Tag Archive | "Santa Monica"

Hotel Shangri-la – Santa Monica


Driving along Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica even in the thickest of traffic gives one a much different disposition than the three freeways that got me there. That change in attitude was a fitting transition as I drove up to the Hotel Shangri-la sparkling in the afternoon sun. As I walled into the lobby I could feel the pace of life slow down as my heart rate started to increase. Rarely will environment send a vibe that strong, so soon. We were off to a great start.

I take my time getting to my room to marvel at the lingering art deco couches left over from the recent renovation. The hotel was built in 1939 and still retained much its original charm…and the original elevator.

When I opened the door to my room I had to stop standing in the doorway to take it all in. One thing that struck me was a masculine feel to the decor. The dark colors stood apart from any other hotel I’ve visited. As I come around the corner I notice I have a full kitchen at my disposal. While it’s unlikely I would be cooking, it’s nice to know I have the option should I come back for an extended stay. I was impressed by the way the suite had the ability to be opened up or compartmentalized should one guest need a little privacy.

When it came to design, the bathroom was one area of special attention. The jacuzzi bath was big enough for two, comfortably. The white tile, chrome covered lights and hand crafted woodwork were all the incentive a man needs to spend an hour prepping for a night out.

Rounding out my tour of the room I thought I might have saved the best for last when I opened the door out on to the deck facing the ocean. The cozy deck chairs made it seem perfectly sensible to spend the day watching the sun drop slowly into the horizon.

Did someone say bar? Hotel Shangri-la has a very cool bar on the roof looking out on the ocean. I fell in love with the wood swivel club chairs. The room has a feel of your grandfathers hunting lodge, turned into a bar and moved to the roof of a swank hotel. I dare you to not love it there, in fact, I double dog dare you because it can’t be done. The elixir to this swelling heart affair would be their Pimms cup; a cocktail that blends Pimms with mint, cucumber and berries with a splash of club soda. Take my car keys…for the summer please.

In an age where hotels strive to provide a unique experience Hotel Shangri-la exposed them all as coming from the same corporate planning and thinking. This hotel preserved an old character and added layers of new charm that were contemporary yet complimentary of its history. I can truly say my experience here was like no other. Now to see if I can replicate that happening happening.

1301 ocean ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Fred Segal – Santa Monica


Iconic Santa Monica California shopping destination, FRED SEGAL, seen as an undisputed leader in the independent retail scene for creating the ideal blend of special merchandise, excellent service and welcoming atmosphere for a truly unique, lifestyle shopping experience, announces their FIRST ever Summer Sale! From June 22nd thru July 3rd only, you can shop for summer pieces to accent your style, home furnishings, accessories, footwear essentials at 50% off! All the stores under FRED SEGAL Santa Monica’s roof such as Sharon Segal, Emphatic, Babakul, Bettina Duncan, Fred Segal Eyes, Aviator Nation, Happiness, Ron Robinson, Nina and Trend Man and others are offering you a chance to get a jump on summer at 50% off! For a limited time only.

Whist at the Viceroy – Santa Monica


On a night when it seemed all of Los Angeles was drenched in a little bit too much sun, it was nice to take a quiet and cool table around sundown at the outdoor poolside patio of Whist at the Viceroy.  The atmosphere was upscale, yet comfortable, like that grad school professor who always wore jeans.

The bread on the table is like a handshake, it’s the first encounter that tells you the kind you’re dealing with. Whist met me with the perfect handshake, house made pretzel bread that had a firm and crisp outer crust and a velvety soft center. This loaf was so light that at points I thought I could have been buttering cotton candy. OK I know that image might have left you slightly disturbed.

After a bit more bread and butter than a New Years resolute woman should have, I was happy to see the Asparagus salad coming my way. This paired down salad seemed like a good call, and it was. The asparagus looked so cozy on a fork with the gooey egg. The candied walnuts and of course the parmesan gave this salad a diverse range of tastes.

Wanting to keep things savory, I chose the Veal tenderloin. The asian pear on the meat was a bit heavy, but once my tongue got calibrated to the taste, delicious. The sautéed taragon and celery root resting next to the veal made me push through the meat to get to those wonderful flavors. The prosciutto added an extra unexpected taste to the blend of flavors.

As decadent as I’d been with dinner choices, it only made sense that I chose the most naughty dessert option on the menu; the triple chocolate bread pudding. The deep sinking spoon collecting each of the three chocolates felt righteous and guilty at the same time and magnified once it melted in my mouth. I was tempted to leave and come back in with phony Groucho Marx glasses and a blonde wig just so I could order this dessert AGAIN.

