LA is the type of city where a new, hot, all-the-rage, hard-to-get-into restaurant seems to open up every week.  I feel like every time I’ve covered them all, ten new ones have appeared and I’m outta the loop again.  What’s a girl to do?  I mean, there’s only so many fabulous meals and bottles of wine I can drink, guys.  I have limits.

Just kidding!

So my friend AJ Buckley was having a birthday, and he was kind enough to invite us to celebrate with him at Cleo, one of SBE’s latest ventures at the Redbury Hotel in Hollywood.  Since we were going to be a raucous group of 20+, we were given access to their private lounge/dining room upstairs.  The room is everything you would expect from the SBE group– modern, swanky, glamorous, and au courant, but with a discernibly warmer, cosier vibe than the other SBE restaurants I’ve been to. Like if a Kardashian and John Corbett had a baby type of dining room.  Make sense?  Nope? Stay with me.

First off, their cocktail menu is out of control.  At $14 a pop, they aren’t cheap, but listen to this: a “Medusa’s Bite” is a lethally delicious combination of Hennessey Black Cognac, Domaine Canton, lemon, crushed grapes, and ginger ale. Or how about a “Mediterranean Margarita” with in-house made fresh fig almond syrup?  Or a “Honey Citrus Sidecar” with agave nectar and yuzu juice?  Talk about elegantly wasted.

After a couple of those bad boys, we settled down to eat.  Our (great-lookin’) server appeared, dressed handsomely in black and white, complete with artfully disheveled bow-tie, and got to work on listing some recommendations for the table.  Cleo’s whole schpeel is modern Mediterranean- hence the name, and the ginormous picture in the dining room of a freaky-looking Theda Bara dressed as Cleopatra- so the menu included small plates and things to share like tagines, Greek salads, flatbreads, kebabs, and lots of yummy-sounding dips to put your pita in. Since it all sounded so good, and since our waiter seemed to have such a great (lookin’) head on his shoulders, we decided to entrust him to decide for us.

First up were some of those dips: hummus with tahini, lebaneh (Greek-style yogurt cheese) with feta, and a htipi, a creamy, sharp cheesy spread.  And of course, some dreamy Laffa bread cooked in a wood-burning oven and served hot in a little paper sack.  Yes, please!  Next up were the flatbreads, perfect little pizzas cooked on naan-like bread, each one better than the next: Merguez sausage, caramelized onion and smoked mozzarella.  Artichoke with crushed potato and wilted arugula. Seasonal mushrooms with gruyere.  Simple, approachable, and addictive as hell.  Our last round was a refreshing baby beet salad with candied walnuts and pomegranate vinaigrette, some tender smoky chicken kebabs, a beautiful piece of grilled hangar steak, saffron rice, and the best- not lying- brussel sprouts I have ever, ever had.  Even Matt, who likes brussel sprouts about as much as I like golf, totally adored them.  To be honest, I think the brussel sprouts were the first things to be devoured at that table.  A flippin’ brussel sprout! Okay, I’m done.

Yes, Hollywood hot spots can be annoying, and pretentious, and ridiculously scene-y.  But Cleo isn’t one of them.  It’s a beautiful, glamorous restaurant with comforting, delicious, approachable, and even relatively affordable food. The most expensive item we had was the hangar steak at $15, and although their dishes are considered tapas, their portions aren’t laughable, unlike some other tapas restaurants in town. You’ll leave satisfied, with money to spare (unless you get into those cocktails– but they are worth it). Hype or no hype, Cleo’s food speaks for itself.  And that flatbread is speaking to me right now.  In Greek.

Oh yeah, and happy birthday, AJ!













35 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    Wow! That sounds incredible, thanks for sharing!

  2. Lindsay says:

    I made the mistake of reading this after I ate dinner…now I am hungry all over again! ^____^

    I am very intrigued about the brussel sprouts because I really don’t like ’em. Mind you, a great sauce can make or break just about anything!

    Those pricey cocktails sound very enticing! Definitely worth trying at least one! 😛


    P.S. Yay for pictures!!!

  3. Maggie says:

    Those flatbreads look delicious, but I am 3000 miles away from them! That’s no good!

  4. pennyandrusty says:

    Definitely one of the best food blogs I’ve read and it keeps getting better (thanks for the pictures)! Too bad you’re down in california, would have loved to seen what you would have to say about some places in Vancouver. Keep up the good work!

  5. Jen says:

    Sounds fabulous. I know what I’ll be making for supper tomorrow night.

  6. Steph says:

    That looks so yummy! I’ll have to make a trip there the next time I visit my friend in L.A.

  7. Tallulah says:

    Wow. Sounds fantastic 🙂 But a really bad idea to read this now when all there is to eat in the house is a ham sandwich or tinned tuna 🙁
    Also – if me and my friends found a place with amazing $14 cocktails, we’d be there every Saturday night. Hooray for Australian alcohol tax.

