Sunday, November 09, 2014

Bowery Bungalow Brings Modern Mediterranean to Silver Lake

Bowery Bungalow is located near the very end of Santa Monica Blvd. in Silver Lake

What: Bowery Bungalow recently moved into the vintage bungalow occupied by Sompun Thai for more than 40 years. The owners were ready to retire, so the space was taken over by George Abou-Daoud, owner of Hollywood spots like Bowery, Delancey and Urban Garden. The concept is modern Mediterranean (as in Middle Eastern), in a relaxed setting with wine, beer and a sweet hidden patio.
Where: 4156 Santa Monica Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-663-1500
The Space: Freshened up with whitewashed plank walls, Moorish tile floors, pressed tin ceilings and Bowery's signature subway tiles, there's not really anything in the rustic decor to signify that you're in for a culinary trip to places like Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. But that's fine, since this is a modernized take on what's already found across East Hollywood and Glendale.

The Food: The trick with modern Mediterranean is to make sure that it's at least as tasty as Zankou, Marouch or Carousel -- putting kale in tabbouli doesn't necessarily make it better, for example. So far, so good at Bowery -- several of the dishes we tried take familiar ideas to a new and even better place. Grape leaves are stuffed with spiced chickpea puree and the spices used in merguez sausage for an appetizer that's perfect for both vegetarians and meat eaters. Roast cauliflower with dukkah, falafel patties with spiced heirloom carrots and okra and smoky babaghanouj with a side of blackened shishito peppers all strike the right balance of traditional dishes executed with better ingredients and more assertive spicing. Couscous royale with a variety of fresh vegetables makes a striking presentation, though the name is odd since it implies bowls of fragrant broth and platters of meats to go along with the vegetables and grain, whereas this is just a vegetable side dish.

Main courses include decidedly non-Muslim items such as Baby back ribs with grape molasses and pork belly skewers smoked over Japanese binchotan coals as well as pan-roasted seabass, a variety of kebabs, lamb dishes and a "Reuben" sandwich with Anatolian dried beef. But the showstopper is Chicken Musakhan, which features tender chicken stewed with onions and sumac served in a Yorkshire pudding. Apparently the Palestinian version is served over a foccaccia-like bread but this Colonial twist is deliciously successful.
goat cheese combines with ricotta in Egyptian Konafah dessert
The Drinks: Beer and wine only; the craft beer selection is solid with about 10 rotating taps and some interesting selections like Mother Earth Pin-up Pale Ale.

Would I return? Definitely. Of course, prices aren't falafel-stand cheap, but the quality seems worth it, the beer is good, the familiar patio is still there and it's convenient for a variety of eating preferences.

(I was invited to try this restaurant.)

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