Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Favorite Lebanese (Cedar House)

My Facebook status after my first visit to Cedar House read something like "Finally, something good to come out of North Hollywood."

It's near my office, and a few of us hit it up for lunch on a lark. They're not busy during the day, so we were in and out in good time (the food isn't "fast," but fast enough).

The ambiance is comfortable and bright, and the Lebanese music makes you want to get up and dance ... which you probably don't want to do during dinner because you'll be competing with the professional belly dancers.

The kibbeh is pretty rocking -- perfectly tender and moist inside with a crisp crust. Still not on par with my grandmother's, but better than I've had most anywhere else. My cohorts had never partaken, but I made believers of them all.

Someone said the place was voted among the top five places in LA for hummus. I'm not sure it outdoes nearly everyone else in the city, but that IS some good hummus. The real surprise was the baba ganoush -- so light, great texture, good garlic punch.

We were joking about how their menu says the chicken is "expertly seasoned," but after trying the chicken shawarma and chicken salad, we conceded. I'd recommend getting the dressing on the side with their salads -- it's really thick and heavy.

I was a little let down by the beef & lamb shawarma. The beef was good, but the lamb tasted like it had been marinating too long and had broken down a bit too much.

Shawarma comes with a dollop of garlic sauce -- this is not the smooth, savory garlic sauce of Zankou ... it's PUNGENT. The garlic is raw and chunky. It's good, but you've got to have a strong disposition to handle it.

Prices on their sandwiches are $7-8, not bad for lunch. Plates are up around $15, but you get a ton of food -- you'll have leftovers for lunch the next day.

They're right across the river from the old hospital where they used to tape "Scrubs." I asked one of the waitresses if the cast ever used to come over to the restaurant. She said no, but I get the feeling she had no idea what I was talking about.

Find 'em at
4805 Whitsett Ave.
North Hollywood, CA 91607

See it on Yelp!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Cha Cha Cha

We hit up Brazilian classic Cha Cha Cha the other night.

I'll go three stars out of five because my spidey sense tells me we didn't catch the kitchen on their best night. Prices were reasonable (and I don't mean LA reasonable)

The funky little dining room is cute, if not overly comfortable. We felt genuinely welcomed by the extremely friendly service, from our great server to the manager.

The goat cheese quesadillas would have been too strong without the welcomed spread of guava inside to cut the dairy. Try their vegetarian empenadaditas; they're crispy, doughy inside, and so comforting.

The downturn came with our entrees. Rice and beans came on the side of both our dishes. The rice was nominal. Beans were watery. My pork chops sounded good with the apricot sauce, but they were presented thin (menu said double cut) and overcooked. The sauce was tasty, but full of too much dried rosemary. The flavor was overpowering, and the leaves were too dry to chew.
cha cha cha pork chops
My girlfriend's gambas negras shrimp tasted a little fishy. The black pepper sauce was good, but if I'd had more than a bite, I think it might have started to get too strong.

I really wanted to love the place. Maybe I'll go back for breakfast sometime -- the banana French toast looked good.

Be aware, there's not much street parking, which forces you to use their valet.