Location: 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, Ca 90401. 310-319-3111
Date: January 14, 2011
Cuisine: Farmer’s Market American
It’s fairly impressive that the Santa Monica Fairmont invested in getting a REAL chef (Ray Garcia) and turned their in-house restaurant into a place that’s worth going to even if you don’t have any other reason to be in the hotel. I’ve written extensively about all the new LA Farmer’s Market driven restaurants, and this is a place in line with Gjelina (REVIEW 1, REVIEW 2), Rustic Canyon (REVIEW 1, REVIEW 2), or Tavern (REVIEW 1, REVIEW 2). You can’t really go wrong with any of them, although each has its own distinctive personality.
Bread is in the bag. It comes with this arugala butter. Even better than normal butter.
The menu. You can also find it online HERE, but they change it constantly based on the seasonal ingredients. Notice that they even tell you which produce is in season at the bottom.
The by the glass wine list.
I wanted something light and got a glass of this Husch Anderson valley Gurtz. It was ok, but reinforced my opinion that old world imitations of German whites don’t really compete.
For a fairly casual place, it’s nice to get an amuse. Mandrin orange with micro greens.
“Apple and Butter Lettuce, Pecans, Cabecou, Spring Herbs.”
This was a special. Shrimp ravioli (singular), with ginger, micro salad, and grapefruit. This was really good, but very different. The Ginger/Seafood/Citrus pairing was very nice and light, and went well with my wine.
“Pumpkin Tortellini Blue Hubbard Squash, Sage.” Other than being mysteriously overpriced at $28 this was a very nice dish, and my wife LOVES pumpkin Tortellini. Still, it wasn’t quite as good as the completely classic form from Verona/Mantua with the amaretto cookies and the simple butter and sage sauce.
“Meat Pie, Chanterelles, German Butterballs.” This was the ultimate “shepherd’s pie.”
Inside is braised waygu beef cheeks! Very tasty, rich meaty inside with a fluffy layer of mashers on top. My style of meat and potatoes.
The dessert menu, but we were too full.
The hotel has this very cool tree out front in the valet circle. Parking is free with validation, which is nice given that hotel parking (Peninsula, you know who you are) can sometimes be crazy expensive.
I like fig, and we’ve been 5-6 times. The atmosphere by the pool/garden is very nice too, particularly during the day. But the food is very good, and changes frequently, which I like. They have a lot of meats and cheeses too. Once I ordered the “Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait, Fig Marmalade, Grilled Baguette,” but it was just too fatty EVEN FOR ME!