Showing posts with label santa monica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label santa monica. Show all posts

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Erven Gives Los Angeles Its Best New Vegan Restaurant

I've always enjoyed Chef Nick Erven's cooking from his previous restaurant, the now-shuttered Saint Martha. I wasn't expecting him to open a vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, but I looked forward to it just the same, especially after hearing all the glowing reviews!

Erven is divided into two parts: the Marketplace side which serves sandwiches, cookies, juices, and such. Then there's the dining room which is open for a casual lunch, but the highlight is of course, the dinner service (although the vegan sandwiches are also great).

We started with a bowl complimentary fried chickpeas - the amuse bouche seems to rotate based on the other reviews.
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The savory portion of the dinner menu is divided into "Snackables", "Shareables", and "Principles".
We tried a couple of the snacks including the Black garlic chickpea fritters with yuzu and Aleppo pepper ($5)
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The chickpea fritter is a good way to start and gives you an idea of Chef Erven's cooking.

Purple sweet potato rice roll with avocado and Korean chili ($5)
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Vegan kimbap, anyone?

From the Shareables section: Tiny Beets with avocado mousse, curry-almond streusel, and cilantro ($12)
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The beets weren't really "tiny" but regardless this was a wonderful and interesting take on beets, with the crispiness of the streusel, combined with avocado mousse.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sidecar Doughnuts and Egg in a Donut, Now Open in Santa Monica

Sidecar Doughnuts in Costa Mesa was one of those places on my list for my few visits beyond the Orange Curtain, but now they opened another location in Santa Monica! The new location is certainly way easier for Angelenos to try Sidecar's beloved donuts.

Sidecar Donuts

What should you get at Sidecar? Well, I've gone to the Costa Mesa location and I've tried a few items there, from seasonal flavors to their popular Huckleberry (made with real Oregon huckleberry) or Butter and Salt donuts. These donuts are good, but they're cake doughnuts. Cake doughnuts are good, but my heart lies with raised donuts. On that note, meet my very favorite donut at Sidecar: Country Ham & Eggs
Sidecar Donuts


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Hour at Estate Restaurant and Bar (Santa Monica, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda

When the conversation at the next table is easier to hear than the person that I’m eating with, I’m generally not having a good time. This type of occurrence has been more frequent of late because many restaurants have adopted a bistro format with small tables and uncomfortable chairs. I recently had the opportunity to visit Estate Restaurant and Bar to experience their new happy hour menu, and luckily, Estate's layout provided plenty of space to diners to be comfortable.
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The interior of the Estate Restaurant and Bar is a modern take on what restaurants used to be like. Estate Restaurant and Bar has different seating areas and plush booths and individual seats. Because they don’t attempt to use every square inch of the restaurant, there is a general feeling of spaciousness. Even the bar has cushioned comfortable chairs.

Their happy hour menu had plenty of discounted food and drinks. We started off with the Tuna Crispy Wonton Tacos  ($9)
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Instead of frying taco shells, they use wonton shaped like a tortilla, just like classic tuna tartar. The contrasting colors and textures were both visually stunning and delicious. The tuna was fresh and the ginger nicely enhanced the tuna.

Char siu pizza with hoisin sauce? I had to see what that was all about.
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Friday, October 23, 2015

The Little Door in Santa Monica

by guest blogger @btsunoda

Driving through Brentwood on 26th Street, you would never know that a restaurant exists at 246 26th Street. The front wall of the establishment is beautifully wood stained with decorative wrought iron and grape ivy. With the absence of a sign, it wasn’t apparent that a restaurant is just behind the little door in front.


Walking inside The Little Door, it’s almost like a protected oasis within the city. The covered patio area offers a lot of indirect light and you immediately feel like you’ve arrived at someone’s home. A decorative wall mounted water fountain and an abundance of greenery accentuated this feeling.
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The Little Door is a French restaurant and a group of us were there to experience their new Sunday brunch menu. They first opened up in West Hollywood and due to popular demand, they decided to open another location in Santa Monica.
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We were treated to a champagne brunch featuring Veuve Clicquot. Most champagne served in restaurants is really sparkling wine because France regulates what can actually be called champagne. Veuve Clicquot Brut (a.k.a. Yellow Label) garnered a 90 point Wine Spectator rating and is the real deal. This is a dry champagne with hints of fresh peach. I was surprised to learn that each glass of champagne only has 72 calories.

