This weekend my husband and I hit up Carousel, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Glendale, to sample their new vegan menu. The dining area is open and well manicured, and they also have a patio in front of the restaurant, which was just right for an early dinner.
Before you’re seated, you’ll want to ask for their vegan menu, because it’s not part of their standard menu. Also good to note, while the menu says that it’s their Lent menu, they will be continuing with it even after Lent. I was really excited as I perused it. There are a variety of unique options in addition to typical mainstays. It was difficult to choose.
Warm pita bread and a tart cabbage salad come with every meal in addition to a tray of carrots, cucumbers, turnip pickles, and olives. This tray also comes with Lebanese cheese, and so you’ll want to request no cheese on your tray. (Despite making the request, ours still arrived with cheese on it, but the runner quickly returned it and brought back another tray, subbing tomato slices instead of cheese, which was a nice touch.) I noticed that there was another menu item that included cheese as well, and so even though it’s listed as a vegan menu, it’s good to let the server know that you want a fully vegan meal.
We landed on sharing the Spinach Fatayer and Vegetarian Delight. The Spinach Fatayer, which consists of lemony spinach, onions, and pine nuts wrapped in a warm pocket of dough, was perfectly warm, pilowy, and tart. The bite of the bright, lemon-soaked spinach was the perfect complement to the bread dough. I could have eaten many more than just my half of the order if I didn’t think my husband would have protested.
The Vegetarian Delight is big enough for two to share and a good way to sample a variety of their more common dishes: hammos (a.k.a. hummus), mutabbal (a.k.a. baba ghanoush), tabbule’ (a.k.a. tabouli), muhammara, and sarma (a.k.a. dolmas). It also comes with a choice of sides: bulgur wheat pilaf, potato fries, or a vegetable medley. We opted for the bulgur wheat pilaf, which was light, dotted with chickpeas, and a delicious companion for their exceptionally creamy hummus. Their garlicky red pepper and walnut muhammara, a combination of spicy and savory, rivaled my favorite homemade muhammara. The mutabbal, a smoky eggplant dip, had just the amount of smokiness and was creamy, dense, and not watery. The lemony parsley extravaganza that is tabouli was fresh and flavorful. I prefer my sarma (stuffed grape leaves) a little more densely packed than the ones at Carousel and I wish they offered whole wheat pita bread, but those things are both really minor. What can I say? Everything was delicious.
Everyone that helped us, from the host to the runner, was extremely professional and attentive without being obtrusive. The ambience is warm and inviting, and the portion sizes were generous. I look forward to going back and trying out more on the menu. I’m glad they plan on keeping it around after Lent.
On Friday and Saturday nights in the late evenings they have a belly dancing show and music, which has a dress code, a limited menu, and a cost of around $40 per person. I’m not sure if the vegan menu is available at that time, and so if you plan on going after 9:30 pm on a Friday or Saturday, that’s something you may want to check on.
Carousel is located at 304 N. Brand Boulevard in Glendale on the main strip. There is metered parking in front of the restaurant, in addition to a nearby lot that offers 90 minutes free on the corner of Orange and California.