Kismet - Los Feliz

I heard about this new place from the beverage director, whom I met at a natural wine fair in Oakland Sunday. It was near my hotel and open late so I ended up there. Packed at 9:00 pm on a Monday since J. Gold just reviewed it. Like he said, the place is very much in the Chez Panisse tradition. Cal-Middle Eastern with many dishes mashing up or splitting the difference among multiple traditions with good results.

The horribly named but tasty Haggis. Kind of seems like cheating to put red grapes in your orange wine.

Harissa olives ($6) and spiced cashews ($7), nice.

Fried cauliflower with caper yogurt ($12), excellent.

Roasted radicchio with beets and sunflower tahina ($15), good, needs bread to sop up all that sauce. Some surprising aromatics from Katz late-harvest Viognier wildflower honey vinegar.

I forgot to photograph the excellent lamb belly with turnips, carob, Meyer lemon, and quinoa ($26). Really nice texture on the lamb, I suspect it was salted before braising. Great dish.

I was really too full for dessert but wanted to try the chocolate buckwheat cake with something caramel and buckwheat ice cream ($12), no printed menu so I forgot some elements. I could really taste the buckwheat in the ice cream and that was great. Not so much in the “cake” which was almost more like a pudding. Nice combination overall with the bitter chocolate, sour caramel, and earthy buckwheat.

With another dish that would have been a reasonable amount for two. I took half the olives and nuts home.

Very friendly crew. Exeptional wine list with many esoteric bottles. I’m going to try to get back before I go home to try the lamb feast for two.


Nice pictures, thanks for sharing. Did you have a reservation or just walk in?

No reservation. Waited 10-15 minutes for a seat at the bar.

Very rworange topic title there.

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Hi @robert,

Nice report. Glad you liked your visit to Kismet. :slight_smile:

We really enjoyed their Rabbit, especially the Stew version (2nd preparation on the plate).

If you get a chance for their Brunch / Lunch, get the Flaky Bread (Malawah Bread), with a Soft-Boiled Egg, Labneh, Tomato & Spice. :slight_smile: So good!

Malawach / Malabar paratha / whatever the other name is I can get at home.

How do we like this place for a date night? Too casual? I’m between here and a bar table at Shibumi. I’d do Felix but I don’t have enough pull to score a reservation for this weekend.

I still haven’t made it to Kismet, but Shibumi would probably be a more romantic place for a date.

From how cramped the space looks at Kismet, I would expect that it is quite loud, whereas you can actually converse with your lover at Shibumi.

Kismet didn’t feel loud or cramped to me. I had no problem conversing with my neighbors at the bar and the place was full.

The rabbit for two would be great for anyone I’d want to date.

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Hmm, good to know. Really surprising from the photos. I wonder how the volume level stays manageable?

I agree about the rabbit dating criterion, though haha

Nice to hear. The food is right up my girl’s alley, but it is her birthday. As long as it can feel a bit celebratory then it’ll work. If it’s excessively casual then that might dull this particular experience.
Thanks for the feedback.

Shibumi is more intimate in that you are sitting right next to your girlfriend at the bar, but the food is more cerebral and the vibe is more relaxed. Yes, there is music being played, but I would not describe the vibe as festive. To me, Shibumi is one of the most relaxing restaurants in town. If she likes Japanese food and then going out for cocktails in DTLA afterwards, it’s a good choice.

Kismet does feel slightly more casual to me, but also more lively and fun. Not too loud at all. The meal progresses pretty quickly to the point that there is less time to talk between courses. I was just stuffing my face the entire time! Afterwards, you can walk to the Dresden for live jazz music or take a short Uber to Big Bar for some great cocktails. May I suggest you start your meal at Kismet with the NV Gruet sparkling wine from New Mexico if you feel like being festive. :slight_smile:

Those might be acoustic panels on the walls and ceiling.

The lack of hard liquor might keep the volume down as well.

Finally made it to Kismet.

The $7 Rosewater Lemonade* is worth the price of admission; not overly floral, and exceptionally tasty. My my alcohol-free friends thought it was incredible, and I wholeheartedly agreed despite ordering a glass of German pinot for myself (forgot to snap a photo of the pinot, though).

Tokyo Turnips and Butter with Meyer Lemon Peel recalled a dish of great ham and butter I had at The Whale Wins in Seattle. The meyer lemon is quite faint, really just about undetectable. The salted, excellent butter magnified the juicy, vegetal crunch of the well-sourced turnips in a lovely way to my palate, though. However, I must note that this did not appeal to half of the party, one other person thought it was excellent. It probably appeals to a certain way of eating, namely an intense focus on the simple flavors of excellent produce.

Freekah Fritters were excellent. They have such a robust smokey/malty flavor that the vegetarian in the group briefly freaked out about there being meat in them. I admit, they tasted as if they contained specs of Benton’s smoked ham in them somehow, but, of course, there is no meat in reality. Sort of glutinous smokey falafel type things that were great on their own, but even better with the pickley things and green sauce (which I genuinely mistook for a leaf at first). The interplay of acid and malt, crunch, and glutinous textures really make for an intellectually stimulating and gustatorily satisfying dish.

Roasted Radicchio with yellow beets and sunflower seed tahini was also rather divisive. Compared to Robert’s rendition I think there was somewhat a paucity of the excellent sauce. The radicchio was more shockingly bitter than I thought it would be; I think with the sauce and beets it worked, but there was perhaps too much radicchio in proportion to every other element. Still, not terrible, but half of the party was put off by it.