Veuve Clicquot Rosé is blended with approximately 50% pinot noir and gives it a pink hue.
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Wine Spectator also awarded this with a 90 point rating. I actually enjoyed this more than the Yellow Label Brut. It was a bit drier and had notes of red berries. After nibbling on the assorted Cheese, Nuts and Fruit plate, I quickly realized that sometimes the simple things are best.

While the Smoked Salmon and Mini Waffles didn’t appear to be interesting to me at first, I really enjoyed it.
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The waffle was crisp and I appreciated the warm premium dark maple syrup. The saltiness of the capers with smoked salmon nicely offset the sweetness of the syrup. The black heirloom tomato was meaty, sweet and very enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rick Bayless Opens Red O in Santa Monica

by guest blogger @btsunoda

Celebrity chef  Rick Bayless, recently extended his LA base of operations to include another Red O. Located on picturesque Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, it’s just a hop skip and a jump from the iconic Santa Monica Pier.

A pre-grand opening party was recently held there. The menu is similar to their original location on Melrose: appetizers, ceviche and raw bar, soups and salads, steak and seafood, other entrees and sides. Thanks to corn being the staple starch in Mexican food, almost everything on their menu is gluten free.
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The interior is modern chic. Premium tequila and mezcal bottles attractively line the walls.
During the party, an impressive “Red O” tower of seafood commanded the interior.
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It was surrounded by two different types of Mexican ceviche, oysters on the half shell and crab legs.

One of my favorites that evening was the Shrimp & Calamari Ceviche.   IMG_1800

Friday, August 7, 2015

Forma Restaurant: A Cheese Lover's Heaven (Santa Monica, CA)

Do you love cheese? If your answer is yes, then you need to head to the new Forma in Santa Monica right away. "Forma" is what they call a cheese wheel, and this restaurant boasts four different dalla forma pasta preparations, which means that the pasta is finished off in the cheese wheel. Four different pastas, four different cheese wheels.

Forma

The dalla forma pasta is not the only cheesy goodness you can get here, though.
Try the Filet Mignon Tartare with avocado, Fresno chile pepper, capers, shallot, parmigiano, grilled bread ($16)
Forma
The tartare is topped with freshly shaved raspadura cheese. This is a traditional cheese of Lodi. It's actually a Bella Lodi cheese that's not fully mature, and it's shaved using a special knife that bends, shown below.
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The overall effect of the bite of tartare, combined with the avocado, cheese, and grilled bread? Perfect.

Forma also has a cheese bar featuring 36 different cheeses. The best part? You don't have to get a cheese platter, but you can actually order each cheese individually, so you can create your own platter, or just get the one you really want to try.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Walking Tour of Santa Monica: The Misfit, Del Frisco's Grille, and The Lobster

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda @btsunoda

I’ve participated on walking food tours in cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis and recently had an opportunity to do a local walking tour in downtown Santa Monica. One recent evening, I had an opportunity to visit The Misfit Restaurant and Bar, Del Frisco’s Grille and The Lobster.

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The first stop was The Misfit Restaurant and Bar. It resides in the uber cool Clock Tower on the 200 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. It was built in the 1920’s in the Art Déco style and is the third tallest building in Santa Monica. 
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 The Misfit Restaurant and Bar has a number of specialty cocktails. We were first introduced to “Good Night Emily”: Fords Gin, grapefruit, mint and Peychaud’s bitters. If you like grapefruit, it’s the perfect cocktail for a warm summer day.
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A colorful kale salad was brought out.
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It was comprised of shredded kale, quinoa, sunflower seeds, red grapes, preserved lemon and manchego parmesan with a champagne vinaigrette. The red grapes brought color to the dish and I particularly enjoyed the combination of sunflower seeds with the tasty champagne vinaigrette. This is a great salad to enjoy for lunch.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Panini Lunch at CiBOTECA (Santa Monica)

I'm always looking for places near Toyota Santa Monica to kill time whenever I take my car in (since that Toyota location has no wi-fi). During my last service, I walked over to Broadway to the new-ish CiBOTECA, a cafe and marketplace that serves paninis, cold deli items, and desserts.

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I tried two different paninis, starting from the Cotoletta (Veal Milanese, dijon mustard, shaved parmesan, mizuna, $9)
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Crispy veal cutlet between crunchy toasted seed bread!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hungry Cat's Crabfest Returns July 27, Summer Crab Nights, and Last Year's Review

The annual Crabfest at The Hungry Cat will return to the Hollywood locaton on July 27! This year, the Santa Monica location will hold "Summer Crab Nights" which will be more like a mini Crabfest. The Summer Crab Nights will be held on Sundays June 29, August 10, and September 7, where you can get half a dozen Maryland blue crabs with sides of corn on the cob, tomato and watermelon salad, cornbread and a dessert for $35. The dealio is at 3-8pm on those dates.

