Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Bavel DTLA

Bavel DTLA has been on my list since it opened more than a year ago. Sister restaurant to Bestia, Bavel is owned by Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis and is located in the Arts District of Downtown LA. Between my travel schedule over the last year and Bavel’s location which can take more than an hour for me to get to on any given weeknight, it took me a while to get there. But, this past Sunday when a friend came into town, it was the perfect excuse to head to Bavel, the Please The Palate Pick of the Week.

Located in a large old warehouse, Bavel sits on an isolated corner in the Arts District. Inside, white-washed walls, wood furnishings, high ceilings with skylights and ductwork and plants draping down from the ceiling make it feel like you have entered a Middle Eastern paradise.

A long bar with bright metallic pink chairs line one side of the room. We enjoyed cocktails at the bar while we waited for our reservation. The Caliana with amaro, sumac, sloe gin, violette, lime, cucumber, soda and flowers was a delicate aperitivo. The Saffron with pink lemonade with pomegranate and cinnamon and flat or sparkling water was one of the interesting non-alcoholic drinks on the menu.

Along the back wall is the open kitchen. There are a lot of people working in the kitchen yet there is a rhythm and a calmness to the energy. There are even seats along the kitchen counter so that you can watch the chefs work while you eat. This is where we sat.

Bavel celebrates the family roots of Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis and the cuisine showcases the flavors and dishes of Israel, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt.

We started with Spreads

The Hummus is creamy and chunky garbanzo bean puree with green and red chili paste and served with warm pita. Served warm, this hummus was similar to the amazing hummus I ate in Israel.

The Farm Cheese is borage and savory za’atar with olive oil and maldon and served with a toasted black sesame buckwheat loaf. This cheese is so creamy and delicious I could happily eat an entire bowl myself.

From the Appetizers, there were so many items that caught our eyes.

Scallop Crudo with pomegranate reduction, citrus, serrano oil, charred cucumber, strawberry, tarragon and black sesame. The scallop was tender and creamy and I loved the tartness of the pomegranate and the sweetness of the strawberry. But watch out for the heat of the pomegranate reduction as the serrano oil adds a little kick.

Marinated Tomato with smoked harissa, whipped feta, black garlic, sesame, sunflower and cilantro. Our seats were in front of this station and we watched the two cooks carefully cut up tomatoes and delicately place them on top of the whipped feta and then add all of the other ingredients. Watching them work, we knew we had to order this dish and it was definitely a good call. However, again, watch out for the heat as the chili oil from the harissa is drizzled on top and it is quite spicy.

Oyster Mushrooom Kebab on spinach and lovage puree and sumac. Big oyster mushrooms are roasted and have a wonderful char on the edges. I love mushrooms but I think even non-mushroom lovers would like this.

Grilled Prawns in a harissa marinate, cured zucchini tzatziki, fresh herbs and lime was another favorite of the night. The shrimp were tender and juicy and the marinade was finger-licking good. And the tzatziki, with thinly sliced cucumber instead of diced, was one of the best I have ever had.

The tempura battered Crispy Okra with fermented mango and creme fraiche is a newer item on the menu. The pieces of okra were large and coated by a light shell of tempura. The dip was thick and rich and grew on me after a few bites.

We were so full that we skipped the Entrees but we had to have dessert and opted for the most unique sounding one, Licorice Root Ice Cream Bonbon with sour licorice caramel, muscovado cake, caramelized white chocolate and maldon salt.

After finally dining at Bavel, I understand why it was LA Magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2018, one of the 13 Best Restaurants in the Country to Open in 2018 according to Thrillist and considered one of the 18 Best New Restaurants in America in 2018 by Eater. Bavel is the Please The Palate Pick of the Week and I can’t wait to go back!

500 Mateo Street, Los Angeles