Chef Nadav Bashan and wife Romy opened their eponymous Mediterranean restaurant in the northernmost neighborhood of Glendale – Sparr Heights – in September 2007. Nadav has a distinguished background, having previously cooked in the kitchens at Providence and Michael’s. He’s only been a chef for ten years, resorting to culinary school after a failed attempt to become a firefighter. Romy cordially runs the front of the house.
The Bashans live in Eagle Rock, and were hoping to find a space in their neighborhood conducive to their vision, but Eagle Rock is already approaching critical mass commercially, and it couldn’t be done in an affordable way. Lucky for them, while scouring Craigslist, they spotted a familiar available space, the former home of Bistro Verdu. They remembered eating at Bistro Verdu two years ago and really liked the space. Nadav said, “We thought it would be the perfect spot, only 40 seats, where we could touch every plate that went out.” They quickly jumped on the listing and were soon restaurant owners.
For their logo, the Bashans chose a funky family tree with five pieces of orange fruit on it, the fruit representing their three children and two pets.
The north wall of Bashan holds these three pieces of driftwood, which a woodworking customer recently identified as Asian. The space also featured interesting white globe lanterns lined with jutting white rectangles that almost looked like index cards.
For our Amuse Bouche, we received a plate holding three white spoons, each holding a small portion of charred squid, punchy olive tapenade and a single chive slice. My friend John was so hungry that he couldn’t wait for me to take this photo.
Since Nadav Bashan last cooked at Providence, we correctly guessed he’d know how to prepare and source seafood. Seared Barramundi ($28) was accompanied by roasted quarter-sized cuts of Jerusalem artichoke, an underappreciated and underused root vegetable that’s nothing like a regular artichoke. The plate was also strewn with cipollini onions, roasted whole until sweet and browned, along with cubes of chorizo and quartered shrimp. Barramundi is native to the waters off Northern Australia and tastes similar to sea bass. The generously-portioned fillet featured crispy skin and flaky white flesh. The plate was dotted with a green herb-infused oil. This was one of the more thoughtful and delicious seafood dishes in recent memory.
A crisp skinned fillet of rosy-hued Columbia River Steelhead Trout ($24) was plated on slabs of tender braised daikon. The opposite end of the plate held a mix of bacon, Buna-Shimeji mushrooms, tomatoes and scallions. The center of the plate was lashed with garlic ginger puree, which added a subtle bite.
We shared a bottle of 2002 Vache Pinot Noir from California’s Cienega Valley, a wine producing region I’d never heard of before. Turns out it’s in the middle of California, a no man’s land between the 101 and 5 freeways. The pinot noir was incredibly smooth and well-balanced, with no tannic kick or after-burn.
There were only three dessert options on the AFTER DINNER menu, plus an Artisan cheese plate. We skipped the coffee panna cotta with dulce de leche and alfajor. I ordered Braised Gala Apples ($7) with mascarpone cream and cranberry puree. I’ve had many versions of this dessert, including at Bistro Verdu, and this version, while deconstructed, was much better. This layered disc of pastry was supple and moist, served warm and topped with a scoop of mascarpone ice cream. The plate was decoratively plated with brush strokes and dots of cranberry puree. To the right of the puff pastry was a pile of braised apple logs, naturally sweet and delicious.
Chocolate Bread Pudding ($7) was plated with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and both squiggles and streaks of chocolate sauce. The square of bread pudding was absolutely saturated with chocolate, but not soggy in the least. It looked like a brownie, but was much softer and not nearly as rich.
With our check, we recieved a plate holding a tiny coconut macaroon for each of us. It was a simple but satisfying touch with a subtle liquor kick.
Although the Bashans’ Mediterranean influenced restaurant has only existed for two months, Nadav’s deft use of premium ingredients at a reasonable price point has ensured that the family-run restaurant can already compete with most of the heavy hitters on the Westside.