Kismet Rotisserie pick up and enjoy at home

L.A. chefs and restaurateurs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson are no strangers to creating new concepts. The dynamic duo behind Kismet, the popular Middle Eastern bistro specializing in housemade labneh, mezze and natural wines, launched their more casual eatery, Kismet Rotisserie, earlier this year. In the face of the challenges of 2020, the team has utilized their creativity and tenacity to conceptualize new ways to enjoy Kismet’s cuisine from home. Kismet in Yiddish means fate and destiny, and fortunately, these two eateries on Hollywood Boulevard near Vermont Avenue remain open.

When Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that restaurants must close their indoor dining due to spikes in the coronavirus, Kramer and Hymanson offered online ordering, pickup and delivery for both Kismet and Kismet Rotisserie.

The chefs connected with Frontline Foods and made meals to support frontline workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. To keep their relationships with their suppliers, they soon started selling produce boxes and other goods from various local farmers at Kismet.

At Kismet Rotisserie, they continue to offer some of the best free-range Sonoma slow-cooked, antibiotic-free chicken paired with hummus, brightly colored salads, pita sandwiches and vegetable sides.

To support the chefs, I recently ordered online and used the contactless pay option before driving to pick up lunch. Stopping along the curb in front, I called to announce my arrival, and within minutes, a staff member wearing a mask and gloves walked out and handed me my order while I sat in my car.

In this golden age of takeout, a restaurant’s to-go presentation can be the factor that makes the meal a cut above the rest. Kismet Rotisserie is no exception, and I thoroughly enjoyed my “unboxing” experience. As I began to carefully unpack my plentiful Kismet Rotisserie bag, I first opened a box to reveal a quarter-cut chicken with glistening, crispy golden brown skin. The chicken plate meal included creamy hummus and an iceberg lettuce wedge salad with shaved radish, scallions, parsley and a pleasing miso poppy seed dressing. The plate is completed with Kismet’s delicious soft, warm and puffy pita bread.

Be sure to order the tzatziki with toasted fennel seeds. It’s made with cucumber and yogurt and is an ideal dip or great poured onto the golden-brown chicken.

Next, I unwrapped a chicken pita sandwich stuffed with shredded rotisserie chicken and roasted onions enhanced with turmeric. A dollop of yogurt, a few raisins and sprigs of arugula brightened the sandwich and enhanced the savory flavors of the chicken and onions. After one bite, I vowed to definitely order this sandwich again.

They also offer a comforting chicken soup with a lemony broth, sliced celery, carrots, shredded chicken and a sprinkling of dill.

Their salads are excellent and most certainly should be enjoyed with their ethereal pita bread. I split a disc open and filled it with the roasted cabbage salad bathed lightly in a yogurt dressing, and topped with toasted fennel seeds. The crunchy and tasty salad offers a slightly sweet and subtle licorice essence.

Opening yet another container of deliciousness, I discovered bright orange shredded carrots dressed with citrus zest and a light coriander vinaigrette. The fresh carrots are a perfect accompaniment to the meal.

For those looking for something heartier, Kismet Rotisserie’s “Schmaltzy” crispy potatoes, tossed with toasted garlic and chicken drippings are sinfully delicious and a must-have. Vegetarians can order crispy potatoes tossed in toasted garlic oil only.

For little ones, they offer a chicken plate with rotisserie chicken, pita, hummus and veggies. They also have a kid’s roasted veggie plate with tahini for dipping.

For something sweet, Kismet Rotisserie offers tahini chocolate chip cookies and halvah pudding cups.

If you are looking for a satisfying, wallet-friendly, gourmet mezze-style meal, definitely check out Kismet Rotisserie. Chefs Kramer and Hymanson have adapted their take-home experience to be safe, delicious, and up to par with their dine-in standards. Grab your next meal to-go at Kismet Rotisserie (wearing a mask, of course!). Call to order and pick up, or go online and use the Caviar or Doordash option for delivery. kismetla.com/kismet-rotisserie-order. $-$$ 4666 Hollywood Blvd., (323)400-3700.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News 

Mediterranean Delights Cleo Third Street

When Cleo Third Street opened two weeks ago inside the Orlando Hotel, a Cleopatra look-alike stood on the stairway landing greeting guests as they arrived. The new, 6,000-square-foot restaurant design by DesignAgency is striking. There is an enormous seven-foot mirrored ball hanging over the entrance in the front patio. It reflects back the guests entering and leaving, evoking curiosity to all who look up.

