Finally, The Goldster's weekly review is up (better late than never) and today he focuses on six-monther, Mantee. Cutting right to the chase he writes, "Whatever sort of Lebanese restaurant you may be thinking of at the moment, Mantee is the other kind, a tiny, stuffy café near the eastern end of Ventura Boulevard, not too far from the studios but a million miles from the brash good cheer of places like Carnival and Skaf’s." At first glance he is dubious, describing the restaurant as "claustrophobic" and "overdecorated," with "murderous sub-decorator chairs, a plague of houseplants and a wash of appalling music." Yikes, not off to the best start. "The first time I walked into the restaurant, I would have bolted if the friends I was meeting weren’t already seated on the patio."
But, the food shines through chaotic aesthetic: "The hummus is complexly nutty, expressing the round, toasty taste of chickpeas instead of concealing it with sesame paste, and it’s even better sprinkled with Lebanese pine nuts fried in olive oil. In the fattouch, the fried shards of pita bread are tossed with fresh mint and slightly astringent leaves of purslane instead of the usual assortment of lettuces, and the simple dressing of oil and lemon juice quivers with the tartness of sumac. The house-made lebne has a creamy depth of flavor you may never have experienced in yogurt." That being said, Gold concedes Mantee may not be better than Alcazar or Marouch, but "the flavors have an edge quite unlike anything else in town." [LAW]