It would be easy to look Alex Sarkissian, the owner of the new Mediterranean restaurant Momed in Beverly Hills, and reduce him to his former title as an executive at Dolce and Gabbana.
It would be easy to look at the casual space with its pristine glass cases showcasing heaping platters of deli salads and dips like an addictive Muhammara made of roasted red pepper, walnuts and pomegranates and reduce the restaurant and marketplace to another Joan’s on Third.
And it would be easy to take a bite of the Baleela, the warm chickpea mezze plate with toasted pine nuts, preserved lemon and brown butter ($8.), or the Duck “Shawarma” with oven dried tomatoes, fig confit and garlic spread on a house-made whole wheat pita ($14.), and reduce the dining experience to those two dishes.
Because they are appallingly good. Almost too good for a streamlined cafe that appears to be ideally suited for those who want to grab their food to go without the burden or time commitment of a true “dining experience.” Even today, it’s tempting to look back on my hosted meal at Momed last Thursday evening and only remember the way the brown butter devilishly hugged each warm chickpea, or the way the tender ribbons of pulled duck confit in the shawarma arrested my tongue with a punch of intense meaty flavor.
Yet to do so – to see Momed through narrow eyes – would be a disservice to the vision that Alex and Executive Chef Matt Carpenter (Bin 8945, Bastide, Josie) have created in their little inconspicuous corner of Beverly Hills. Momed isn’t just another forgettable cafe on the well-heeled stretch of Beverly Drive that also houses Urth Cafe, Frida and Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse, among others.
Forgettable cafes don’t have stories – like how owner Alex was inspired to create the Baleela mezze after discovering the dish on one of his trips to Lebanon. Forgettable cafes don’t put as much thought into their specialty loose leaf tea and Intelligentsia and Turkish coffee menu as they do into their wine list that features general manager Vasilis Tseros’ shrewd selections from Greece, Israel and Lebanon like a velvety 2003 Chateau Kefraya Gold Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Bekka Valley in Lebanon. And forgettable cafes don’t have Alex and Matt’s passion lurking behind every plate – from the wood burning-oven grilled Pide (Turkish flatbread) with oven-roasted wild mushrooms, Coleman Family Farms’ spigarello and Akawi cheese, to the delicately dressed red quinoa salad with prodigious orange segments.
Momed isn’t just a place to “grab-and-go” or to gawk at the Louis Vuitton-toting “ladies who lunch” with their oversized sunglasses and oversized bank accounts as they stroll through the 90212. While both activities are a conceivable option at the restaurant, when I go back, I’m going back for the full dining experience – complete with buttery chickpeas, duck “shawarma,” wine, Hammam rooibos tea, and cashew baklava to finish. I might even open my eyes wide enough to spring for a slice of the date bread pudding too. It would be negligent of me not to.
233 S. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212