Fiona Bakery was a cute little cafe in West Hollywood serving up seasonal dishes and baked goods that truly allow California’s bounty to shine. I say was, because unfortunately I just got word that they closed their doors for good this past Sunday! Such sad news, to be honest. But with crazy high rent costs and never-ending competition, the restaurant industry is a super difficult place to find success. Ever since I first spotted their sesame butter toast on Instagram, I knew I had to check it out. So when I stopped by for lunch with a good friend recently, the aforementioned bread was obviously ordered. I’m pretty much obsessed with anything involving sesame or tahini, and this did not disappoint. I loved the sweet and savory vibes going on- the sea salt honey was the perfect complement to the creamy sesame butters and chewy, yet fluffy brioche! After ogling over the beautifully impressive pastry case (and vowing to return to try more items soon), we decided to balance things out with a couple of their fresh salads. I loved the Vietnamese-meets-Cali-influenced menu- both the shredded cabbage & chicken salad and little gem salad were bright and flavorful. The menu also featured rice noodle salads and savory sweet potato pancakes- not to mention classic banh mi sandwiches that my husband absolutely adores! Those cookies stacked high in the pastry case (and the carrot cake!) continue to call my name to this day as well. Although I’m super bummed Fiona has since closed its doors, I remain hopeful the team will open another spot soon!
Mh Zh had been on my list of places to try in LA since before we ever came here, and it's pretty obvious why. It checks off all the boxes of what I want in a dining experience- Middle Eastern flavors, great bread, wood-fired veggies, lamb, & fish, and outdoor seating! All ideal things in my book. The only thing missing is a great bottle of wine to pair with such delicious food! (They used to be BYOB & are currently working on their liquor license). The space itself is quite small and doesn't take reservations, so we hadn't ventured over for dinner until recently, and wow, I'm so glad we finally did! The whole experience is very "Silver Lake"- with brown paper table cloths, silverware in a jar, and menus casually written on paper bags, all happening right on a cute little corner of Sunset Blvd. But trust me, the food couldn't be further from that boring, cookie-cutter fare you'll find elsewhere.
If you're feeling super hungry or with a group, I highly recommend you "fire menu", which is essentially ordering everything on the limited menu, and makes for a great smorgasburg of shared plates. My husband and I ordered a la carte, and still managed to try a wonderful assortment of dishes, many straight out of their Josper oven. Anything served with Bub & Grandma's bread, which is stocked at many popular restaurants in LA, is always a highlight, so we dove right into it with bowls of tehina and ful . Mh Zh's ful is a white bean stew of sorts, and comes laced with schug, a super flavorful Israeli hot sauce packed with green herbs and garlic. Yum. The grilled beets seemed so simple, but the depth of flavor involved was truly remarkable, and we both consider them some of the best we've ever eaten! The nightly special was lamb chops, which we love and naturally felt obligated to order. They were so juicy, and paired nicely with a creamy, herby chimichurri sauce, and the whole branzino was cooked to perfection in the Josper oven! I already cannot wait to go back, and considering how close I live, there's no excuse!
I'm all about a new ice cream shop opening in my neighborhood, especially in the summertime! I'd been excited to try Republic of Booza ever since I first saw the signage go up a block from my apartment (dangerously close??) in Brooklyn. While you may assume Republic of Booza serves good 'ol classic ice cream, the decadent, frozen treat here is technically called booza! What the heck is booza? I had the same question. The 'original' ice cream, known for its elastic texture and resistance to melting, was developed about 500 years ago in the eastern pocket of the Mediterranean, and is super common in Lebanon and Turkey. This denser, slightly chewier cousin to ice cream gets its texture thanks to two key ingredients: sahlab, or ground orchid root, and mastic, a resin found in the bark of a tree exclusive to the Greek isles. The result is a truly creamy, flavor-packed dessert, with zero air pockets to be found. The owners like to think of it as "gelato on steroids", and I couldn't agree more. Republic of Booza offers traditional Middle Eastern flavors, like qashta (candied cream) and tahini mint chip, as well as American classics likes salted oreo and chocolate, and even some globally inspired takes like horchata de chufa and red miso! I highly recommend stopping by the Williamsburg store, and trying it out for yourself. Just look how pumped my husband is in the above photo- like a kid in a candy store ;) You may even get lucky enough to watch the spectacle of the booza being made, which involves the confectioner crushing the booza with a three foot wooden pestle and then stretching it with his or her hands! You don't see that at many other ice cream parlors!