Shaved Kohlrabi with pumpkin seeds, kumquats, and barberries was somewhat more successful, with excellent quality kohlrabi having a wonderful crunch and juiciness on its own. The sour/sweet of the barberries and kumquats juxtaposed with the crunchy, savory pumpkin seeds really worked superbly. An all around hit.

By now the one other alcoholic and I had moved on to a bottle of Sancho Panza, 2014, Fiano orange wine. The wine director texted the staff the recommendation for the bottle, as she had left for the night when we were there. Given the type of restaurant, I sort of wish the wine director would always be there in person, but I appreciated the text service. The wine went splendidly with the food; being a very light, crisp, dry, and having subtle notes of critus and hay. It was also a rather good deal at $62 when the average retail price is $33. I thought the Utah orange wine they had by the glass was also really excellent for a similar price. I love all of the orange wine. The wine program in general seems great here.

Cranberry Beans with shaved fennel and toasted chili were excellent. Most of the party didn’t care for the fennel, but I thought it worked great. I was pleasantly surprised by the heat of the chili incorporated into the dish; the cranberry beans were cooked perfectly being still a touch toothsome, yet velvety in texture. It was a bit like the most remarkable refried beans punched up with the fragance of excellent, cool, and crunchy fennel. Superb.

Jewel Crispy Rice with Egg yolk was divisive. At least one party member thought it was a horrible deal and not elevated enough versus store-bought jeweled rice, except for the portions with the egg yolk. For $14, I do feel they could include more egg yolks as the proportion is kind of out of whack. However, I thought the rice was toasted really nicely and yielded a popcorn-esque flavor; taken with the yolk, pumpkin seeds, and barberries make for a wonderful side dish to me.

So ignoring the LA Weekly’s advice and the desires of our vegetarian, I ordered the Rabbit Feast. This is a lovely set of food, but there is no question that you are being “ripped off” in monetary terms. You get about the same amount of rabbit meat at Hatchet Hall for $17, and with extra flakey bread this is $87. I was thinking the skewers would be a bit larger, and the stew woud be in a deeper bowl. However, if you can set aside the fact that strictly in price terms you are being taken advantage of, it’s a pretty pleasant set to order. The rabbit legs themselves are perfectly tender and succulent, while exuding an array of spices. The kebabs sing with a tanginess of marinade and the smokey char of open flame, the sweet potatoes are also excellent on them. The salad is perfectly dressed and full of well-sourced greens. The offal stew, though there is not a ton of it, has many chunks of rabbit, perfectly cooked chickpeas, and a slightly-spicy, earthy, flavor that is entirely unique and awesome. Grilled lemon juice amplies everything.

Angle #1:

Angle #2:

The side plate is even better. The set of pickles are outrageously good and could act as a case study in adroit pickling, most particularly of beets. Absurdly addictive. The labnah is almost like a devonshire cream, not extremely thick (my preferences lean towards super viscous labneh typically), but the most balanced version I have ever had. The tahini is probably the creamiest, most balanced tahini I have ever had as well. The zhug is bracingly spiced with enough heat to really make the other elements of the feast sing a fiery song. And, of course, that flakey bread is absolutely spectacular (so spectacular it was worth paying $7 for another 2 slices of it). Super hot, freshly grilled, flakey, crispy glory that anchors the whole meal. I was rather upset that when we took leftovers they didn’t box the leftover tahini or labneh :frowning:

We could barely handle dessert, but we also tried the Flourless Chocolate Cake with buckwheat ice cream. It was plated a touch more elegantly than Robert’s version, but it was quite nice. We wondered whether the ice cream had dairy in it, but it did sing with the flavor of buckhweat. The cake itself was more like fudge than any cake I’ve ever had, but altogether it worked fairly well even though I am typically not a chocolate dessert type of person. This was an airy, malty chocolate finish to the meal that was well executed.

Service was all over the place; sometimes extremely lax and haphazard, but sometimes overly nice…I get the feeling that some people have good hearts there, but others take complete advantage of the fact that 20% tips are tacked onto every bill regardless of service quality.

Anyhow, the total was $337 for 4 people here; but $102 of that was drinks; so for food, about $59/person with tax/tip all in. Even with what seems like the worst “rip off” on the menu included, that is actually rather low for Los Angeles dining. So I must say I don’t understand the Weekly’s position of it being overpriced.

I will say that I found it rather more loud than others have, although we could converse with each other at the table.

This place is truly chronically hip, and that is mainly because of the simple fact that it’s a really nice place to drink abnormal wine and eat well-sourced vegetables somewhat late at night (open until 11 nightly!) Despite a few hiccups it was a rather nice meal, and I can see myself returning to sample more of the dishes with dairy that I mostly was restricted from ordering out of courtesy on this particular adventure.


Based on the tattoos of your friend, you are a seriously hip crowd yourself!

Don’t get me wrong, I (we) fit right in lol

I think I’ve outed myself as a hipster on here before :stuck_out_tongue:

This is not really relevant to anything foodwise, but I found it interesting that the place seems kind of like hotspot for the female hipsters of Los Feliz/EHo/SiLa in particular… the patrons were over 80% women. Kind of like the polar opposite of a sports bar; it’s almost a bespoke restaurant catering to the stereotypical tastes of that type of woman I guess being so vegetable-centric, “cute meets chic”, and full of natural wine haha More just a funny commentary on the vibe/crowd/what the place seems to represent in the community than anything of real importance. They really must’ve done their market research though, you’ve got to hand it to them.


i guess but i just don’t know.

People who think it’s overpriced maybe don’t realize how much that kind of sourcing increases costs, or how much more labor it takes to do so many things in-house for higher quality.


Did they tell you it didn’t? Sure seemed to me like it did.