Tasting menus are the most effective way to sample a chef's specialties, aside from licking his apron at the end of the night. Nosh your way through numerous meals with today’s Groupon: for $55, you get a five-course tasting menu of Middle-Eastern fare and wine for two at Simon’s Cafe in Sherman Oaks (up to a $110.80 total value). The five courses and wine selection include:
• One combination appetizer platter (a $15.95 value)
• One Israeli salad (an $8.95 value)
• One Moroccan moist-lamb tagine (a $22.95 value)
• One couscous royale (a $24.95 value)
• One dessert (up to a $6 value)
• Two glasses of Yarden wine (a $32 value)
Simon’s Cafe, helmed by Moroccan-born chef Simon Elmaleh, tantalizes diners with an acclaimed menu of upscale Middle-Eastern cuisine that brims with authentic Mediterranean flavors. Famished diners can prime palates for five-star feasting with the combination appetizer platter, a diverse panoply of hummus, baba ganoush, matbucha, zaalouk, and falafel that emerges from the kitchen alongside fluffy fleeces of pita bread. Fancy-free forks then romp beneath the Israeli salad’s forest of freshly cut veggies, candidly cavorting as the distant bellows of waiters beckon them toward succulent cuts of lamb tagine, which is slowly cooked with dry fruits, fresh apples, and cinnamon. Served with a homemade vegetable broth suffused with a signature blend of spices, the couscous royale provides a penultimate attack on prolonged stomach growls before a saccharine epilogue of flan, chocolate mousse, or baklava assuages them into a state of gastronomical bliss.
Atmospheric track lighting casts its gauzy glow across Simon’s spacious dining area, allowing diners to readily gaze upon the wall’s imported artwork and voluminous collection of invisible sculptures as they sip on their glasses of Israeli Yarden wine.
Though Simon’s Cafe sometimes features discounts online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.
At age 14, Moroccan-born Simon Elmaleh already had a job, and it was no paper route—he was already earning his chops in the kitchen of a Mediterranean restaurant. Just two years later, he launched his 17-year career as an assistant chef on a five-star passenger cruise liner, and in 1986, he opened the first Moroccan restaurant in Japan. In 2001, he brought his decades-long passion for Mediterranean cuisine to California, where he founded Simon's Restaurant.
A Los Angeles Times writer praised the "warm atmosphere," which is decked out in rich cream-colored tones and vintage French cabaret posters. At cloth-draped tables, guests feast on traditional Moroccan tagines, spicy homemade lamb sausages, and baba ghanouj, described as "vivid—roasty and pure, whipped into a fluffy cloud of eggplant."