Mezze (Los Angeles, CA)

Mezze
401 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 2/18/12

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Mezze opened last March and was commonly featured on “Best New Restaurant” lists in LA. The food is something a little different than what I’m typically accustomed to, being focused on Mediterranean (particularly Eastern Mediterranean) flavors from the likes of Syria, Egypt and Tunisia. It’s been on my “interested to try” list for some time – a BlackboardEats deal was the impetus that brought me in the door for this visit.

The menu is largely based on small plates, with a selection of larger mains and flatbreads as well. We focused in on the small plates, ordering one of the mains and one of the flatbreads as well.

Braised Tripe falafel

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The spongy tripe was braised in a strong tomato-based sauce. It was pretty tender; crispy fried falafel provided much of the texture. I thought the deep tomato flavor may have overpowered the dish slightly, though.

Hashweh Risotto lamb, burnt onion, lemon

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This was a good risotto, creamy and somewhat rich with the small chunks of lamb. I thought this added a welcome depth of flavor, nicely complemented by a little bit of lemon. The almonds added some texture, but I’m not sure they were necessary – I enjoyed the delicate mouthfeel of the rice.

Egyptian Rebel Fries heirloom beans, brisket, syrian cheese

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This was a pretty well-executed poutine – the key was the extra crispy fries. They soaked up the meaty bean-filled gravy and still kept some of their texture. Ooey gooey deliciousness.

Blue Prawn saffron, radish, aleppo

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The plump prawns were tasty, sitting in a shellfish bisque-type broth with saffron accents. Fresh, crispy radish added some texture, as well as what I think was puffed rice.

Tunisian Fish Stew sweet potato, leek

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I didn’t realize these would essentially be fish balls – very tender, almost creamy. Onions and potatoes added some extra flavor and substance to the dish, brought together by a warm, homey broth.

Duck Gallantine israeli pickles, medjool dates

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I liked the duck on its own and also liked the warm flatbread on its own. However, when combined, the bread overshadowed the duck – I think it was too much bread for the thin slivers of meat.

Lamb Shoulder sumac, onion, black rice

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This was very tender and quite gamey. Lots of lamb flavor, smothered in a rather rich sauce.  The black rice, which had a barley-like brown color, added some starch to round out the bites.

Merguez Sausage Flatbread tomato jam, aleppo pepper

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The sauce was quite tangy and actually pretty strong in flavor. I thought it was the main flavor profile in this flatbread, overpowering the sausage itself.

Date & Amaretti Parfait mascarpone, turkish coffee

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Lastly, we shared one dessert. There were layers of sweetness between the honey, date and mascarpone offset by some of the bitterness in the coffee. A crunchy cookie provided the texture in the parfait.

Our meal at Mezze was a good one, but not great. I thought the balance of flavors were off in a few dishes, and no single dish was particularly memorable. Still, the menu and cuisine was different – a little bit of a change of pace – definitely a plus. I wouldn’t be opposed to returning, but I probably wouldn’t suggest it either.


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