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Carousel Restaurant

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There have been a handful of previous posts on the Los Angeles board about the Armenian/Lebanese restaurant, Carousel, located in a mini-mall on Hollywood Blvd. just west of Normandie (5112 Hollywood Blvd.). I’ll add my accolades to those of the previous posters. I had an absolutely wonderful dinner there last night. The mezes were all delicious. In addition to individually ordered mezes, you will be given a large platter with olives, cucumber slices, scallions, jalapeno, mint, feta cheese, and turnip pickles to nibble on. The muhammara, a spicy dip made with crushed walnuts, red pepper paste, and pomegranate juice, was to die for. Pure ambrosia. Also wonderful were the maaneh, small, juicy, highly flavored Lebanese sausages, and the mousakka, eggplant with onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, and green peppers. The cabbage salad was wonderfully crisp and crunchy with a tangy, lemony dressing. The lamb and beef kebabs were fine, though nothing exceptional. I preferred the more highly seasoned lula kebab. For desert, I had Ash El Sarayya, a honeycake with rosewater, topped with thick cream and crushed pistachios. A demitasse of Armenian coffee completed the experience. With the exception of the beef and lamb kabobs, which were just fine but nothing special, all the other dishes drew “oohs” and “aahs” reflecting the pure, unadulterated pleasure they induced. Highly recommended.

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  1. I was there recently and agree 100 percent with your rec. The pomegranate muhummara especially memorable. You fail however to mention the, shall we say, funereal?, decor: plastic foliage, heavy drapes, a lot of mauve. Exotic yes but bit of a downer. Next time I go it's strictly take-out. Unless of course I'm what's being laid out cold on the table...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Rafi
      t
      Tom Armitage

      Sure, Carousel doesn't win any awards for decor. But it really didn't bother me all that much. The restaurant was clean, and the service was friendly and efficient. And the food was so damn good that I hardly noticed the lack of decor. Same with a lot of my favorite restaurants in this area, like Zankou, Vim (next door), Sanamluang, Pattaya, etc. I don't like to go the take out route, simply because I like to eat food freshly prepared. Of course, some of the cold dishes, like the memorable muhammara, or the labni, or the mutabbal, would do fine as takeouts. But hot dishes, like the maaneh or the lula kebab, would, I think, suffer. For the same reason, I prefer to eat at Zankou, despite the lack of decor, so that I won't compromise that wonderful, crispy skin on the rotisserie chicken. Put is in a bag for take out, and the steam will soften the skin, and much degrade the overall experience. When it comes to maximizing my enjoyment of the food versus maximizing my enjoyment of decor, the former wins every time.

      1. re: Tom Armitage

        Is this Carousel related to the one that is (used to be?) on Brand Boulevard in Glendale? I have been there several times and generally agree with your assessment of the food. I would add that each time the bill seemed surprisingly high for the seemingly casual family style preparations.

        1. re: Tom Armitage

          Tom, I defer to your chowhoundiosity.

          I have to confess that although I've eaten Zankou many many times, I've never actually eaten at the source, so I can only speculate about the crispy deliciousness of the hot off the press bird. Next time, I'll give it a try. I've noticed that take-out pizza grows soft in the box so it makes sense that chicken skin would likewise suffer. But aren't there some foods that actually benefit from being taken home and getting to stew in their own juices? Some spicy dishes, for example, seem to me to improve with age. Thoughts anyone?

          On the subject of mid eastern delights, I had great Lebanese last night -- take-out I'm sorry to say -- that a friend picked up at Sunnin on Westwood Bl. Everything good, especially a fava bean dish that combined a rich buttery bean-ness with a zesty lemony zing (!)...I hear Sunnin just opened a branch downtown and I can't wait to give it a try -- in-situ of course.