All in all, Whist impressed me with décor and a highly diverse menu that merged various ethnic influences and a bevy of local produce. I am eager to go back and try their Crispy jidori chicken.

Whist at the Viceroy Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-8711

FIG – Santa Monica


When I first heard of my 6:30 dinner reservations I thought, why so early. Traffic down to Santa Monica was light and I arrived a little early. When I got to my table the sun was just was starting to take its evening bath. The scene was a perfect way to start our dinner.  We were met by a charcuterie plate that offered a nice array of meats and cheeses along with wine grape raisins and Marcona almonds. We also sipped on some delicious strawberry and basil cocktails that set the tone for a wonderful farm to plate dinner.  As I looked over the menu I was charmed by the fact that there were headings for strawberries, beets, peas and carrots. Usually you see your standard four legs, two legs and gills categories. I found Fig’s commitment to showcasing local produce refreshing.

The strawberry salad came with dried and fresh berries. At first I found the dried berries a bit curious. I thought of those dehydrated berries in cereals and bristled. Once I bit into the dried strawberry I was pleased by its crispness, it wasn’t dry and chewy as I expected. The salad had a nice light dressing, skinless Marcona almonds and a bright finish with fresh dill and mint.  Four small romaine hearts came to the table next and I thought, “Another salad?” You do open yourself to will of the chef. Once I sliced through the crisp and savory grilled lettuce, reggiano and anchovy I thought out loud, “you can bring me salads ALL NIGHT”.  If you told me you were thinking of pairing chorizo with clams I might discourage you from going forward. I was stunned by how well Chef Ray Garcia pulled the two ingredients together well with fava beans and mache. As I ate this dish I made sure I got one razor clam, a bit of chorizo and at least two fava beans on my fork. I hope this stays on the menu for a while.

During our dinner we had a visit from Philip McGrath of McGrath Family Farm. He was enjoying the fruits…and vegetables of his labor as they were the star of the show on this night. As a boy I practically grew up on my grandfather’s farm in Western Pennsylvania. Seeing the pride and celebration of a celebrated farmer made me a little nostalgic for those days when I could barely reach the counter in my grandfathers produce stand.  The entre arrived, a pappardelle with braised rabbit, carrots and fresh mint. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen rabbit on a menu in Los Angeles. The braised hop along was unbelievably tender and the broth it produced helped the broad, hearty pasta from being as heavy. The portion on this plate was larger than expected and certainly presented value for the price.

The Farm Dinner at Fig is something everyone should try before the changing season demands a change in the menu. As I look over this menu I’m reminded that I need to get back soon myself as there are so many items that I want to try.

101 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401-1106
(310) 319-3111

CACHÉ – Santa Monica


Bob Schriner

Tucked away in a cluster of businesses Cache sits just off Main Street in Santa Monica and proves to be worth finding. As a way of celebrating the warm LA winter we chose to sit outside. The patio at Cache is like no other, for starters, it feels too nice to be outdoors. The rich décor and warm vibe make it hard to believe the open skies are over head.

Our waiter Brian arrived and went on a precision run down of the menu that had my head spinning by the third item. As much as I admired his knowledge of the food, ingredients and preparation, I had to stop him and say, “please bring me all of those.” Keep in mind, at this point, we’re just talking appetizers.

The first of the three starters was calamari. This was not your average calamari dish, not by a long shot. This happy squid was scored and cut into square pieces unlike the traditional ring. Also breaking the norm, the calamari was not breaded, but rather cooked in a wood fired oven in chorizo and Meyer lemon. This is now the only place in town where I can eat calamari, save your breaded onion ring rendition of said seafood for those who have not yet seen the light.

Foie gras was waiting for me as the Calamari dwindled, I’m a food separatists, so the spotlight is only for solos. The foie gras came with a seasonal fruit, which in this case was mango and set upon a thick crouton. The foie gras was rich and noteworthy  to me for having a thicker consistency, which I prefer. The mango was sweet, but not too sweet to overwhelm the delicious waterfowl.

The third starter, fire roasted bone marrow needed to cool a bit, so I left it for last. We had to ask for an espresso spoon to best retrieve marrow. The side of the dish was festooned with slices of toasted baguette that offered a convex helping of herbs and wild mushrooms. These little toasts were a marvel on their own, but with a generous liquefied marrow.

