The Find: Mantee in Studio City, Lebanese-Armenian fare done right
Like a classic storybook bistro, with smart burgundy awnings, lacy curtains and flower boxes at the windows, Mantee exudes a warm and welcoming aura. So why is the small dining room so empty?
Because most diners at this diminutive Lebanese-Armenian restaurant are eating out back in the impossibly romantic leaf-shaded patio, where lush potted plants are massed in every corner under the golden light of Parisian-style iron street lamps. And the guests? They're partying like there's no tomorrow.
Laughter floats through the air. Tables are spread edge to edge with mezes and other small plates: the best hummus you've ever tasted scattered with sautéed pine nuts; stuffed grape leaves with garlicky yogurt sauce; muhammara, the spicy dip of crushed walnuts, pomegranate and Aleppo pepper; and plates of bubbling feta baked in tomato coulis.
It turns out Mantee has a bit of a pedigree. The proprietor's family owns several internationally known eating places in the Near East. The family's Beirut restaurant, Al Mayass (they are proud to tell you) made it onto Food & Wine magazine's prestigious "Go List" of outstanding recommended restaurants worldwide.
To read the rest of Linda Burum's story, click here.
Photo: Baguette rounds are topped with thinly sliced basturma and a quail egg. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times