KISMET is a locally sourced, contemporary bistro turning in food savvy Angelenos. Brisk, unpretentious, yet unique, past the star-studded boulevard on its quieter strip, at KISMET Eastern Mediterranean traditional cuisines meet contemporary expression. The James-Beard Award nominee stamps abundant vegetarian choices over spare animal protein on its creatively and nutritionally balanced menu. Still, vegans move on (Moby’s plant-based restaurant is not far) since dairy is a staple in the authentic Israeli, Persian and Turkish cuisines from whose culinary traditions KISMET whipps mouth-watering adaptations.
KISMET invites East Hollywood into its noodle-stretched, naturally hued dining room cum counter bar that with your stride melts into an open kitchen. A neighborhood eatery, you arrive to truly enjoy the ingredients-zoomed food at your leisure. Creative, talented, working crowd of all ages communally munches in its light, polished wood-clad, and minimalist room. Simple flowers crown each table and random plant pots pop along the walls.
Unlike the nearby, hip SQIRL, there are no day-cutting lines. We welcomed the proper, old-school reservations. After the strenuous drives around LA, comfort with one’s food is key to sanity. Urban life calls for efficiency for a smooth ride.
CREATIVITY WITH COMFORTING FAMILIARITY AT KISMET
It is said that our tech-age, gunned with rarely ceasing stimulation, demands constant newness. Yet, human biological cravings also seek the familiar. Welcome, at KISMET most of the menu morphed into staples. Since the opening, we went three times so far, retasting old favourites and sampling those left yet to be discovered.
One of the repeats, the crisp Tokyo turnips with looots of raw golden butter are better ordered with the house barbari bread, a focaccia-like savory sponge. One just cannot eat a log of soft butter in one meal, so share it as most of the dishes. Preserved lemon, fresh oregano and toasted crushed cumin sprinkle curates the otherwise simple, you-would-have-never-served-it-that-way plate. Also indulgent are the Freekeh fritters covered in fluffy strings of cheese with a pickley green sauce dip. The ancient cracked wheat replaces chickpeas in this falafel-like nibble. Starting with a long strained, dense rosewater labneh with parsley seed za’atar or the outstanding, luscious tahini with green or spicy condiments like Israeli zhoug, order either the barbari or the flaky Middle-eastern bread.
Seasonal playfulness enters the game, suitably altering the menu. The most refreshing starter – Persian cucumbers included sweet, ripe persimmons in fall, in April fresh mint and za’atar spiced it up. Both perfect renderings over the sesame-rich tahini.
Not just the “SALAD-Y” bowls of seasonal bounty, decadent in most preparations, the “DISHES” are mostly veggies too. The wholesome Carrots roasted with chickpeas, spices, cilantro in an almond broth warmed us up. An evolved Kabocha squash was served in a chickpea curry, peanuts, with citrus and aleppo pepper. Infused with Japanese nuances, the spring-fresh Oyster mushrooms, leeks, bloomsdale spinach, pickled prune and yuzu cream, called for a side dish balancer. The granate-red barberries topped Jeweled crispy rice worked with almost any plate. Comfort squared, hiding a melting egg yolk inside, the baked delicacy radiates a strong Iranian influence on the menu.
In the meaty realm, a must order to start are the Lemony chicken and pine nut pies. Served golden, the two flaky triangles were stuffed with the minced bird in the Moroccan pastilla style, the coating of sesame and addition of a creamy tahini bed enriched the pastry. Buried under generous greenery of fresh parsley, these snacks are lighter than most and perfect for sharing.
I recommend the juicy plate of steamy clams in a broth with canelini beans and spinach or mussels when on the menu and the fat-streaking lamb belly for ketogenic dieters. Living in the desert area, a rabbit on the menu is a sustainable choice. There are way too many bunnies running around Southern California, and if the coyotes cannot keep their numbers in check, then chefs should. KISMET cues to “go big” with the whole rabbit for two. The “feast” includes a flaky bread, seasonal greens, house pickles and the unique Eastern-Med twist of tahini and labneh. No need for extra sides, still, the indulgent jeweled rice is too good to miss.
KISMET does lunch (until 5pm) and weekend brunches too. A twist on granola, toasts with Bub and Grandmother’s superb bread, egg shakshuka, and “honestly, the best scone”, the recipe of which changes daily. Curious as a former Londoner, I got a perfectly crumbly blackberry scone with an orange zest labneh, to go. A few minutes later thumbing it up with joyous mouthfuls.
For a breakfast-y feast order the “Turkish-ish” have-it-all assortment of mezzes for a pre-hike fuel or as a shared adventure. Lettuce, herbs, Persian cucumbers with house labneh, tip-top marinated olives, spicy Israeli zhoug to dip in the corners of the springy barberi bread, a soft-boiled egg in spicy olive oil, delicate crumbled feta with sweet grapefruit over roasted marinated tomatoes, spinach and cheese dip and dried dates round it sweetly up. It was not too heavy for American standard, so the two of us added a luxurious, sesame crust sourdough, toasted and soaked in moist labneh, all piled up with tenderstem broccoli, spices and fresh mint leaves. It was less messy than it looks as the sharp knife cut through easily.
An evening dim invites candle lights in ushering in a cosy meal.
The qualitative consistency of the food at KISMET is impressive. The trio of desserts recently included a Bay leaf custard. The perfect balance between unique, not too sugary (salted caramel), light (rhubarb) dessert spiced with a dash of black pepper. Almond eyed cookies are served with tea or coffee after the meal.
The beverages focus on natural wines that the passionate team loves. These low-intervention wines, with a minimum added sulphur, oak, chemical vineyard treatments address authentic winemakers. From the concise (one page), laser-focused list. We ordered a glass of dry Hungarian Furmint from Tokaj, some off-the-beaten path American loves, while a bottle of the Austrian Gut Oggau one evening, and a Macon from Southern Burgundy another as a better value than its grand cru Northern cousins.
Natural wine workdays (noon-6pm) highlight three changing wines by the glass $10 each or a half glass of all three for $15 to taste more for less. North American apple wine is included for a local quirky twist. I had my taste in Charleston once (anything from blueberry through cherry wine), but I prefer grapes.
For nonalcoholic sips, tap water is free, aromatic rosewater lemonade (can be blended into a spritz) and a tulsi (sweet basil) tisane from San Francisco’s superb Song Tea get a non-caffeine hydration. Sugar-free iced and hot teas from New York’s organic Tay Tea and coffee by Parlor, a Brooklyn hip roaster boost you up. The Turkish style coffee served on the rocks was popular at lunch.
If you do not live nearby, then make the drive worth either by coming on weekends when the traffic is more lose or before a show at the Greek Theatre or the Hollywood Bowl. These concert venues are minutes drive from KISMET and this is how how we make our LA stay more enjoyable. Uber helps when wine is involved.
Weekdays: 11am-10pm Weekends: 10am-10pm
+1 323 409 0404
4648 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027