Walking into Seasoning Alley is a little like walking into a sunrise. Bright orange and yellow paint coat the walls and prints of big red poppies lift your spirits. An open floor plan feels more open with two bay windows big enough to house three tables. The view outside, favored by movie crews, is one of the prettiest in Montrose. Add to this good food and friendly service and it’s no wonder the brand-new Seasoning Alley is already attracting regulars.
Co-owner and Glendale resident Jack Petrosyan has been in the restaurant business for fifteen years, including a stint at Fresh Fire Kabob in the Hollywood and Highland complex. He and co-owner Armen Beglaryan have brought their work closer to home now by not only settling in Montrose but by bringing in lots of friends and family — cousins, brothers, father, sister, daughter — to help with the business. The vibe is friendly, happy and eager to please.
The menu is not groundbreaking. It’s classic Middle Eastern fare — kabobs, hummus and the like — albeit super-fresh and made from scratch. What is new is their approach. Customers are encouraged to be creative in the sides they choose. And samples are given freely.
All their combo plates (priced $7.99 to $11.99) come with three sides. If you don’t specify, they issue fluffy basmati rice, chopped romaine-tomato salad and fresh hummus. But here’s your chance to mix it up. Their eggplant salad with roasted eggplant, carrots, bell pepper and herbs is wonderful, as is their smoky mutabal. The tabouleh is refreshing but maybe a little repetitive by the end of the portion. The tzatziki’s thick yogurt mixes well with meats, veggies and bread, including their warm pita, grilled jalapenos and grilled tomatoes (standard on every plate). Plates are very generous but heartier appetites might try the chicken salad with dill and mayonnaise or the dolmas stuffed with rice.
As far as sides go, the real winner, in my opinion, is their unique, homemade beet and green apple salad. It has little cubes of fresh roasted beets (no cans are opened in this restaurant) and raw apples mixed with parsley, dill and balsamic vinegar. Tart, sweet and oozing healthfulness, it tastes great by the forkful or mixed with their house salad.
Which protein to choose? Well, you can’t beat the chicken kabob. The big chunks are unfailingly juicy and flavorful. The falafel balls are good too, piping hot and beautifully green inside where chopped parsley has been mixed with the chickpeas. Lula, made from fresh ground beef, is juicy as well and not too highly seasoned. Our only disappointment was the shawarma, beef sliced off a large seasoned standing spit. It was surprisingly dry and lacked zing. My guess is it was a bad day and would be worth trying again.
The order-at-the-counter concept and open dining space is well-suited to local workers, couples, teens, parents with strollers, single diners, basically anybody in the mood for a quick, inexpensive meal in an easy-going environment. The acoustics are on the tinny side, making it a little loud, say, if babies are in the house. Parking is a cinch, though, as I hope it always is in Montrose. Phone-in and take-out orders are easy and free delivery (minimum order $15) is available within three miles.
All in all, the folks at Seasoning Alley make it easy to enjoy fresh, fast, homemade Mediterranean food the way you like it.
What: Seasoning Alley
Where: 2332 Honolulu Ave., Montrose
Hours: seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Price range: Wraps and bowls $5.99 to $6.99; Plates $7.99 to $11.99
More info: More info: (818) 249-4949, seasoningalley.com
LISA DUPUY has reviewed area restaurants since 2008. She can be reached at LDupuy@aol.com.