A platter of mezze at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood (Ron De Angelis / For The Times)

Ladyhawk is quickly establishing itself as Los Angeles’ premier Lebanese restaurant, led by a ‘Top Chef’ champion. This elegant eatery, located on the ground floor of the Kimpton La Peer Hotel, presents a unique blend of traditional Lebanese flavors and contemporary culinary artistry.

The restaurant’s mesmerizing mezze platters are a feast for the eyes and palate. Staff skillfully navigate the dining room with these table-sized assortments, causing a stir among diners who eagerly make room for the gastronomic spectacle. The arrangement of dips and appetizers, reminiscent of a Kandinsky painting, showcases the kitchen’s attention to both aesthetics and flavor.

The mastermind behind these dishes is Chef Charbel Hayek, a 26-year-old culinary virtuoso. His journey from Beirut to the pinnacle of ‘Top Chef Middle East’ and later to ‘Top Chef: All-Stars’ has culminated in this groundbreaking venture. His cooking style, deeply rooted in Lebanese tradition yet marked by imaginative flair, is what sets Ladyhawk apart.

Each dish on the platter is proof of the kitchen’s dedication to authenticity and innovation. The hummus comes in two delightful variations, one with whole chickpeas and another with a chile sambal twist. The baba ghanouj and muhammara are vibrant both in color and taste, while the labneh, adorned with pickled eggplant, adds a creamy contrast. The freshly baked pita bread, a staple for scooping up these delicious dips, is a far cry from the typical, uninspired offerings found elsewhere.

Ladyhawk’s mezze platter, priced at $110, is an all-encompassing introduction to the restaurant’s menu, ideal for groups or even adventurous couples seeking a lavish dinner. This option, however, only scratches the surface of the culinary journey available at Ladyhawk.

Hayek’s expertise is evident in every dish. The hummus is perfectly balanced, and his interpretation of fattoush is a refreshing twist on the classic. Traditionalists may raise an eyebrow at his quinoa tabbouleh, but the dish’s execution is flawless, maintaining the integrity of this beloved salad.

The menu features more than just exceptional mezze. The roast chicken, deconstructed to mirror the flavors of a Lebanese shawarma, and the creatively presented skirt steak with a parsley-infused tahini sauce, are just a couple of the standout entrées. Each dish is a nod to Lebanese culinary traditions, skillfully adapted to appeal to a diverse clientele.

While the food takes center stage, the beverage program at Ladyhawk also deserves recognition. Although the wine list could better highlight Lebanese wines, the current selection is thoughtfully curated. The inclusion of more arak varieties, the traditional Lebanese spirit, would further enhance the dining experience.

Ladyhawk’s success is not just in its cuisine but also in its contribution to Lebanese culinary representation in Los Angeles. The restaurant is gradually filling a gap in the city’s dining scene, bringing a touch of Lebanese glamour and a wealth of culinary talent to the forefront. As the restaurant continues to attract diners since its opening in November, it’s clear that Ladyhawk is not just a dining destination but a cultural ambassador, showcasing the depth and diversity of Lebanese cuisine.