"The first thing you need to know is we aren't a Turkish restaurant—in fact, we're very much the opposite," Sara Kramer tells us, gesturing to the sun-soaked dining room in her month-old (not Turkish) restaurant. "We want that to be apparent from the moment you look at the menu—that's why we have a 'salad-y' section, not a 'meze' section, and a Turkish-ish Breakfast."
Even before we tasted the Turkish-ish Breakfast—which we made a point of doing within a week of the restaurant opening—we knew we'd love it. Kismet is the joint-venture of Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson of Grand Central Market's Madcapra and the team behind Jon and Vinny's (which, if you ask Emily and Geoffrey, has the best salad in the city). In other words, if we could draft a dream team to create our ideal restaurant, this would be it.
"I come from an Israeli background, so [Middle Eastern] cuisine feels really close to my heart," Kramer explained as the inspiration behind the concept, "but people aren't really giving a facelift to it—they're doing a lot of American, French, Spanish, and Italian, but Middle Eastern has been largely untapped until now. It's also the type of food I most want to eat and make."
Among the Middle Eastern-inspired "Freekah Polenta," a za'atar squash tart, and lots of labneh and tahini, the crowning glory of their breakfast menu is the Turkish-ish Breakfast. The description of it is vague and meme-inspired ("All the things, served with bread & greens"), but spot on. It really does include "all the things" we want at ten in the morning: soft-boiled eggs, crunchy, barely dressed greens, hearty barbari bread, labneh, cheese. In Kramer's words: "It's an array of little things you have to pick at. Sarah and I love being able to have variety of a lot of little things at the table, and it lends itself really well to family-style dining."
Kismet's version is unmissable—really, add it to your list if you ever find yourself in L.A.—but it's also incredibly easy to make at home. "All it takes is leftovers," Kramer said, "Just plate samples of whatever you had for dinner, and always have some yogurt, cheese, and olives on hand." But if you're looking for a recipe(ish), here's how to make Kismet's Turkish-ish Breakfast at home*:
*You can include as many or as few of these components are you prefer—Kramer plans to change Kismet's menu based on what's available at the farmers market that morning, and encourages you to do the same.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add an egg to it so that it's completely submerged. Boil for six minutes, then remove the egg with a slotted spoon and submerge into an ice bath (or run it under a cold faucet for several seconds). Peel, then add the egg to a small bowl and cut it in half. Add a hearty pinch of smoked sumac, a tiny pinch of Aleppo chile, and a glug of good olive oil.
Roast delicata squash until it's lightly caramelized and can be easily pierced-through with a fork. Top with feta (Kismet uses a rich but subtly flavored sheeps' milk feta) and a fruit molasses. Kismet makes their own pomegranate and apple molasses (pictured here), but you can find pomegranate molasses at most Middle Eastern and gourmet food stores.
In a small bowl, combine your favorite pickled vegetables. Here, they added spicy radish, beets, cucumbers, and cauliflower.
Cut six Persian cucumbers into roughly bite-sized pieces. Marinate in a lemon and herb paste (combine olive oil and lemon juice with diced garlic, thyme, and mint, to taste) up to overnight. Serve with mint leaves over a dollop of thick labneh.
Before opening Madcapra, Kramer and Hymanson were chefs in Brooklyn, but fortunately for us they've found what they call an "amazing community with a strong network" in Los Angeles. It only makes sense then that they source their barbari bread from Bub and Grandma's Bread, but if you want to make your own, this recipe from Brooklyn's Hot Bread Kitchen is a favorite of Leslie's. It's the perfect thing to scoop up spicy Zhoug with.
Combine rinsed and dried butter lettuce and whatever herbs you can get your hands on—mint, parsley, nasturtium leaves—in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, make a white wine vinaigrette (roughly one part white wine vinegar to three parts good olive oil, plus salt and pepper). Toss with the greens so that they're just barely dressed—you want the flavor of the lettuce and herbs to still shine through.
"What isn't on these olives?" Kramer asks before diving into an extensive list of what is: orange juice, orange peel, olive oil, vinegar, Aleppo, herbs, thyme, and harissa.
Fruit is an integral part of any Turkish breakfast—you'll often find figs, tomatoes, pomegranate, and preserves on a platter in Istanbul—but Kismet serves dried dates (pits in) to counter-act the briny olives.
Here's how to get Kismet's look at home: