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A Rose is taking root in Cap’s old quarters

Gelt is a Times staff writer.

If there is a liquor-store heaven, the old incarnation of the Cap N’ Cork in Los Feliz is surely in it. When the business was moved to a building across the street, the odd, wedge-shaped space it once occupied sat fallow until entrepreneur Ziad Richa saw its potential and transformed it into a lovely Mediterranean restaurant called Desert Rose Bar & Lounge.

What was once a cracked parking lot with a stunning vintage neon sign is now an expansive brick patio with room for 120 diners. More than 100 kinds of roses, including varieties such as John Paul II and Don Juan, are planted around the area, and two trickling fountains frame the wooden-gated entrance. Wall-sized sliding-glass doors separate the patio from the smaller inside dining area with its cheery yellow walls and dark mahogany wood bar, accented with slices of glittering stained glass.

Stained glass is second to roses as a theme for the restaurant, and bits and pieces of it are used to decorate almost every surface. Then there’s the focal point of the whole space: A glowing, 19-foot stained-glass rose that Silver Lake architect Ricardo Accorsi spent nearly six months creating.

“We started with a little bit of stained glass,” said Richa, who came from Lebanon to America more than 30 years ago. “Then we started to get more and more; we wanted it to be like the Taj Mahal.”

In L.A., a city that has always appreciated outsized efforts, surely the gesture will not go unnoticed. For that reason, neither will the food, which also comes in somewhat outsized portions. You’ll find mini-mountains of lemony tabbouleh; mounds of creamy hummus; and thick and juicy beef and chicken kebabs with a creamy garlic dipping sauce.

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Many of the recipes are steeped in Lebanese tradition -- until recently, Richa’s family owned a restaurant there -- but you can satisfy your French and Italian cravings with items such as veal osso buco, paper-thin beef carpaccio and crisp nicoise salad. There is also a large wine list and a roster of specialty cocktails and fruit-based martinis.

The restaurant is still in its soft-opening phase, but on a recent Sunday night a steady stream of curious passersby poked their heads through the gate to get a better look at the giant glowing rose.

“I’ve been wondering about this place for a while now,” said a woman in an attractive black coat as she picked up a menu. “Mmm, kebabs!”

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jessica.gelt@latimes.com

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Desert Rose

Where: 1700 Hillhurst Ave., L.A.

When: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat.

Price: appetizers, $6-$16; sandwiches, $9-$11; entrees, $14-$39

Contact: (323) 666-1166

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