Angelenos have been waiting a long time for Bavel. Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, the duo behind essential LA restaurant Bestia, first announced plans for a Middle Eastern restaurant in 2013. When it opens today, Bavel will join a wave of chefs and restaurateurs opening modern Middle Eastern restaurants in the U.S., including LA competitors Kismet and Mh Zh. But, as Eater reported earlier this year, Bavel “has the chance move the needle nationally.”
“It’s not just za’atar, sumac, and orange blossom. It’s a lot more,” Gergis said earlier this year. “I see people taking dishes or ingredients we’re familiar with and adding unfamiliar spices. But we want to bring it forward.” As at Bestia, at Bavel, Menashe will cook the savory dishes while Gergis, his wife, handles desserts. For the menu, the couple drew inspiration from Menashe’s Israeli background as well as from Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt, Eater LA reports.
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. Gergis’s desserts at Bestia are among the city’s best, and with options like rose clove chocolate doughnuts and a strawberry sumac and sweet cheese pastry, she’ll likely replicate that feat here.
Gergis intends for Bavel to be a bit upscale but not “ornate.” She designed the space in collaboration with LA-based Studio Unltd, and they filled it with blue and yellow tile, cascading greenery, gold light fixtures, and rose gold bar seats. “We’re keeping it clean,” Gergis told Eater. “It’s not a caricature.”
Bavel is located in the Arts District, not far from Bestia. Although that mega hit initially opened as an Italian restaurant, over the years, Menashe has incorporated more Middle Eastern influences into the menu. At Bavel, though, Menashe will have the chance to go all in on Middle Eastern cooking. “I’ve been cooking Italian food for 16 years. And it’s all been leading to this place,” the chef said to Eater LA.
Bavel opens for dinner tonight, with lunch to come. Take a look around the space below:
• Bavel [Official]
• Bavel Brings the Bestia Team’s Middle Eastern Dream to Life [ELA]
• Ori Menashe’s Arts District Dreams Grow With New Restaurant Bavel [ELA]
• The 19 Most Anticipated Restaurants of 2018: Winter-Spring Edition [E]