  8. Dani says:

    I’m loving your blog! It’s not often that this Mississippi gal gets to indulge like that…so living vicariously through your adventures is just what the doctor ordered! 🙂

    I’m not a brussel sprout fan at all, but I’m intrigued by the idea of amazing brussel sprouts at Cleos. They may have to go on the bucket list! Those cocktails sound great too!

  9. Eridani says:

    Love the pictures! That flatbread looks amazing.

  10. Kevin says:

    Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing. I Especially loved the pictures including the menu shot! You can always tell the foodies… they’re the ones taking pictures of the food and the menu 🙂

  11. VampD says:

    I need a napkin to clean the drool from my keyboard. Thanks!

  12. RobinInSeoul says:

    Ooooo, that beet salad sounds nommy!

  13. slamaina says:

    This sounds yummy. I am going to go my next trip to LA.


  14. Harlan says:

    Sounds fantastic, the flatbread looks delicious.
    Its great that you have pictures up now as well!

  15. Beth says:

    Timing is everything. I have reservations at Cleo for tomorrow night. I chose it because we were looking for someplace new and different (The picture of Theda Bara on the website didn’t hurt either), but it sounds like I made the right choice! Sweet!

  16. Dave says:

    Another story well told! But, how ya keepin’ your shape, with all this eatin’? Please note: I did say you were keeping your shape… 😉

  17. Vero says:

    Wouldn’t it be a great and adventurous experience to travel to Oslo and blog about Norwegian food? There’s some tasty Italian restaurants here! Or how does elk burger sound?

  18. Dangerboy says:

    Sounds great, if I’m ever that way again I’ll try the place out. As for the Medusa’s Bite, I’ll be making that in my bar this weekend, promise.
    Thanks for sharing!

  19. fojoy says:

    The flatbread looks amazing…but the drinks? Yes, Please!

  20. LoboSolo says:

    You should see if you can get a recipe for those brussel sprouts (and the flatbread) and post it. I’m always looking to try something new.

    You used the word “actresses”! I thought that only language buffs like me remembered the feminine form since it is so rarely hear nowadays.

  21. wagdog says:

    I do love a good cocktail!

  22. LoboSolo says:

    That should be “so rarely heard” …

  23. Hey, you socialize with an actor who works for the other side (vampire diaries)? How dare you…
    (just kidding).

  24. By the way:
    “Yes, Hollywood hot spots can be [..] scene-y”
    Get rid of the “-“, and you are all Jossy again.

  25. Sulien says:

    All of that food sounds absolutely yummy! I’ve got these places you’ve been recommending bookmarked for my next visit to the great LA area (whenever that will be).

  26. Jessica O says:

    Nice!! Thanks for the pictures! I love reading your food blogs!

  27. Brianna says:

    As far as food blogs go this is a great mix of food and humour. If you ever end up back in Perth, Australia I have to recommend a few places to you. People always think Melbourne for food and wine in Australia but Perth has many great little boutique restaurants.

  28. Kelly says:

    A “Mediterranean Margarita” with in-house made fresh fig almond syrup sounds like something I would pay a lot of money for to try – and then figure out how to make it myself at home.

    Even the brussels sprouts sound interesting – this coming from someone who loathes them.

  29. Cheryl J says:

    Love your writing here. You have a direct style that would lend itself well to other genres. Perhaps you should consider the unexplored world of culinary fiction. Looking forward to your Vancouver restaurant suggestions. (Mine is Vij’s/Rangoli, of course. His delicious cricket parantha made my lower eyelids sweat.)

  30. Abby B says:

    I love Mediterranean food. This just made my day and made me want to go to my favorite place, Andy’s. The kabobs are off the hook and they have a drink called a Blonde Lebanese that’s vodka and mango juice. SO GOOD!!
    Please keep up the writing and continue with the pictures.

  31. Dave says:

    Pictures are a nice addition. Ignore the “smart phone challenged” stuffy heads.

  32. John Baker says:

    Just ate at Cleo’s and wow Jewel.. thanks! It was awesome. The Medusa’s Bite is now one of my all time fav drinks. We had the Babaganoush and Lebaneh as dippers, Lamb, Chicken kebob and Merguez.. and of course the brusselsprouts, which before today were yukky.. those at Cleo’s were amazing and sets the new world standard for brussel sprouts period! Problem was, we ordered way too much including the ice cream on warmed date cake and are now huge.. one more dish and would have required a wheelbarrow for an exit. Oh and the Mushrooms woth Hazelnuts Carmelized.. ooh those were amazing. Now I want to go back when I have more room to try the grilled octopus, shrimp oh man.. the list goes on… Thanks Jewel!

  33. Mandie says:

    I am having entirely too much fun drooling jealously over your blog. My order of wine should come in tomorrow and I’m unable to stop thinking about it now with all your mentioning of your awesome selections.

    Denver doesn’t have nearly the insane selection you all have out there, and I’m wildly unhappy about this.

  34. Jessie says:

    Love the blog! Great pictures too 🙂

  35. Ai says:

    I can’t wait for your next post! It’s like a foodie dream reading your adventures at these awesome restaurants. Too bad I live on the East Coast, because all of this reading is making me hungrrry!

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