Growing up in Los Angeles, Dar Maghreb was LA’s premier Moroccan restaurant. I remember my parents going there on special occasions. I even remember going with them once when I was a tween and being mesmerized by the decor, the belly dancers, sitting on pillows and eating with my hands. But after 40 years, the restaurant closed and a new restaurant opened in its place last year – Acabar.
Over the past year, I have seen Acabar at various events around Los Angeles, including LA Food and Wine and LA Times Taste. At these events, Chef de Cuisine Kevin Luzande was behind the table serving up the amazingly delicious crispy lamb buns. Every time I tried one of these, I told myself that I needed to go to Acabar.
Acabar as been open for one year now and I finally made it in in time for the new Fall menu. From the minute you open up the large gold doors, you will be transported into another world.
While Acabar is no longer a Moroccan restaurant, the interior decor is still the same with intricate marbling, tiles and ceiling painting. A large fire pit sits in the center of the room with an open rooftop above. On one side of the fire pit is the dining room and on the other side is a dance floor (on weekends it turns into a club) with a long bar running between the two.
To start the night, I ordered a cocktail from bar manager Quiana LaFleur whose new fall cocktail menu is divided into three categories – “Strong,” Floral,” and “Aromatic.” My choice was the California Sage with London dry gin, sage, cardamom, pineapple, lime and falernum.
We sat down at a table and the food started to flow. The menu is global with French and Mediterranean influences but features fresh, local ingredients. With raw oysters the first item on the menu, we ordered a few to get started and they are served with an assortment of mignonette and sauces.
There are two bread options and we went with the Country Crouton – large chunks of soft bread served with sweet caramelized apples, rich, creamy brillat savarin cheese, pumpkin seeds and calvados.
The Duck Duo Salade from the Earth section of the menu comes with cured duck breast, crispy duck rillette, charred chicory, orange marmalade and verjus and perfectly highlights Fall flavors with citrus notes.
From the Sea section of the menu, we went with three dishes:
Kanpachi Crudo with amber jack fish, shaved pears, olive dust, plum vinaigrette and salmon roe.
Crispy Shrimp Toast with rock shrimp, thai basil with a fried quail egg on top, served with fish sauce.
Then from the Large Plates section, we ordered another three selections:
Crispy Pork Belly Cubes with caramelized apples, white grits, braised kale and dirty sauce.
Agnolotti with butternut squash, house cured bacon, fruit mostarda, sage cream and balsamic reduction.
NZ Snapper, vermouth poached, truffled potato + leeks and purple chips.
As the conversation flowed from course to course, so did the wines. Sommelier Emmanuel Faure has put together a beautiful wine list featuring both domestic and international wines and has over 20 wines by the glass.
A meal isn’t complete without dessert and I loved the deconstructed Banana Cream Pie with banana custard, spiced plantain, wafer and sponge cake.
But after a filling meal, the Coconut Coulant with coconut custard, mango compote, coconut powder and coconut foam was ideal – light, airy and refreshing. No matter how full you are, you will have room for this.
Here’s hoping Acabar will be around as long as Dar Maghreb was. One year down…..39 more to go!
1510 N Stanley Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046