The big Crabfest (now in its 10th year) itself is $75 for 5 courses and will be at 1-7pm - again, July 27 at the Hollywood location.

Here's what the Crabfest was like last year:
We each started with a bowl of Maryland Crab Soup, a flavorful and comforting soup with a generous serving of crab.
Crab Soup
Next was a Beer-battered soft shell crab sandwich, b&b pickles, spicy remoulade
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This was a substantial sandwich for just the second course! It's a well proportioned sandwich with good bread that complements the crispy soft shell crab.

Friday, June 6, 2014

New Cocktails Hit Santa Monica at The Charleston

Realizing there wasn't really a spot for craft cocktails on that strip of Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, The Charleston's new GM, Chris Cheng, decided to launch a brand new cocktail list. There's no famous bartender involved, but his experience working with Beau du Bois at The Corner Door helped him create a solid starting list.

One of my favorites was the Cootie Catcher, made with gin, honeydew, luxardo triplem, lemon, and orgeat. Name aside, it's rare to find a honeydew cocktail and the honeydew flavor is nicely enhanced here. The orgeat they use is St. Vincent, which is infused with orange blossom and rose water - it's a local product made by one of the bartenders at Bestia!

Honeydew cocktail

Friday, January 3, 2014

Insomnia, An Intimate Magic Show at Hotel Casa del Mar, Santa Monica

Starting on January 26, Hotel Casa del Mar will host magician ("modern conjuror") Derek Hughes for his new comedic magic show, Insomnia. 
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The $55 ticket (which can be purchased here) not only includes the show, a beer/wine reception ...
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 ... with some hors d'oeuvres, but also parking. That's invaluable in these parts of Santa Monica! Given the price of shows in Los Angeles these days, this is quite a good price.
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It's hard to capture a magic show with photos alone, so check out this video preview on youtube.
Insomnia


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peru to Malaysia Test Kitchen at Zengo

Richard Sandoval's Zengo at the Santa Monica Place does a different "Test Kitchen" menu every once in a while, and the latest is a Peruvian Malaysian take. Malaysian food is very similar to Indonesian so I wanted to check this out! The Test Kitchen items are indicated with a "TK" to the left of the item's name on the menu.

I like the entrees on this TK menu. Try the Char roasted halibut, ginger chile marinade, crispy lentil rice cake, sambal butter sauce, charred banana leaf ($25)

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The halibut was nicely cooked, sitting atop the aromatic banana leaf, and I liked that sambal butter! It's not that spicy as far as sambal goes but definitely packed some spices.

I also enjoyed the Arroz con Mariscos, mussels, scallops, calamari, shrimp, yellow curry, Malay rice, Thai basil ($14)
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This seemed more Thai than Malaysian with the curry broth, but nonetheless it's a flavorful and comforting dish for the cold weather. The two dishes above are probably my favorites of the TK menu.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

CAST: The Reinvented Restaurant at Viceroy Santa Monica

Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica has reinvented itself as CAST, but Chef Tony DiSalvo is still going strong in the kitchen. The new name, CAST, draws focus to its proximity to the ocean and the seafood dishes.

Pay attention to the crostini section, and don't miss the sea urchin crostini with sea salt, lemon, and larda ($6 each). Perfectly creamy, and the light dressing of salt and lemon brings out the rich flavors even more.

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Equally worthy but less of a splurge is the burrata crostini with pesto, tomato ($3 each). This was also one of the creamiest burrata I've had in LA.
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The crostinis are thin, meant to serve as a vessel to the uni and burrata without masking the flavors.
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Oh, if you are on Instagram, be sure to take a photo and tag @viceroySM. You will get a free glass of sparkling wine for doing so! For a glass of white wine that will go with seafood dishes, we enjoyed the 2010 Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, California ($13).

It's not all seafood here, of course. Chef DiSalvo kept his famous Lamb Kefta meatballs because riots might break out if he ever takes it off the menu. At the moment they are served with orange, pistachio, and yogurt ($10)
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We started our feast with the Diver scallops, dungeness crab risotto, snap peas, shiso vinaigrette ($18 or $33 for full size - I believe the one pictured is the half size)
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Perfectly cooked scallops, creamy risotto with chunks of sweet crab, crisp snap peas. What a nice seafood dish, the flavors are light yet satisfying.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Playing at Zengo's Test Kitchen

The term fusion has been thrown around for many years and the boundaries have been blurred. At Zengo in Santa Monica, they play around with a changing Test Kitchen menu, combining flavors from specific countries. I tried the Test Kitchen menu combining Hong Kong with San Juan, Puerto Rico flavors, which included items like Chicarron-plantain mofongo shumai, ground pork, chicharron, black vinegar, XO sauce

Mofongo Shumai
This was quite an interesting combination. The dumpling skin was nice and thin and while there were traditional Chinese flavors here, the mofongo was very distinctive.

The Adobo sweet n sour BBQ pork ribs were quite tender. They were served with papa rellena, bacon, Jack cheese, chayote slaw
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 21: Angeleno Mag's Live and Dine LA (+ 2012 recap)

Live and Dine LA is Angeleno Magazine's celebration of their Restaurant Issue, and it's always one of my favorite events, featuring LA's best restaurants at the beautiful Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows. This year's event will start at 4:30 pm on Sunday, July 21. Tickets are $95 and can be purchased on http://2013liveanddinela.eventbrite.com/. This year, the VIP ticket gets you two nights of extravaganza. The $250 VIP ticket (can be purchased here) gets you a four-course dinner made by Chefs Ray Garcia, Michael Voltaggio, and Ricardo Zarate with wine and cocktail pairing, and also admission to the main tasting event on July 21.

Live and Dine LA is more about quality rather than quantity, but there are still way more than enough food. Here are some my favorite bites from last year:
Blue Cow Kitchen and Bar served Mendocino's pork belly banh mi atop a banh xeo (Vietnamese "crepes")

Chef Ray Garcia from FIG served nose-to-tail pork tacos, displaying this impressive bowl of just that.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Catch at Hotel Casa del Mar (Santa Monica, CA): Excellent Ocean View Dining

Dining with an ocean view can be disappointing food-wise, but the new Chef at Catch, Sven Mede, aims to make it better at this fresh seafood-centric restaurant inside Hotel Casa del Mar.

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View from my seat
Of course, I couldn't say no to the Grand Shellfish Platter for two (Maine lobster, citrus poached shrimp, Alaskan King Crab legs, East & West coast oysters, Cherrystone clams, ceviche, served with traditional garnishes - $68)
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The East Coast oysters were Cape Cod Sweet Petite and the West Coast oysters were Crystal Bay. Both oysters were unusually good and fresh, the Sweet Petites were the best oysters I've had in recent memory. The clams were also exceptional. The lobster was unfortunately a little tough, but otherwise we loved the shellfish platter.
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The raw seafood continues with Maine diver scallop crudo, blood orange, rhubarb, basil ($14)
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Beautiful, delicate flavors.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Under The Radar: Buffalo Club (Santa Monica, CA)

Buffalo Club is a fine dining restaurant in Santa Monica that's been around for 19 years, and yet not that many people these days seem to know about it.

The exterior looks like a dive bar - that's because it used to be before the current proprietor bought it and reinvented it as a restaurant. Walking in, though, especially after the recent renovation, reveals an interior much different from the outside - an elegant, dimly lit, quiet, dining room. After the latest renovation, there are now two dining areas: the white tablecloth Iroquois dining room and the more casual (and cheaper) Garden Courtyard.

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The chef and part owner, Patrick Healy, has been at the restaurant since its inception, a rare feat for fine dining chefs in LA these days. Healy trained in France under Alain Ducasse and other 3-star Michelin chefs before opening his own restaurant and later joining Buffalo Club.

We let the sommelier, Brayner Ferry, pair everything for us and he welcomed us with a brut rose from La Maison du Cremant de Bourgogne.
Our dinner was off to a great start with the Dungeness crab salad, avocado wrap, asparagus, Belgian endive, spicy gazpacho ($23). Pictured here is half of the portion, the restaurant split them for us.
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The precious crab salad sits atop the gazpacho and covered by fresh, creamy slices of avocado. It's not quite salad, not quite soup. Either way it was a great, light way to whet your appetite. None of the flavors were too strong as to overpower the crab, instead they come together well.

Crisp duck confit, frisee, arugula, red onion, haricot vert, duck fat potatoes, Bing Cherry gastrique ($19).
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While I've had duck confit salads before, it's the first that the duck was this crispy. The meat was rich, but nicely by the greens and the gastrique. This was paired with a classic Chardonnay for Carneros, to cut the richness.

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