Name of restaurant: Madcapra, a name that combines madcap and capra, which means goat in Latin, opened May 6 in downtown L.A.'s Grand Central Market.
Concept: A Middle Eastern counter featuring falafel and other snacks, run by Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, two chefs from Brooklyn who cooked at Blue Hill and at Glasserie, a Mediterranean restaurant in New York. The chefs did a one-night pop-up recently at Animal, and have plans for a second restaurant in L.A. Kramer's family is Israeli, so she grew up with this style of cooking. Coming to L.A. made sense for many reasons, not least of which, she says, is the fantastic produce.
"Originally the concept was falafel in the front and a sit-down restaurant in the back," says Hymanson. As for why Grand Central Market, "its an amazing place to be -- having this built-in community." And although they're eventually opening a second place, this will be after they have the place they opened up and running for a while. Be patient, have a sumac-beet soda.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why: Guess. The falafel sandwiches, which come in red (tomato, cabbage, pickles, tahini, basil) and green (cauliflower, fennel, labneh, cilantro), and are jammed into a just-grilled flatbread. Yes, everything is made in-house. Do you really have to ask? The red version is spiced with cardamom, black pepper and Fresno chiles, as well as falafel, basil, cabbage, tomato, onion and pickles. The green has falafel, greens, coriander, clove, grilled and marinated cauliflower and pickled fennel.
Since the flatbread that comes with your sandwich will not be enough, order an extra. Why? Because it comes warm, happily grill-marked, and loaded with za'atar and sesame seeds. On a tray, with labneh and pickles. Exactly. Oh, and those two red and green squeeze bottles of sauce? Both variations of the Yemeni hot sauce zhoug, which Hymanson says they make by the vat.
Who's at the next table: Any of the many people who now crowd Grand Central Market. Since Madcapra is right across the aisle from DTLA Cheese, you might find a good number of people who've just been shopping for cheese — and maybe a cheesemonger or two.
Appropriate for: Pretty much anybody, but particularly good after you've bought a wedge of Idiazabel.
Service: Very friendly and accommodating, probably because you're sitting at the marble bar and talking to the chefs while you order.
What you're drinking: That sumac-beet soda, made with freshly juiced beets, soda water and lots of sumac.