For former investment banker George Abou-Daoud, weighing risk and cost-benefit analysis was all part of the game. But he decided to take a gamble when his friend challenged him to open a restaurant of his own. The NYC native welcomed the bet and opened The Bowery along Sunset Boulevard in 2005, when the gastropub movement was beginning to crest.
Safe to say it was a shrewd move. Since then, the chef and restaurateur has built a formidable empire with eight restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including Delancey, The Mission Cantina, and The Mercantile. For his latest venture, Abou-Daoud headed to the Eastside to open a modern Lebanese-inspired restaurant in the heart of Silverlake called Bowery Bungalow, just a hop, skip, and jump from Intelligentisa and the Sunset Junction. It will occupy the longtime cottage space that for decades belonged to neighborhood institution Sompun Thai.
“The owners were looking to retire,” says Abou-Daoud. “I saw a good opportunity here. I love the Silverlake area and the creative people it attracts.”
Born to a Lebanese mother and Egyptian father, Abou-Daoud grew up eating baked aubergine, kibbeh, roast lamb, and other traditional dishes. And while we’ll see hints of these traditional items on the menu, Abou-Daoud is re-framing their context: chicken musakhan served over yorkshire pudding, crispy chicken skin and beef tenderloin grilled over Binchotan coals, and other modern updates of Levantine, North African, and Mediterranean cuisine. Think of it as a companion piece to nearby Arax, not a replacement.
“I’ll be changing the menu often and seasonally,” says Abou-Daoud, who has an herb garden outback to grow things like marjoram, sorrell, jute mallow, purslane, and mint. The house smoker will be used for the pork belly (glazed in fenugreek syrup), lamb, and lentils for a version of mujadarra. Beer and wine are available, as well as outdoor patio seating and an indoor bar.
Bowery Bungalow, 4156 Santa Monica Blvd., Silver Lake