Quick Eats – Wilshire

Restaurant: Wilshire

Location: 2454 Wilshire Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90403-5823. (310) 586-1707

Date: July 23, 2011

Cuisine: New Californian

Rating: Solid


Wilshire is a New American in the heart of inland Santa Monica. They belong to the approachable ingredient driven California style popular in recent years (the older LA styles being “asian fusion” and “80s eclectic”).

The unassuming frontage (really sideage) conceals a rather extensive interior with a big bar space and a lovely outside patio. Their website has an up to to date menu.

“Art basil. kanon organic vodka, muddled grapes, basil, lime, ginger ale.” Pretty tasty.

A beet, burrata, and tomato salad with a bit of pesto and balsamic.

“Bacon and eggs. speck, housemade ricotta, poached egg, frisee.” This was a tasty combo, although the egg was just a touch underdone. This is a tricky balance as I like the yolk totally liquid but the white pretty well cooked.

“Scottish salmon. salsify, sprouting broccolini, king trumpet mushrooms, meyer lemon.”

“Braised shortrib. mascarpone polenta, swiss chard, romesco.” A classic short rib combo, as this kind of heavy meat is usually paired with a starch like mashed potatoes, polenta, or risotto. In this case it was the beef gravy that made the polenta, as it often does.

Part of the patio.

The patio bar.

One of the two interior rooms.

I haven’t sampled Wilshire in enough depth to form a really solid opinion. I like the patio area and the food I had was quite tasty, although it didn’t blow me away. Perhaps it seems just a tad too typical New Cal Cuisine. It’s also a hair over priced, but we certainly had a good meal here.

My index of LA Restaurants here.

Mall Eclectic – Zengo

Restaurant: Zengo [1, 2, 3]

Location: 395 Santa Monica Place, b/w Broadway & Colorado, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Tel. 310.899.1000

Date: February 4, 2011

Cuisine: Latin-Asian Fusion

Rating: Color me confused — It’s in a mall, and it’s pretty good.


With the Santa Monica place facelift — actually more of a rooflift — the powers that be have installed 4-5 new restaurants on the top floor. Now, I’m not much for mall restaurants, but I’ve tried two and they were pretty good. These places live in a kind of hybrid space between chain and “one off restaurant.” I’m not a big fan of chains either, but I guess those big mall landlords don’t like to risk their profitable leases on companies that can go belly up on the drop of a plate.

Second, the locations are pretty sweet. The new mall is basically the old mall (3 stories) with the lid ripped off, and it’s pretty cool given the proximity of the Pacific and the scenic view down the 3rd Street Promenade. These are big places and they have cool heated patios with great views.

The concepts are also hybrids, Americanized fusions of popular international styles. Zengo bills itself as Asian-Latin fusion. Which I guess it is. I also have a review of the Modern Chinese / Dim sum, Xino.

Zengo seemed a trendy spot, and the warm February night put me in a cocktail mode, the drink menu above. Official version.

“Pomelo Mezcal Margarita, mezcal / fresh pomelo / citrus / grapefruit bitters.” Tasty, a bit bitter though.

Tamarind-Togarashi Margarita, silver tequila / tamarind / citrus / togarashi salt.” Very interesting drink, tangy, and a tad spicy — but good.

Above is the special Dine LA menu, but the regular one can be found here. Another nice thing about this place is it’s more or less all tapas-style, small dishes for everyone to share. This is one of my favorite formats because I’m a flavor whore, the more the better.

“VEGETARIANO ROLL.” Sort of a california roll minus the crab.

“Hot & Sour Egg Drop Soup, Foie Gras Pork Dumplings, Enoki, