Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whist at The Viceroy Hotel (Santa Monica)

Whist at The Viceroy Hotel seemed to have been under the radar, and there were more guests at the bar and lounge than in the dining room, which is a shame considering the talents and pedigree of the Executive Chef, Tony DiSalvo, who joined the restaurant in 2009. Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo trained under Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern before working his way up at New York's Jean Georges, eventually becoming the restaurant's Executive Chef. Whist and Jean Georges are two different animals, of course, from the ambiance to the food.

Whist at The Viceroy
I was immediately drawn to the interior and the unique touches they've put in. The wooden chairs and the curvy windows adjoining the bar speak casual, beachy, and antiquated. The dim lighting and the pentagonal lamps added a classy and modern touch. The food is Mediterranean with little fuss.

Whist and DiSalvo recently debuted a new menu in late November and I was invited to try them out.
Our meal started strong with the Beet Salad (hazelnut, truffle panna cotta, baby lettuce) - $16
Beet Salad
Accompanying the particularly sweet and juicy beets was the creamy and wondrously aromatic truffle panna cotta.

Next is Mushroom Escabeche (serrano, ham, crostini) - $12
Mushroom Escabeche
A nice appetizer; the earthiness of the mushrooms balanced the vinegar's acidity quite well and spreading them on the crostini helped even more.

A must-try appetizer is the DiSalvo Meatballs (shaved parmesan, olive oil) - $11. This is apparently a family recipe that's been handed down for four generations!
Both the hostess and the server had recommended this dish, which came from the bar/lounge menu, so I decided I had to try it. They were right; while I normally wouldn't think of ordering meatballs, this ended up being my favorite of the night. The tender meatballs (made fresh daily) had a light sweetness to it that was accentuated even more in the rich tomato sauce.

Moving on to the pastas, we had the Sweet Corn Ravioli (lobster, pancetta, tomato, basil) - $18
Sweet Corn Ravioli

Sweet corn and lobster? Can't go wrong. I found the lobster/tomato combination a nice change into the lighter side of the meal after the meatballs. The ravioli was a little too al dente for me, however, and I would've liked it better if it had been just a bit more tender.

We shared one meat entree: Glazed Colorado Lamb Shank (Tunisian spice, farroto, eggplant parsley, harissa) - $31
Lamb Shank

I liked the flavors here but found the lamb itself a bit overcooked and thus a little tough (it was still tender enough, though).

At this point, we were full and probably should've picked a lighter dessert than this dense bread pudding.
Chocolate Bread Pudding

Overall we had a good meal here; the appetizers were stronger but that seems to be the case everywhere now (do try the meatballs - there's a reason this recipe has been maintained for four generations). We walked through the outdoor seating area after dinner. On a nice night you can't go wrong with having drinks and small bites, lounging in white leather chairs under a white cabana (you can reserve a cabana for a dining party up to 10).

Whist at the Viceroy
1819 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 260-7511
Whist at the Viceroy on Urbanspoon
Whist in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Disclaimer: This was an invited dinner and all the food was hosted.



Thanks a lot for the good article.

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