 

Inside is a rich, earth toned color palette with Mediterranean tile and mosaic accents. Another striking feature is the custom mural by popular LA street artist Crytik titled Facing East. The artist’s inspiration is from Turkish Kilim rugs and Moroccan tiles.

The restaurant is named after the Queen of Egypt, and the menu is reflective of Executive Chef Danny Elmaleh’s heritage. Born to a Moroccan father and a Japanese mother, Elmaleh later moved to Japan, where his father opened the country’s first Moroccan restaurant. Elmaleh worked alongside his father in the kitchen and later traveled to the U.S. to attend the famed Culinary Institute of America in New York.

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Sitting upstairs at a table for ten, we excitedly sampled a variety of Elmaleh’s Mediterranean dishes while sipping Maestro Dobel Tequila signature cocktails with the names “Frankly, My Dear…” and “Desert Sunrise.” I’m a huge fan of Elmaleh’s cooking, after reviewing the first Cleo inside the Redbury Hotel on Vine Street about two years ago. I fondly remember the warm and addictively good laffa bread, meaty kebabs and cool mezze plates.

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At Cleo Third Street his laffa is thicker and chewier than pita, perfect for scooping up the “masabacha” hummus topped with whole chickpeas, instead of a pureed dip. It’s tossed with tahini, cumin, parsley and a squeeze of lemon. I also scooped the laffa up in lebaneh, a greek yogurt dip mixed with sheep’s milk feta cheese and the Middle Eastern spice mixture za’atar. It’s delicious.

There was a carrot salad with pine nuts and micro greens and a pickled beet salad with chunks of avocado, a few walnuts and pomegranate seeds tossed in for texture and pizzaz.

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The Greek salad was mixed with deep red Campari tomatoes that were larger and sweeter than cherry tomatoes. Cubes of cucumber, feta and kalamata olives rounded out this flavorful vegetarian dish.

A slew of hot mezze plates arrived that included a plate of Brussels sprouts sprinkled with toasted almonds, chili flakes, and capers that were all tossed lightly in a pleasing vinaigrette.

 

Everyone took out their iPhones to capture the flaming Haloumi cheese dazzled with orange blossom honey and a walnut chimchurri. It lit up the dining room with theatrical flair.

Kebabs came out on a plate with a brown paper liner. There was a lamb kefta that is mixed to resemble a skinny meat loaf on a skewer. It’s made with ground lamb mixed with cumin, paprika, minced onion, coriander, and parsley. Also on the plate was a thick cut of Wagyu flat iron steak and a salmon kebab doused in lemon.

 

The cameras came out again when a beautiful blue and white Moroccan style tagine was brought to the table. As out server lifted the lid in a dramatic fashion, Elmaleh’s lemony chicken stew with saffron rice and sliced green olives were revealed for all to admire and enjoy.

Another “family-style” dish to share around the table was a charcoal-grilled branzino served whole with fresh tomato and olives.

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For dessert we had macarons in a variety of rainbow colors and Elmaleh sticky toffee pudding cake enhanced with dates – a satisfying, sweet ending to a wonderful dinner.
Before leaving I was introduced to Daniel del Olmo, the CEO of Disruptive Restaurant Group. “We are eager to welcome our neighbors along West Third Street. This area is one of the most popular go-to dining corridors,” he said. “Cleo Third Street is the latest concept from sbe’s Disruptive Restaurant Group.”

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Next I met Ken Pressberg, the owner of The Orlando Hotel. “The Orlando Hotel has been a part of our family history for three generations and it has become a landmark on West Third Street,” Pressberg said, “Making a decision on the right restaurant partner is very important to us all. We are thrilled to be partnering with such a sophisticated and esteemed group of hospitality professionals.”

Besides lunch and dinner, Elmaleh is also preparing weekend brunch. Along Third Street is a takeaway window with small bites to grab on the go.

Looking for a local hotel to place out of town guests during the holidays or a restaurant to celebrate with family and friends, experience Elmaleh’s blend of exotic Middle Eastern flavors at this new contemporary Mezze bar and restaurant. $$ 8384 W. Third St. (323)579-1600.

