Dining at Chameau last night, the transplanted Moroccan restaurant from Silverlake, I was reminded of the varied bounty L.A. has to offer and the rich recommendations this site often provides. A friend from the Board treated me to an early birthday dinner and the choice could not have been better. I must confess that my experience with this type of cuisine is somewhat limited to the early days of Dar Mahgreb and Opera but I can navigate my way around a bastilla purse or dolmas with some certainty.
Chameau's version of bastilla certainly trumps anything I've previously tried with tender shredded duck, spiced and sweetened and delivered in some of the most delicate pastry this side of a French patisserie. At $11 for an appetizer it was ample for two to share. I moved on to one of the Lamb shank preparations that included ginger, figs, almonds and cous cous. Falling off the bone, the ingredients had been stewed to perfection making it difficult to tell where one taste began and another left off. My friend's scallops in a mysterious golden 'charmoula' sauce achieved the same effect of multiple flavors with greater heat and a variety of fresh vegetables. Both entrees were well worth the $24 price tag with the accompanying cheese crusted bread a great addition.
Dessert was a luscious pistachio cream bastilla drizzled with honey and pistachios surrounded by some more of that tissue thin pastry. Served with an 'au lait' sauce similar to an anglaise, it was a bargain at $6. The short wine list is one of the best I've seen in awhile further proving that selection outshines quantity and boasting everything from a Turley Zin for $64 to a Santa Ynez SB for $28. (You have to wonder just how much better that Screaming Eagle for $7,500 is that's featured on some other lists around town.) My friend enjoyed the York pinot for $9 and the Malbec for $8. I was the non drinker and enjoyed mint tea with honey throughout (which probably explains why I've been up all night blogging).
Chameau's design is one of the best and most inviting that I've seen in awhile, frankly, outshining many of the more resume touted examples around town. Call it 50's beatnik cool meets Rick's Cafe. The attention to detail, exotic patterns and the dramatic lighting are fantastic. Service continues in the same vein with two delightful and rather minty gentleman overseeing the proceedings. They would have no trouble keeping Major Strasser busy at the bar.