We got a visit from another waiter, he was dropping off an order of fries. At first I told the waiter we hadn’t ordered that. Then we were told that we had to try them, accompanied with house made aioli ketchup, mayo and mustard, you need to try them too. The Belgian style fries were crisp and seasoned with parsley and black truffle oil. This comfort food is fine tuned to please me.

I was doing so well with appetizers I wanted to continue to sample them all. With the dishes I had all being beyond my expectations I ordered the duck confit, which came in a mason jar with baguette toasts on the side. The confit was meaty, moist and loaded with herbs and carrots. If you only get one thing here this is it.

My entrée arrived, I was torn between the filet and the special, which was cod. Despite everything being so good so far, the cod was not on par. The sweetness just did not agree with me. I thought the consistency of the fish was ideal, but I just couldn’t get over the sweetness.

On the side I had the crushed fingerling potatoes. These almost mashed tubers were teaming with parsley and shallots making it a hearty accompaniment to the cod.

After a long pause,  I opted to share the strawberry shortcake with my dining partner. The dessert offered loads of fresh berries and house made whipped crème. This was ideal with a cup of coffee to end the night.

In the end, I walked out of Cache thinking that they really had it all. I’m going to take this review back in next week and use it as a checklist to order everything I didn’t get to try thing first time.


3110 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 399-4800

Ongoing Events at Cache:

Live Music Thursdays
Join CACHÉ every Thursday night for live performances in the bar lounge and groove to the best in local talent. David Boyles performs his inimitable “organic hip hop / Southern-fried soul” acoustic music every other week with special guest artists in between. 2 sets, beginning at 9 p.m. No cover, no minimum

Happy Hour at CACHÉ
From 5-7 daily, meet at the bar or in the lounge for cocktails and delicious small bites.
Signature Flatbreads $7 Daily Sliders $7 Truffle Fries $7 French Fries $7
CACHÉ cocktails, well drinks and wines by glass, $7 Dos Equis beer, $4

Burger Nights
Every Wednesday and Thursday, Chefs Josiah and Nyesha cook up a delicious burger designed from Farmers’ Market ingredients.

Weekend Brunch
Cache serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays with a new menu from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Our bar lounge menu is available from 2:30 p.m.

LC Bistro – Santa Monica


By Bob Schriner

When I heard La Cachette moved to a much larger new location just off Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, I wondered how the new home would compare. The Century City spot was intimate and quiet, that seemed like difficult traits to carry over to the beach boulevard. The Santa Monica site has a calm and relaxing indoor dining room that was a little too low key for our weekday visit. We opted for the patio, which was comfortable and buffered from the busy sidewalk by hanging plants.

Now I’ve always been an indecisive menu reader, something that was exasperated upon looking at the new La Cachette menu. Somehow I found it easier to order an appetizer…by ordering three of them. What can I say, I’m a friend of “and”, weary of “or”.

The first appetizer to arrive was a traditional French treat, duck confit rillettes with cornichons, Dijon mustard and thick homemade bread. The duck was so soft that it easily spread across the bread over a slight bit of the spicy mustard and blended together to make a remarkable taste. Tiny cornichons were a nice accent to this dish.

Can it be too much to follow up Duck Confit with Foie Gras? If you said yes, you need to sample the foie gras at La Cachette. According to Chef Jean-Francois Meteigner, the foie gras is never cooked in direct heat, but molded by hand in a towel as 130 degree fat was poured over the top. The dense terrine was served with a pot of rhubarb jelly with cooked rhubarb on top. A sprinkle of black pepper over the rhubarb on toast with a thick slice of foie gras was truly divine. I can’t think of a combination of flavors that was so diverse yet so cohesive.

Smoked Hamachi in a French Bistro seems unlikely, but it was real and it was wonderful. I marveled at how something so delicate and thin could be smoked and so flavorful. Just when I thought I had the chef pegged, I was thrown for quite the surprise. Ever ready to avert the main course I next tried the Fish and Langoustine soup served with a red pepper Rioulle on toasted flatbread with shredded Swiss cheese. The soup tasted akin to lobster bisque with the fish and crustacean pieces were the smallest pieces, almost a pulp. The soup had a warm wholesome feel, but was almost done a disservice by the rich dishes that came out first.

