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Carousel -- Lebanese in Glendale report

Went to Carousel today, on Brand in Glendale. Impressive. Outdoor section, "patio" section that's covered but still lots of light, and a pretty big banquet hall type that's -- as one hound put it -- "themed but not too kitschy" with pics of Lebanon and swords on the wall. A nice place, definitely not a dive.

We got the the Veggie Appetizer Combo -- everything was amazing, especially the Baba Ganoush. Then beef and lamb kebabs done yogurt style. Absolutely delicious kebabs and the yogurt was rich and minty. I can't imagine a better middle eastern restaurant in the area. We left stuffed and happy. $50 for two very full guys.

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  1. yes, i wish there was something like this on the west or west-ish side, as they do a great job with lebanese food. it puts 99.9% of the places in the usa passing as middle eastern restaurants to shame (as do a couple others in this city, fortunately)...

    1. I actually like Mandaloun a lot better, and it's just down the road. I like Carousel for what it is -- a nice, semi-formal sit-down Lebanese restaurant -- and they have some real winners on the menu (the veggie combo, for example, and the stuffed bread).

      My problem is that it's expensive for the food that we tend to order, which we can get more cheaply (and just as good-tasting) elsewhere.

      I've had some service problems, which were far enough in the past that they're probably not relevant here; they're probably still colouring my judgment on this place. (I found the service to be slow and disinterested, and had to go to the kitchen in search of my waiter at one point.)

      I suppose it's because I don't really care about fine dining atmospheres; I'm just as happy to be in a pizza parlor as a swanky Italian joint in Brentwood. If I needed a fine-dining Lebanese place (and Mandaloun were closed) I'd definitely go to Carousel.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        i don't care for fine dining for its own sake either, ubergreek, but i've had better meals at carousel than at mandaloun (which i also find excellent). you're lucky to have all those places nearby.
        it is a desert out here on the west side, when it comes to that type of food.

        1. re: epop

          not a huge "fine dining" fan either. still it's nice to find a place that you can bring the parents!

          1. re: echoparkdirt

            yes, and carousel definitely is that, as is Mandaloun. both are very good, careful places.

        2. re: Das Ubergeek

          I was of the opinion that Mandaloun was better but then I went to both in the same week a while back and I have to concede that Carousel was better across the board for everything we had that was directly comparable except for the pita which is better at Mandaloun.
          In particular, the shanklish, mouhammara, fried kibbeh, and the fattet al aubergine are all amazing at Carousel.

        3. ill check mandaloun out and report back

          1. Well, there are those on this board (you'll be hearing from them soon) who favor Marouch slightly on the food, definitely on the service (which has never been better than, well, OK at Carousel when I've been there, but I'm not a regular, and i tend to be there with only one or two other people...), but NOT on decor or location.

            BTW, anyone been to Raffi's (Glendale, on Broadway) recently? I've never been, but the location/decor's kind of nice, and they seem to do a lot of biz., though I know that prior reviews on the board were decidedly mixed...

            4 Replies
            1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

              there's a raffi's discussion from 10 days back you can search for. i personally wouldn't
              recommend it anymore. it was very overhyped, and others i know felt the same way, and they once loved it (i always thought it was only ok). i'm a tough critic though, as i've had some of the best

              1. re: epop

                where did you have this "best" in persian food? i'm persian, raffi's is my standby, but it's clearly getting trashed a bit by chowhounds... and i don't want to send my friends there if there's somewhere better to go.

                1. re: amandine

                  i haven't had a great persian meal in LA. montreal: byblos for great meals. period. or in persian kitchens and weddings.

                  look at their meat, for example. at home people would spend hours cleaning the best sirloins then grinding it then cutting fresh herbs and slowly marinating it and then grilling it on wood.

                  this stuff at raffi's or wherever is only a substitute for persian food. it doesn't taste right. i'm sure the person making it is just slapping it together with some cheapish meat.

                  1. re: epop

                    I seriously doubt that the great majority of people, whether in Iran or Canada, are able to afford either the time or the raw materials to buy the best sirloins, etc.

                    French food doesn't taste the same in France as it does in Montréal, but there is definitely French food in Montréal.

                    I haven't been to Raffi's, though I'm looking forward to trying it, but this seems to be a cousin of the "why is there New York pizza in LA" discussion.

            2. i loved this restaurant also. haven't tried mandaloun yet...

              if only there were a restaurant like these in south oc :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: junglekitte

                actually, das ubergreek, you'd be surprised by the quality of meat and the amount of time people devote to food in other parts of the world (take greece, for ex.). it isn't like here, where restaurants are the norm. great pride is taken in getting good cuts of meat, bringing them home, cleaning them, etc.

                there is a quality to persian cooking that raffi's doesn't begin to capture, and that goes for all the persian restuarants i've been to in LA or NY or chicago or philadelphia. i don't accept that i'm supposed to compromise when it comes to food, and i think that is the whole point of these discussions. great food doesn't come from those that are serving it for business purposes alone, for example. carousel and mandaloun do a far better job of representing Levantine cooking than does any Persian restaurant for its cuisine.

                1. re: epop

                  I think a big part of that lack of "quality" that persian restaurants here fail to capture... is that Persians don't really go out to have Persian food in restaurants. They have it at home, and each person tends to prefer what his/her mamanjoon makes.

                  I've heard that in Tehran, when people went out to eat, they went to eat "continental" food or French food, European or American restaurants in general. Persian was pretty much limited to chelokebab restaurants (i.e. white rice, barbecued tomatoes, lamb kebab...khoresh, tadiq, all that good stuff was home food).

                  And that's why I like Raffi's... it's the closest thing I've come to (in L.A.) that could pass as a true chelokebabi.

                  (N.B. Any Iranians out there please feel free to correct me, because this is coming second hand from my dad who grew up there.)

              2. Just ate at Marouch in Hollywood. For me, Carousel was a clear winner. Carousel is in the realm of the divine. Marouch was above average.

                1 Reply
                1. re: echoparkdirt

                  good to know, as i was thinking to try Marouch for the first time. Carousel, Mandaloun, Alcazar, Olympia and a couple more places in the valley are all very respectable places, imho.