This review was also featured in the Dec. 14, 2017 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – http://beverlypress.com/2017/12/mediterranean-delights-at-cleo-third-street/

New Fig & Olive Spring Menu

(Spring Delights at Fig & Olive - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Spring Delights at Fig & Olive – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

I was invited to try the handsome Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet’s new Spring menu at Fig & Olive on the corner of Melrose Place and La Cienega. The night before he was presenting a similar menu to food writers at the upscale Fig & Olive in Newport Beach.

Born in the South of France, Hocquet’s a classically trained chef with over 15 years of international experience in Paris, New York, Monaco, and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. He has worked with some of the most renowned Michelin chefs around the world, such as Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud.

(The talented Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet)
(The talented Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet)

“Spring is the most beautiful season in the South of France,” Hocquet shared with me. “The vegetables are like newborns; they’re pure and delicate. From peas to asparagus, they require minimal treatment, as the quality of produce speaks for itself. The new dishes channel a sense of culinary nostalgia and inspiration from the markets in the South of France.”

Throughout the evening, Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet visited our table to tell us about each dish. They were bright and flavorful with a theme of fresh Spring asparagus and peas and blends of citrus, including Clementines.

Founder Laurent Halasz collaborated with Executive Chef Hocquet, along with eight of FIG & OLIVE’s chefs, to create the following dishes:

Provencal Carrot & Thyme Soup – My new friend Jerone is vegan and throughly enjoyed a bowl of  heirloom baby carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and thyme with an olive oil crouton. This dish was inspired by a recipe from FIG & OLIVE’s new cookbook, “FIG & OLIVE: The Cuisine of the French Riviera” showcasing Francine and Laurent Halasz’ recipes.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

I enjoyed the Burrata & Asparagus with a glass of champagne on ice with sliced strawberries. The creamy burrata was served with tender asparagus, snow peas, hazelnuts, arugula, and micro-basil with a blood orange zest dressing.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Next we received a Crab Salad made with jumbo lump crab, celery, celeriac, snow peas, green apples, lime, cilantro, scallion, horseradish, and pink pepper. It was not my favorite, instead I pushed it aside to try the more comforting Primavera Risotto made with Arborio rice, asparagus (the first vegetable of Spring), green peas, pea shoots, and a green pea puree with parmesan, garlic, and shallots.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Our table had the choice of three entrees. My friend Emilia and Shaena agreed with me that we would each order a different entree and share it with each other. Emilia ordered the seared Sea Scallops with a Moroccan flair offering multi-colored honey heirloom carrots and orange purée, roasted orange segments, poppy seeds and charmoula.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Shaena ordered the Filet Mignon marinated with rosemary, thyme, garlic, beef and barley risotto with hedgehog mushroom, manchego, and mascarpone cheese with a creative and healthier Olive oil Béarnaise. Premium olive oils are used in most dishes, instead of butter or cream.  It was delicious.

(Healthy Salmon - Photo by Jill Weinlein?
(Healthy Salmon – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

I ordered the Riviera Salmon offering a variety of Spring flavors with seared salmon, grilled asparagus, sweet braised fennel, on a bed of pea puree and Arbequina olive oil emulsion and lemon zest.

(A sweet ending - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(A sweet ending – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

For dessert, my vegan friend had poached pears, while the rest of us enjoyed the Clementine Vacherin dessert made with blood orange coulis, clementine sorbet, white chocolate mousse, and meringue kisses. It was a balance of sweet and citrus, crunchy and smooth promoting a satisfying ending.

I left the restaurant feeling fortified, because nothing was laden with fat. I didn’t fill  heavy, tired or too full. It’s a menu filled with antioxidants. FIG & OLIVE continues to maintain long relationships with farms and premier purveyors that have been used for many years including D’Artagnan, Premier Meat Company, Baldor, Nature’s Produce, Kenter Canyon Farms, amongst others.

Visit www.figandolive.com to find a location nearest to you.

 

FIG & OLIVE – Mediterranean Diet Friendly

DSC_0988Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The key components of the Mediterranean diet include a splash of olive oil, instead of butter, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, legumes and nuts. A glass of red wine is acceptable too.

Fig & Olive’s menu offers dishes that are ideal for the diet, as Executive Chef Pascal Lorange’s prepares his Mediterranean dishes with herbs, spices and some of the finest olive oils from the Mediterranean region to enhance his dishes.

I recently dined with a group of friends at Fig & Olive on Melrose Place to enjoy chef Lorange’s new Spring menu Mediterranean dishes. We sat in the back dining room with elegant limestone stucco walls. The restaurant has live green rosemary and olive trees offering the essence of the Mediterranean. Visually, the open kitchen is illuminated by shelves of colorful olive oil bottles.
Guests receive a plate of rosemary olive oil bread with small dishes of three distinctive extra virgin olive oils from Spain, Greece and Italy.

