King of Hummus

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by Carrie Young No Comments

Long before last year’s wave of Israeli restaurants washed over Los Angeles, restaurant obsessives had been waiting for Bavel, a project Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis announced not long after they opened Bestia six years ago. Menashe had been cooking Italian food for most of his career, but he grew up in Israel, and some of Bestia’s best dishes leaned toward the Eastern Mediterranean as much as they did toward Italy. So while the overwhelming popularity of Bavel may have a lot to do with the grilled octopus with yogurt or the marinated okra with whipped feta and mint- or Gergis’ date crème brûlée it is the hummus that probably keeps Menashe up at night. Menashe and Gergis went through over 100 recipes before deciding on the current list of 30 menu items, split into spreads and flatbreads, cold and hot appetizers, and entrees for sharing, like a lamb neck shawarma and a wagyu beef cheek tagine.

The restaurant is a soaring converted warehouse near downtown’s 4th Street Bridge, on a block where Sonic Youth once played a free show on the street; all brick and chunky wood, and what looks like a forest of air plants cascading down. So if you were already a fan of Menashe’s food- and Gergis’ sublime desserts- you almost know what to expect here at Bavel. Everybody in LA these days has been yearning for a restaurant that would do for Middle Eastern cooking what Spago had done for Italian food a decade before. And if you have spent time at Bestia, you will not be surprised to hear that Bavel is also extremely loud. But the delicious food somehow tunes it out.

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