dowtown

Dimly lit with a cool minimalist vibe

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The Room Where it Happens

Thomas Jefferson is experiencing a pop culture renaissance these days. As the preening, scheming villain of the hip-hop musical Hamilton, Jefferson is portrayed in a surprisingly less-than-flattering way. But I was equally surprised recently to see homage paid to Jefferson at Felix, one of the hottest new restaurants in LA, where a portrait of our third President hangs on the wall of its temperature-controlled “Pasta Lab” and the kind of pasta machine used by Jefferson sits on display.

Jefferson apparently was a master gourmand and a huge fan of pasta just like Felix’s talented chef, Evan Funke. But while Jefferson preferred Macaroni and Cheese, Funke wows patrons with Pappardelle Bolognese, Rigatoni All’ Amatriciana and Gnocchetti with Oxtail Ragu. All are handmade and exceptional.

Although the pastas are the standouts at this Abbot Kinney Italian Trattoria, the anti-pasti (appitizers), pizzas and meat dishes are also excellent. I especially love the spicy Diavola Pizza with Pomodoro Sauce, Smoked Fior di Latte Cheese and Salame Napoletano. For dessert, I strongly suggest you order the super moist Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema, or you may find yourself asking “What did I miss?”

Felix is located at 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles (in Venice).

Ricotta con la Vignarola

Misticanza Salad with Lettuce, Radish and Herbs

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano

Sottadita D’Agnello (Lamb Chop) with Peas and Herbs

Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema

The Pasta Lab

The Dining Room


Filed under Venice