The weirdest thing: we moved to Atwater Village, right next to Glendale, only a few weeks ago. When our New York Times weekend subscription kicked in, I eagerly opened the magazine, as I always do, checking out the food column before attempting (and failing at) the puzzle. To my total amazement, Mark Bittman’s column celebrated a restaurant not in New York or even Connecticut…it was a restaurant in California, but not just anywhere in California: GLENDALE. Right down the street from us. 7 minutes away according to Google Maps. I nearly fainted with surprise.
When I snapped to attention, I texted my friends John and Michael who live in Glendale a picture of the article. They too were excited and we made a plan to go this past Sunday, at 7:30, to Adana (that’s the name of the restaurant). And this Sunday that’s precisely what we did.
Craig and I are usually the early ones, but we got there a little late because the exit we needed off the 5 was closed. When we arrived, John and Michael had taken the liberty of ordering us appetizers: a smoky eggplant dip and stuffed grape leaves.
I’ve never really liked stuffed grape leaves, but these were truly wonderful: maybe the best I’ve ever had. They were really moist (I know some people hate the word moist, but they were) and flavor-amplified by the yogurt dip that came with it. And the eggplant dip was just as smoky as the one I make, only richer, more intense. Something else, clearly, was in there with the eggplant…the question is WHAT?
The chef, Edward Khechemyan, is heralded in Bittman’s column as a master of the kebab. “He grills slowly,” writes Bittman, “(over briquettes fired with gas, by the way), not too close to the fire, he insists, until gorgeously browned. The fire is not superhot, but it’s even — gas is good for that — and he keeps the grill grate a good six inches above the fire.”
Naturally, we heeded Bittman’s advice and ordered kebabs. Craig got beef on rice:
It may not look like much, but I can tell you each of those elements was clearly made with love. The rice was fluffy and perfectly cooked; the beef tender, though with a slight tug; and the salad refreshing and carefully assembled.
John had a kebab with ground beef:
And Michael, like me, had a kebab with chicken and dried cherry rice. So this is mine (which looks a lot like Michael’s):
I absolutely loved mine and Craig, when took a taste, declared it to be the best. I think it was too. The chicken was moist (there’s that word again!), flavorful and then the rice was buttery rich and tart from the dried cherries.
Oh, did I mention how cheap this all was? I can’t find the menu online but we’re talking around $8 or $9 for each plate of food. That’s pretty incredible, considering how good it is.
The place clearly had its share of New York Times readers in attendance. We could tell them, easily, because…well you just can. Plus a few talked about the article when the chef came around to greet the tables.
Desserts were ok, not the reason to go. Here’s a very unsweet pistachio cake with a super sweet rosewater syrup:
And a honey cake with a strange texture:
Still, dessert aside, I’m super psyched to have a restaurant this uniquely good so close to where I live. Next time I move, I’m giving Mark Bittman advance notice: he picks good places.