Tucked into the last few hundred yards of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, Mantee, a Lebanese Restaurant, sits proudly, as a heavy weight contender, un-intimated by its fiercest rivals. Chef Jonathan Darakjian and family bring a special gift to the bout, full of focus and determination. The non-pretentious location leads way to a tranquil, inviting outdoor dining experience capable of transporting you far off.
Chef Jonathan maintains the strictest of standards when it comes to quality and freshness. All ingredients are hand selected and made from scratch (salads chopped to order), while adhering to a completely healthy cooking regimen. The menu is straight forward with a complexity of flavors making it very welcoming for people looking to expand their culinary reach while keeping authenticity on the forefront.
The Meze (meh-ZAY) are small dishes, when eaten collectively, they are practically a full meal. With a plethora of hot and cold options, they make delightful company to any entrée.
Mohammara, a spread made from crushed walnuts, red pepper paste and pomegranate molasses. This thick, flavorful mix makes a perfect partner to anything it touches.
The garden fresh tone of the Bamia, okra tenderly cooked in tomato sauce with a stew like consistency, is hearty enough for any vegetarian.
The Labne Toom is a delicious thick yogurt dip that is blended with fresh garlic, dry mint and extra virgin olive oil to make a cooling and creamy masterpiece. When paired with the spicy green Olive Salad in tomato mint sauce, it evokes a match made in heaven, ying-yang in full force.
While almost every culture has a form of “dumpling”, the Mantee “Traditional” is Armenian comfort food. These baked, crisped, meat-stuffed pockets (veggie available) are a sheer delight. The Mantee “Traditional” is served with a tomato-based broth mixed with garlic yogurt sauce then topped with sumac, a Middle Eastern spice. This dish will undoubtedly keep your fork going back for more.
The main entrée and specialties are a knock-out. A nice selection of kebabs and traditional favorites include the Chef’s special, Mantee’s perfectly seasoned ground beef Kebob with a sweet, sour cherry sauce. Or try the Queens Delight – tender pieces of filet mignon with the same cherry goodness. The combo of tastes unify, as every bite of meat acts as a sponge absorbing the sauce. Another tempting special is the Basterma, baguette slices served with Armenian pastrami and Quail egg.
In the near future, an excellent jab, Mantee, will be offering a variegated selection of beer and wine featuring a mélange from Lebanon, its environs, and beyond.
The Bottom Line – Apps $4-$8, Entrees-$8-$17, warm and cozy with an uber-relaxing outdoor patio. A kind, attentive and knowledgeable staff. A culinary adventure where the love of food is delivered in every bite. Mantee is located at 10962 Ventura Blvd. in dio City. For more information, please visit www.manteecafe.com.
Los Angeles born and raised, Scott Putman is the principal of PROFITdine, a restaurant financial advisory firm specializing in assisting independent operator’s success. www.profitdine.com.