The entrée could wait no longer, the braised veal short ribs and sweetbreads with risotto was a decadent dinner indeed. The veal short ribs were so tender that I could have cut them with a stern look. Luckily, I used a fork instead and the meat just melted in my mouth. The sweetbreads were so rich that I was glad they were in smaller portions. If there is only one dish I could have had that night, this would have sent me away on a cloud.

Service seems to be one area where the new La Cachette was still settling into. On one hand, Chef Jean-Francois was very hands on, delivered many dishes personally and was on a full charm offensive with all of his customers. Our waitress on the other hand seemed out of place like an audio track that doesn’t sync up with the video. She did make some good wine suggestions. However, she made an awkward point to walk by after dishes were delivered by others to say, “Bon appetite.” As out of place as the waitress seemed, it hardly made for a bad outing. All in all, I think the new La Cachette deserves a visit from you, my trusty reader. I shall return soon.

La Cachette
1733 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Interview with Owner and Chef of LC Bistro Jean-Francois Meteigner

Q: How is the new La Cachette different from the old La Cachette:
A: The old La Cachette was a more traditional and upscale restaurant LC Bistro is a modern Californian French bistro with some Asian influenced flavors and ingredients like Korean chili paste with Wasabe ginger and soy but we use Harissa too which is more of a Northern African spice, we have a burger on menu with melted blue cheeses grilled onions, mussels have saffron in it Tumeric cayenne and curry too
then we have French food with the Cassoulet, Coq au Vin, Lamb rack Flageolets and then we move on to fun stuff: homemade salmon sausages, duck confit rillettes, homemade smoke trout and salmon cold Brandade with house cured cod, braised buffalo short ribs with coffee rub there are so many dishes to try at the bistro.

Q: Who are some chefs (past, present, living or dead) whom you admire?
A: Chef Alain Ducasse seems to grow into a bigger star as he expands around the world. What Joackim or Wolfgang do -those guys are unreal, BRAVO, I cannot do it, no sir I would go crazy.

Q: What is the signature dish at La Cachette?

A: Fish and salmon sausage sauerkraut, Buffalo Short Ribs, Bouillabaisse, House cured trout salad, Fish Soup and my mom’s seafood gratin.

Q: When at home what do you enjoy cooking for your family/friends?

A: When at home, which is never nowadays, my wife Allie usually cooks turkey meat loaf tomato sauce, meat balls and spaghetti, roasted chicken mashed potato, simple great home cooking but now the kids loves the bistro so much and want to eat there all the time and I’m letting them work in pastry to make money. Lots of Korean food too homemade from Allie’s mom, we love it! At the bistro we are going to be adding more risotto and raviolis to the menu. I am a quarter Italian and I love making risotto and different types of raviolis and polenta.

Boa Steakhouse – (new location) West Hollywood

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Everyone loves a nice piece of meat.  Especially when it’s hot, juicy and deliciously tender.  Some of the best meat in town can be found at BOA Steakhouse, a premium steak restaurant with locations in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Las Vegas. The West Hollywood location is conveniently located in the Grafton Hotel on Sunset and plays host to a mix of travelers and locals.  The décor is cool and the service is top notch. Though the menu at BOA is “steak-centric”, it also includes a smorgasbord of seafood, clever appetizers and tasty salads such as the tableside Caeser which is created fresh at your table. BOA also offers a number of delicious signature sauces to compliment either surf or turf.  There are an abundance of eclectic choices of appetizers on the menu including Kobe Beef Corndogs, Smoked Salmon & Caviar and the divine premium Japanese Wagyu beef.  The Wagyu is saturated with flavor and just melts in your mouth and it is nicely complimented with Japanese XO sauce and Okinawa sea salt to dip.  A few good steak choices include the Kobe beef rib-eye, 40 day dry aged New York strip steak and Bone In Kansas filet mignon.
Savour every mouthful and dig into that big hunk of meat. 

Boa Steakhouse has a new location!
Boa Steakhouse

9200 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 278-2050

Sushi Roku – D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.

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The love affair that Los Angeles has with Japanese cuisine shows no sign of slowing.  As a result, the best sushi restaurants are increasingly popular for both quick bites to eat or for more glamorous nights out.  Sushi Roku offers a mixture of both.  The crowd and scene reminded me of a recurring episode of “The Hills” with the beautiful people complimenting the beautiful food & décor without the “drama” of the MTV scripted reality show.  Interesting to note, during my last visit to the West Hollywood location I spotted Kate Bosworth eating on the patio and Donald Faison dining inside.  The atmosphere here is warm and upbeat, from the moment you enter you’re greeted by the Sushi masters with a loud “Irashaimase!” which means “Welcome!” in Japanese.  The waitstaff at Sushi Roku are friendly and the décor is sumptuous, this seems to be true for every Sushi Roku location that I’ve been to (Including Las Vegas and Santa Monica).   

