by Sophie Gayot
It seems that Sam Nazarian likes to keep himself busy, and I am glad that he does. Tomorrow, Nazarian and his team will officially open Cleo restaurant in Hollywood at The Redbury hotel, just across Hollywood Boulevard from Katsuya Hollywood.
Last night, I got to discover this new spot, so I can share my first impressions. SBE corporate chef Daniel Elmalel has composed a good menu with food from around the Mediterranean basin. Strangely enough, there is no cuisine offered from Egypt, home of the original Cleo(patra). Greece and Morocco are well-represented with dishes like tatziki, moussaka, grilled octopus and couscous. For now, avoid the beef cheek tagine which needs work. Prices range from just $6, with nothing on the menu more than $16, making it a good value. The bar will draw crowds with their interesting specialty cocktails. Mix all the above and you get a great, noisy, place for the young and young-at-heart. I did have some décor issues, though. Why is there this (horrible) green on the walls? Doesn’t Cleopatra evoke gold or sand tones? Why not re-paint the room in those colors? It would give life to the room under its industrial ceiling. Strangely, there is quite a chaos of decorative elements in the room.
Nazarian wants a celebrity to smash some plates in the Greek tradition on a nightly basis. He did it himself on Sunday night during a soft opening celebration. I got the honor to do it yesterday! It was even more fun than I had anticipated.