Name of restaurant: Bowery Bungalow.
Chef/Owner: George Abou-Daoud (of Rosewood Tavern, Urban Garden, Bowery and more) opened Bowery Bungalow in Silver Lake this past October. The space is located on Santa Monica Blvd., just up the road from Sunset Junction. Abou-Daoud creates all the dishes and works with chef Dario Martinez on executing them.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why: The lamb belly is slow-cooked (with olive wood smoke) then fried to order. Served with spiced pomegranate jelly and braised market greens, the lamb is tender yet crispy and just exotic enough for those new to Middle Eastern flavors.
Vegetarian dishes take up most of the current menu. Two must-try plates include a za'atar-spiced bruschetta and fried cauliflower. Sure, cauliflower is all the rage right, now but Bowery Bungalow makes theirs with Egyptian dukkah (toasted nuts and seeds), tahini and cilantro.
Did you say pork? Yes, and the baby back ribs are a smack in the face (in a very good way). Falling apart and sticky, they're generously rubbed with spices and Turkish coffee, then topped with grape molasses. "If there were baby back ribs in the Middle East, these would be them," says Abou-Daoud.
One of the seafood options includes Andalusian fritto misto. Assorted vegetables and prawns are fried with a dusting of chickpea flour and served with a smoked paprika aioli. There's cardamom rice pudding for dessert, which is made with persimmon, local honey and vanilla bean.
Concept: "Modern Middle Eastern," with flavors from the Mediterranean, North Africa and Lebanon. Abou-Daoud is Lebanese and Egyptian, and grew up eating the traditional flavors he's showcasing at his latest restaurant.
The space is cozy, welcoming and adorned with vintage touches. The bar area features a tin plate-steel ceiling and display cases with antique cooking tools. A copper beer tap (circa the 1960s) sits atop the bar, with mismatched enamelware lights hanging above.
Distressed wood walls and comfortable blue banquettes warm the main dining room (seating 46), which leads out to a large patio (with more seating) out back. Bowery Bungalow almost feels like a real-life, vintage cottage, Pinterest page.
Who's at the next table: Recently, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara and Ellen Page. It's mostly an artistic-looking crowd — this is Silver Lake, after all. By 7:30 p.m., the booths are packed.
Booze: No cocktail program in the works, but plenty of craft beer, wines and house-made sangria.
Service: Very friendly. Expect brunch in the spring.
What are you drinking? Red Wine (Piccolo Cru Meritage).