During my last visit to Sushi Roku, I started my evening with three Saki flights and a beer.  The beer, Koshihikari Echigo a Japanese import was full bodied yet had a touch of sweetness to it.  Of the three sake flights, the one that stood out was the the Junmai Shu which complimented the rich appetizers very well.  Sushi Roku serves a traditional menu of teppanyakki, sushi, sashimi and sushi themed plates such as the Hanabi Spicy Tuna on a Crispy Rice Cake.   One of the weekly specials was an Italian inspired appetizer that featured heirloom tomatoes and balsamic reduction with Kobe beef carpaccio. This appetizer was beyond delicious and I love the fact that the chefs at Sushi Roku are able to experiment and create plates that transcend the boundaries of traditional Sushi. The Baked Cod, Miso Eggplant and Popcorn Rock Shrimp are all menu regulars and not to be missed.  Make sure to end your meal with a rich dessert.  The chocolate cake soufflé with vanilla ice cream is the perfect ending to a fabulous dinner at Sushi Roku.  
Sushi Roku
8445 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 302-4602

Coast at Shutters on the Beach – Santa Monica


In the middle of a hectic work week, nothing sounds better than a relaxing evening on the seaside. Thankfully Shutters on the Beach brings us Coast, a soothing mix of calm and class with rolling waves just beyond your table. If the tranquil settings weren’t inviting enough, Coast offers a Farmers Market menu on Wednesdays that has been causing a buzz. Haya and I were seated at a nice table on the patio with the famed Santa Monica Pier in site. When the time comes to order a drink I decide to try house specialty and the basil cucumber martini was an affirmation of this habit. A dry martini, with a basil leaf on top is not your everyday drink, but today, there was nothing better. Imagine drinking a caprese salad and getting a little tipsy in the process. There is something about sitting on the water that makes seafood irresistible. As such Haya ordered the shrimp cocktail alongside my crab cocktail. When the platter arrived I wanted to jump right in it, even though it was filled with ice. When strong presentation is met with such anticipation, stand clear of me and the plate. I could not believe how succulent and large the pieces of crab meat were. The shrimp was just as pleasing. While I had arrived with every intention of ordering the Farmer’s Market Dinner, there were a number of entrees on the menu. When our waitress explained the preparation on the Farmers Market Dinner, I was certain it was the right call. The first installment was a thoughtful tuna and hamachi crudo. The fish was sliced a little less than a quarter inch in thickness and lightly dressed in fennel, chili oil and mint with chunks of pink grapefruit. The compliment of citrus to the uncooked fish was flattering enough to make me and the tuna blush, brilliant. Couple my weakness for smoked pork with how impressed I was with the appetizers and you still probably can’t gauge how excited I was for the entrée to arrive. When the dish came out the spoiling of Bob Schriner continued. The smoked tenderloin was a real treat. The meat was very juicy and tender and the smoky flavor was even better with a little dab of BBQ sauce on the side of the plate. Served underneath the tenderloin there was a pair of crispy rolls filled with pulled pork, pumpkin hash and chestnuts that made my ascension into leisure eating free of any guilt.
The Farmers Market Dinner came with an apple dessert. Haya ordered the fresh fruit cobbler. Both desserts were splendid, meeting the peak where pleasure no longer cares about the thought of decadence. The apple dish had sorbet at its best, juicing Fuji, Pink Lady and Granny Smiths. Every bite I took of it made me with that there was a dinner remote with a slow-motion button so I could draw out every possible moment to savor this goodness. The sorbet was joined with crisp Granny Smith chips that you could see through as well as glazed Pink Lady apples and a pureed mix with apple butter. The fresh fruit cobbler should have had the word fresh in all caps because the distinction was pronounced by a natural sweetness that is lost in preservative process. The cobbler had mixed berries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream that I watched slowly melt into the rich fruit. Now that you’ve learned from my mistake of waiting until I had a bad day to visit Coast, don’t repeat it. Remember, Wednesday is the Farmer’s Market Dinner, but attending any other day of the week you will leave well served in an elevated state.
Coast at Shutters
1 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 458-0030