3rd visit. We had a few ideas for dinner this evening, but thanks to @PorkyBelly and @DTLAeater raving about their visits as well, we decided we had to go back to Bavel.
Bavel remains a beautiful, warm, inviting space, that never feels too fussy; just entertaining and relaxed.
Chef-Owner Ori Menashe was busy on the line again, but this time on a different part of the line, in front of the fierce open-fire, wood-burning hearth. We were wondering what Chef Ori might be doing tonight for him to take over that section of the kitchen. We would soon find out…
Baba Ghanoush (Smoked Eggplant, Burnt Bell Pepper, Red Walnuts, Lemon Chili Salt, Fried Pita):
We were eyeing this on our previous visit, but thanks to DTLAeater for the recommendation, we had to order their Baba Ghanoush this time.
Many of us have had Baba Ghanoush around the city, but to understand what’s going on here, is to look deeper at the dish itself: It starts with a gorgeous Smoked Eggplant, pureed down, so that you get this creamy, smoky, gorgeous spread, but then it’s topped with Burnt Bell Pepper & Chili Oil Reduction, which is incredible! It enhances the Baba Ghanoush even more, and the Red Walnuts give it a distinct nuttiness that only Walnuts can give. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil here is just as ridiculous, beautiful and fragrant.
As if that wasn’t enough, it gets better. As @DTLAeater raved about it comes served with a different type of Bread than their Hummus and Duck 'Nduja Hummus (which are great). It’s a Handmade Fried Pita topped with Turmeric Lime Salt!
It is visually stunning, but then you gently break it apart - it is piping hot and so airy - and steam rises out of the Pita when you crack it open. Just look at how airy and delicate this is:
It was seriously like biting into a fresh, fluffy, (spicy) cloud!
Add the Baba Ghanoush and the Turmeric Pita together and you had one of the Best Bites of 2018 (again)! SO GOOD!
Then we had more Baba Ghanoush left, so we ordered an extra Regular Handmade Pita:
Piping hot, fluffy, airy and outstanding again! Not dry at all. @set0312 hopefully your visit at 10:00 p.m. slot was an aberration; with our 3 visits and checking with 2 other friends’ and their visits, none of us have had any dry or mediocre Pitas. Then again none of us ate at the 10:00 p.m. hour.
Currently the best Pitas in L.A. easily. (@Bigmouth @LAgirl and other afficianados of Pitas, don’t miss out!)
Lamb Flatbread (Spicy Fermented Sausage, Grated Tomato, Red Onion, Parsley, Pine Nuts, Nigella Seed, Mint, Sumac):
Bavel’s Flatbreads are also made from scratch, in-house. I think our server said it was inspired by Turkish Flatbread. It arrives with nice leopard spotting, a beautiful crust and the Housemade Spicy Fermented Lamb Sausage is present, but it’s judiciously used, so that each bite gives you this fragrant gamy hint of Fermented Lamb Sausage, without overpowering the dish. I loved the Nigella Seeds, Mint and Sumac flavors coming together as well.
Grilled Prawns (Harissa Marinade, Eggplant Tzatziki, Herbs, Lime):
Chef Ori’s Grilled Prawns arrive fresh off the wood-burning hearth. They are hot off the grill and our server encouraged us to rip off the Prawn heads to dip into the Eggplant Tzatziki and suck out the juices.
The Eggplant Tzatziki is creamy, cooling and a perfect match for the gloriously spiced Harissa Grilled Prawns. The flavor combination is outstanding as @PorkyBelly mentioned, and the Harissa Prawns are so tasty, sweet and fresh! Delicious!
(NEW) Aged Duck Four Ways (Breast Kebab, Leg Confit, Chopped Livers & Hearts, Ginger Broth, Fig Leaf Vinegar Dressed Herbs):
Yus! Chef Ori has just added a New Menu Item tonight: His own In-House Aged Duck, served 4 ways! We had to order this. Chef Ori ages the Duck for 5 days before serving (paging @CiaoBob).
Duck Ginger Broth:
This was just a touch salty, but otherwise, a deep, rich, poultry flavor coming through in every sip. This was a delicious Duck Broth and would be perfect if the Salt was just a little reduced.
Chopped Duck Livers & Hearts on Eggplant:
I am not an Offal fan, but the Chopped Duck Hearts & Livers were tasty! There wasn’t that minerally, iron-taste present here that you might expect with Liver. Instead it tasted like meaty little bites of Duck in a creamy Eggplant base (which tasted like their delicious Baba Ghanoush).
Aged Duck Breast Kebabs:
First, notice the Duck Skin on the Kebabs (above). Each morsel yielded a nice crispy Duck Skin giving way to tender, perfectly cooked Duck Breast meat within! The 5-Day Aged Duck wasn’t as funky or potent as Chef Josiah Citrin’s Aged Duck at Charcoal, but that might be a good thing. It was moist, tender with crispy Duck Skin.
Aged Duck Confit:
And then we have this. Taking a bite…
JUST STOP. Seriously, Chef Ori is out of control right now at Bavel: Imagine, crisped Duck Skin giving way to the most tender, juicy, moist, mouth-wateringly delicious, slow cooked Duck Leg Meat and you have Bavel’s new Aged Duck Confit!
It might very well be the best Duck Confit in L.A. right now. It is INCREDIBLE!
(Paging our Duck Confit lovers @J_L @maudies5 PorkyBelly TheCookie @bulavinaka @beefnoguy and others, don’t miss out!)
Fig Leaf Vinegar Dressed Herbs:
One note about the Fig Leaf Herbs, these were quite tart on their own, but absolutely perfect with the Duck served 4 ways, as Duck generally is quite rich, and this helped cut through the fattiness.
Paglava (Rolled Walnut & Apricot Filled Pastry, Farm Cheese, Honey, Dried Borage Flower):
This feels like a variation of Baklava, with Bavel’s version being a Rolled Pastry filled with Walnuts and Apricots. It is lightly sweet on its own, with a lot of natural sweetness from the Apricots (a good thing). The Pastry isn’t particularly flaky, just a soft mouthfeel.
The Farm Cheese and Honey is soft and spreadable and sweet (from the Honey), giving the Dessert a bit of a luxurious taste, and the Dried Borage Flowers add a savory component.
The refills and bussing of tables were very good again on this 3rd visit. Overall, it came out to be about $70 per person (including tax and tip), which feels like a great value given how incredible the food was.
After three visits, Bavel continues to improve and get better, still churning out incredible dishes that have reached high watermarks (for us) in the City of Angels. It is no small accomplishment that Chef Ori Menashe is churning out the best Hummus and Handmade Pitas in L.A., a beautiful variation that’s even better in the Duck 'Nduja Hummus, now add to that making the best Baba Ghanoush with Handmade Turmeric Fried Pitas that we’ve tried in the city! (Let alone the Foie Gras Halva with the most incredible Handmade Buckwheat Loaf as well.)
That alone is fantastic and worth a visit, but then you get into the Appetizers like their Confit Okra, Cucumber & Artichoke Salad (so refreshing!), and the Grilled Prawns (Harissa).
And then you get to their Entrees, which so far have yielded some of the Best Bites of Year (including the aforementioned Spreads section with the fresh, piping hot Breads / Pitas): Slow Roasted Lamb Neck Shawarma (do not miss this!), Confit Turmeric Chicken Legs (my favorite on the menu) , and now Aged Duck Four Ways, which happens to serve the best Duck Confit we have in L.A. right now.
Bavel continues to serve some of the most interesting and delicious food around town (and it just opened!). It is culinary excellence and something worth celebrating.
500 Mateo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (213) 232-4966