Mid-City: Israeli Restaurant Jaffa.LA Opens Today, January 31
Modern Israeli food restaurant Jaffa.LA officially opens today, January 31, on West Third in the heart of Los Angeles. I was invited to check it out a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a run down on a few cocktails and some favorite dishes.
One of my favorites of the night was the Barley cocktail. It has both tequila and mezcal along with roasted barley. I would have never really thought about putting these together but it all married together with the turmeric and pineapple in a very thoughtful way.
Barley – tequila, mezcal, roasted barley, pineapple, turmeric
I love a good pickles plate and in this case, the bright veggies also included olives and lovely herbed goat cheese. The zatar flabread was the perfect foil for the slightly tart crunchy veg and creamy goat cheese.
Years ago I was on a dirty martini kick. But generally these days, we’re too “refined” to order such a base thing- the kind where you have never heard of that gin (or did that bar just use vodka!?) and they pour brine from the garnish tray (ew). Nope, the Olive at Jaffa is the complete opposite. You can’t compare apples to oranges. This Olive is easily in my top 5 for favorite martinis. The rosemary oil is quite genius.
Olive – gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine, rosemary oil, lemon bitters
The charred eggplant (tahina) was one of my favorite dishes from the salatim (starters) section. I loved the creamy dip, the pistachio and pomegranate seeds that gave the eggplant some tooth.
The Israeli-Californian fusion was best seen in the crudo dish. We had albacore with fennel, ginger and fresno chiles.
What I love about Mediterranean food are all the fresh veggies. The roasted beets were so good with crispy roots.
For a crunch salad, I recommend the Brussels sprouts slaw. It has a super interesting date vinaigrette along with feta and walnuts.
In the bottomless well of brown, bitter, stirred drinks rises forth this beauty with both bourbon and Jamaican rum. It doesn’t hurt that I also love figs and bergamot.
Fig – bourbon, Jamaican rum, fig, bergamot bitters
For entrees, we had the spiced dorade and lamb cous cous. Everyone loved the fish. The firm white fish was fresh and lively with flavors from tomatoes and braised artichokes. There were chile peppers in this as well but it’s not really spicy.
I’m not the biggest lamb fan but I enjoyed the lamb cous cous from Jaffa. The lamb was quite tender.
What is confusing to me as a bread non-lover was that I actually liked the kubaneh. I wanted to build little sandwich bites with this bread and the lamb.
Bar lead Aly Iwamoto has really taken a shine to using Mediterranean ingredients in her opening cocktails list. This Pomegranate sour utilizes sumac and beets to great effect with the rye and apple brandy. The beets give it a tartness normally associated with citrus. And bonus, it gives the drink a pretty color.
Pomegranate – rye, apple brandy, beet, sumac, egg white
Sometimes I hear a crazy fun word to say like fattoush and I can’t help but also say, in my bouche (mouth). Thankfully my mouth liked the tomato and pita croutons salad.
I thought the root vegetables dish was amazing- the roasted veg and maftoul (cous cous) sat atop avocado hummus and came dressed with a harissa vinagrette.
Sober January may roll into Sober February for some and to get you through that hump comes the non-alcoholic New Fashion’d. It looks just like a regular old fashioned cocktail but this one is booze free with the distilled non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip. The lapsang tea gives it an earthy, smoky flavor. Almost like a peated Islay whisky.
New Fashion’d – Seedlip Wood, lapsang tea, fig, orange oil
For dessert, we tried the hamantaschen (cookie) with marzipan and apples. It was topped with frozen yogurt and poppy seeds. I loved the flaky crust.
However, my favorite dessert of the two was the chocolate tart which turned out to be vegan! It’s made with coconut milk with an almond-oak-date crust.
I’m looking forward to going back to try more drinks! And I think this will be a fun place for brunch with the outside patio.
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