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Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana: MMmmmmm

o
ozhead May 7, 2009 11:10 AM

Ms. Dr. Oz, the Greater Ozlet and I had dinner at the Hummus Bar & Grill (18473 Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana) last night, at the Ozlet's suggestion -- she had eaten there once before, but it was the first time for me and Ms. Dr. Oz. We were all VERY favorably impressed.

When you sit down they bring out three little bowls -- pickles/olives, a moderately spicy cabbage salad (think kim chee, but not nearly as spicy), and whole garbonzos with tahini -- and a big round of flatbread, hot out of the oven. We nibbled on these while choosing what else to order, and ended up with the following:

Hummus with mushrooms, as an appetizer. We all thought it was the best hummus we'd ever had.

3 koubbeh, as an appetizer. Hard to describe: they look like Scotch eggs, but are beef and pine nuts wrapped in a dough and fried, served with tahini. Delicious.

The Greater Ozlet had a schwarma plate, with fries and an Israeli salad, i.e., chopped tomatoes and cucumbers (from a choice of 7 sides: fries, rice, mashed potatoes, salad, steamed vegetables, white cabbage and red cabbage).

Ms. Dr. Oz had shakshuka -- spicy tomato stew with 2 eggs poached in it, served with Israeli salad.

My plan was to order the "assortment of house salads" -- 10 to 12 little bowls of various salads, with unlimited refills. It turns out, though, that everybody at the table has to order it (which I guess makes sense). So I had a lamb skewer, which I ordered with fries and a salad. But the waitress said, "since you wanted the assortment of salads, I'll bring you one of those instead of the regular salad, if you want. We don't usually do that, but ...." So I ordered an eggplant salad. When she brought my meal, she brought out BOTH a grilled eggplant dish with tahini, AND baba ganoush -- saying "I didn't know which kind of eggplant you wanted, so ...."

We all drank water, and Ms. Dr. Oz had a cup of tea (tea bag and a big handful of mint leaves) after dinner.

All of the food was terrific, and the portions are very large -- plus they keep bringing out more bread, and on the off chance you finish your salad they bring more of that too. (I finished all of my lamb, but both of the ladies took food home.) I had been interested to see how brusque the service would be, having read that it can be; it is, after all, an Israeli place. But quite to the contrary, all of the waitstaff was very friendly, and eager to make suggestions as to what was good on the menu. Nor did any of them try to push us to order more, as I had read other commenters say they had experienced.

Price was $57 for the three of us (with tax, before tip). A significant bargain, considering how good the food was and how large the portions were. I will certainly go back -- gotta try that assortment of house salads, after all.

  1. g
    GK in SO May 7, 2009 05:45 PM

    I've eaten a lot of hummus in my time, but the hummus I had at HBG is far and away, not even close, the best, tastiest and creamiest hummus I've ever eaten.

    I mean, hummus is usually....hummus, but their's is an "other worldly" experience!

    1 Reply
    1. re: GK in SO
      o
      ozhead May 8, 2009 02:06 PM

      Agreed. All of us (including the Greater Ozlet, who has been to Israel a couple of times) said it was easily the best hummus we had ever had. We mentioned that to our waiter, who passed the compliment on to a guy I assumed was one of the owners -- name of Yossi -- who beamed with pleasure.

    2. purplescout May 8, 2009 03:36 PM

      I love this place, too. You didn't mention the dessert, which is also divine. Described in this thread from about a month ago.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609821

      1. c
        candee May 8, 2009 03:44 PM

        Although you didn't partake, do you know if they're serving beer/wine yet?

        5 Replies
        1. re: candee
          o
          ozhead May 8, 2009 04:19 PM

          Don't think so -- at least there was no wine/beer list, and neither is listed on the menu. A nice cold beer would have gone well with the food, now that you mention it.

          1. re: ozhead
            c
            candee May 9, 2009 04:44 PM

            Yeah, that's kind of a bummer and has been what kept me from going back. But your review has made me want to dive into their hummus again.....w/ a coupla cold ones in my purse........

            1. re: candee
              Servorg May 9, 2009 06:23 PM

              Maybe call them and ask if you can BYO? If they say yes, problem solved.

              1. re: Servorg
                a
                archer May 10, 2009 06:34 PM

                No problem BYO. I've done it many times. No corkage.

                1. re: archer
                  Servorg May 10, 2009 06:38 PM

                  Thanks, archer. Problem solved.

        2. westsidegal May 10, 2009 02:24 AM

          ate there tonight because of ozhead's recommendation.
          terrific food, terrific bargain, and
          OPEN UNTIL MIDNIGHT!!!!!

          fwiw, we did get the assortment of salads, and i absolutely adored the eggplant with tahini .

          thanks for the great recommendation.

          4 Replies
          1. re: westsidegal
            b
            bulavinaka May 10, 2009 07:31 AM

            Tell me if this place isn't worth the trip from the Westside, gal? :)

            1. re: bulavinaka
              westsidegal May 10, 2009 10:42 AM

              ABS0LUTELY WORTH IT!!!

              p.s. they make their fries themselves starting by peeling real potatos--i.e. they DON'T use the institutional stuff that comes frozen or the stuff that comes already cut up (and dipped in who-knows-what kind of chemicals) in big plastic bags. sadly, i didn't realize this until after i was stuffed. . . .

              1. re: westsidegal
                b
                bulavinaka May 10, 2009 10:41 PM

                Our kids will attest to that on each of our visits. They are served those fries along with their schnitzel, and are constantly battling for each and every fry to the very end.

            2. re: westsidegal
              o
              ozhead May 11, 2009 10:06 AM

              Happy to be of service.

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