Sherman's Food Adventures: Bavel

Bavel

While planning out our eating destinations when we were in LA, I had some ideas that made it onto the final cut.  However, with the help of Mijune, I was able to fine-tune the list which meant I *had* to visit Bavel.  One of the more popular restaurants in LA, it resides in the hot arts district along with its related restaurant, Bestia.  Yes, this is from the same folks who run Bestia, which is an LA institution.  We ended up with a great meal there and expected nothing less from Bavel, albeit with a different theme in elevated Middle Eastern.  We were able to get a reservation and scored a seat outside on the patio.  Pretty windy, but loved the atmosphere and amount of natural light.

Starting off with 2 spreads, we had the Duck 'nduja Hummus with pita bread and the Babaganoush with fried pita bread.  Creamy, garlicky and almost airy, the hummus by itself was already flavorful and delicious.  There was was a light dusting of sumac to add some spice.  However, the aromatic and spicy duck 'nduja provided the depth and body that transformed the hummus into something super impactful.  The smokiness of the babaganoush was the first thing that hit my palate, then it gave way to a tanginess and finally some earthy tones from the mushrooms and coriander.  The side of fried pita was also a star being fluffy and light with very little grease.

Normally, I'm as excited about vegetable dishes as rush hour traffic on the I-5, but both the Cauliflower and Mushrooms blew me away.  Nicely charred and smoky, the cauliflower was still firm despite being cooked all the way through.  It was not as spicy as it appeared, but still had impact.  There was a level of sweetness that provided balance.  On the side, the crème fraîche was the cooling touch needed for the plate.  That was good, but the mushrooms were life-changing (well, not really, but close!).  Beyond the natural meatiness of the oyster mushroom, the preparation created even more body.  It was smoky from the grill and aromatic.  The seasoning was on point where the umaminess was magnified.  Loved this dish.

Our last small dish was was the Octopus which was nicely charred where the crust on the outside was firm and caramelized.  That gave way to super tender meat that required very little chewing.  There was a noted spice from the chili oil while the avocado cream underneath had an earthiness from the coriander.  Loved the pickled okra as it added the necessary acidity.  Onto the larger dishes, we had the Aged Duck and it was fantastic.  The breast was prepared on a large skewer where the skin was crispy and decently rendered.  As for the meat, it was still juicy and tender with the gaminess of aged meat.  The duck confit leg was fantastic.  With crispy rendered skin and tender gelatinous meat, it ate really well.  Seasoning was on point too.

All of our dishes were great, but the Lamb Neck Shawarma was the proverbial icing on the cake.  It was super tender and full-flavored.  The earthiness of the cumin and coriander was quite evident as well as a hint of cinnamon. It rested on top of bread and we ate it like a taco with the condiment which included pickled veggies, sour cream and cilantro.  As you can clearly tell, I really loved the food at Bavel.  It was familiar, yet completely interesting at the same time.  Textures were how they should've been, but the imactful flavors, whether they were profile of the dish or in the background, were absolutely delicious.

The Good:
- Textures were on point
- Flavors were impactful and balanced
- Interesting food, not just the regular

The Bad:
- Parking in the area is frustrating
- If you chose to sit outside, make sure you bring a jacket

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