We each chose a glass of wine or champagne from over 30 varietals from the South of France, Italy, and Spain. I sipped a nice French Rose’ made with Grenache/Syrah from the Château La Coste “Cuvée Bellugue” Côtes de Provence. It was floral, with hints of white fruits.

DSC_0985The wine paired well with a variety of crostinis. My favorite was the savory caramelized onion with goat cheese and chive. I also liked the Manchego with sliced fig and a Marcona almond.

Since the Mediterranean diet traditionally includes antioxidant-rich vegetables, Chef Lorange’s includes on his new menu, a cold gazpacho Andalucia with minced tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, red onion, basil, Sherry vinegar and a splash of basil olive oil. There is a small scoop of Ayala goat cheese to enhance the dish.

Another winning dish is his rainbow heirloom tomato Caprese with luscious burrata and sliced figs to add a delightful sweetness. It’s lightly dressed with 18-year balsamic vinegar and basil green olive oil.

The crab and heirloom tomato appetizer is made with jumbo lump crab. It looked and had the texture of an elegant tuna salad.DSC_0991
To help promote health and prevent disease, fish is approved on the diet. Fig & Olive offers six different pescatarian dishes that include Mediterranean branzino; Chilean sea bass and yellowfin tuna a la Provencale. The Riviera salmon is also an excellent choice with seared salmon served with grilled asparagus and a flavorful braised fennel. The dish is decorated with a pea puree, Koroneiki olive oil emulsion and a spritz of lemon zest.

The most visually spectacular dish of the evening was the rosemary lamb chops served on a plate with a glass dome cover. Once the cover was released, a smokey vapor of Herbs de Provence was released into the air. The chops were accompanied with grilled polenta, braised eggplant, roasted bell peppers and a drizzle of rosemary garlic olive oil.

I’m not sure if the creamy fig and gorgonzola risotto made with Arborio rice qualifies as a Mediterranean dish, because it is so rich, yet it’s so satisfying and worth the splurge. It’s pure comfort food in a bowl.

Grains are important in a Mediterranean diet, so Chef Lorange offers a red quinoa salad with a variety of vegetables and dresses it up with a Arbequina olive oil.

DSC_0999All of the pasta and risotto dishes are vegetarian, however guests may add a grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp for some protein.
On the diet, poultry can be consumed twice a week. A good choice is the Provence roasted free range chicken from Mary’s farm marinated with Herbs de Provence and garlic. It arrives with a side of ratatouille and roasted potatoes.

My favorite is the colorful Fig & Olive Tajine with Moroccan spiced chicken cooked with figs, carrots, olives, apricots, zucchini, cipolini onions, tomatoes, toasted almonds and a couscous blended with cilantro and harissa. The olive oil enhancing this dish is Arbequina, an aromatic, buttery oil from Melgarejo in Andalucía, Spain.

Since red meat should be consumed no more than a few times a month, the filet mignon is an excellent choice. The 8 oz. Creekstone farm filet is marinated with thyme, garlic and rosemary before its grilled and served with farro risotto accented with black trumpet mushrooms, and two cheeses – manchego and mascarpone. The Béarnaise sauce for the steak is made with Arbequina olive oil.

For those seeking a romantic dinner, Fig & Olive offers a few tableside-for-two entrees that include a whole two-pound Branzino; 16 oz. Creekstone farm Black Angus Chateaubriand; and a 36 oz. Cote de Boeuf Creekstone farm bone-in Ribeye.

Save room for the light panna cotta a l’ orange with a cookie crumble. There is also a lavender creme brûlée with lovely lavender ice cream and a crunchy thyme shortbread cookie.

While at Fig & Olive, you can bring Mediterranean ingredients home with you to maintain the diet. The restaurant offers a retail collection of over 30 different types of extra virgin olive oil ranging from a fruity and delicate varietal from Provence to a peppery Tuscan olive oil from Villa Lucia. The restaurant also sells infused olive oils with truffle; basil, and lemon.

Open for lunch starting at 12 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday brunch at 11 a.m. Dinner service begins Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m. on Friday through Sunday, dinner service begins at 5:30 p.m. $$$ 8490 Melrose Place (310)360-9100.