I'll just come right out and say it- I'm obsessed with Lodge Bread Company. This bakery and café in west LA focuses on whole grain sourdough bread baking, freshly milled flours, and wood-fired pizzas, and truly impresses in all ways, if you ask me. Every day, Lodge Bread churns out some seriously delish and hearty bread, unique pastries, and both Neapolitan & pan pizzas, not to mention some tasty wood-fired veggie dishes as well. It's truly everything I want in a meal- carbs and sweets! I'd been eyeing the (gigantic!) sourdough cinnamon roll ever since I first saw it on Instagram, and finally indulged on my most recent visit. It's not overly sweet, thanks to a lighter, whipped frosting and that hearty whole grain sourdough, but utterly delicious with the perfect amount of cinnamon flavor! Next on my must-try list is the babka!
I've now gotten to try a good variety of things from the menu, and have yet to be disappointed. Upon first entering the bakery, after checking out the bakers handling the dough with such care , you'll find the beautiful array of pastries baked fresh that day. I highly recommend trying a couple (or five). Other than the cinnamon roll, the pine nut blondie and the carrot olive oil cake are to die for! The wood-fired cauliflower with pickled raisins & chermoula is just bursting with flavor, as are the roasted beets with chicories, cara cara oranges, labne & pepitas. You can't come to Lodge without ordering pizza. Trust me, just do it. My pan pizza was thick and chewy, almost like a slightly crusty sourdough focaccia, piled high with roasted veggies. Our sweet pea pie was the perfect seasonal treat, topped with snap peas, pea tendrils, green garlic & ricotta! I'm now drooling again just thinking about this meal, so looks like a return trip is in my very near future!
Kismet was the restaurant I was most looking forward to trying once I knew we were coming to Los Angeles. This all-day café is totally up my alley- the menu reimagines Middle Eastern flavors for modern-day California cuisine- so basically everything I want in a meal. Before relocating to LA, chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson helmed the kitchen at Glasserie in Brooklyn, which is one of my husband's and my absolute favorite spots, so we had pretty high hopes for our meal at Kismet. I can say we thoroughly enjoyed the food, and although there are some similarities to Glasserie in that they both have Middle Eastern influence, Kismet is its own delicious beast. I love their focus on using small, responsible growers, and how much they value creating personal relationships with the farmers and producers. This passion really comes through in the food, as every dish really allowed the ingredients to shine.
My husband and I met another couple for dinner, so we luckily got to try a ton of different things, and honestly it would be hard for me to pick a favorite. The barbari bread by bub & grandmas was nicely doughy and chewy, but got even better when dunked into their super creamy tahini. Kismet creates some really flavorful combinations, like sweet potato with puffed rice and coconut vinaigrette, as well as kabocha squash with peanut and aleppo pepper, and I truly enjoyed all the unique flavors. Scroll through the slideshow to get details on all twelve (!) of our delicious dishes. I'm dying to return for brunch or lunch, as the Turkish-ish breakfast and broccoli toast are absolutely calling my name! The Kismet team also opened a more fast-casual falafel joint called Madcapra, so looks like I'll have to stop by Grand Central Market for lunch too!
I'm all about a seasonal menu with tons of healthy, fresh food- even better if it's got a slightly Mediterranean vibe! Lighthouse is all those things and more, with a focus on sustainability and local produce! I was excited to stop in for brunch with some girlfriends recently, and I love the laid back feeling of home you get from the moment you walk in. The whole place gets tons of light from the huge windows, and there's plenty of outdoor seating as well, which I'm sure makes the perfect spot for brunch or happy hour come summer. We started with their signature freshly baked challah bread with housemade tahini and pickles. There's not much better than fresh baked bread, except when it's slathered in rich and creamy tahini. We chose an assortment of entrees, and I loved all the bright colors involved! From vegetable salads to grilled chicken bowls to chilaquiles to ceviche, there's certainly something for everyone! I really want to try the charred eggplant bowl with green coconut rice and tahini as it sounds totally up my alley, and I think my husband would be all about the duck pita with calabrian chili! Guess we will just have to head back soon :) Make sure to click through the photos for more details on our delish meal!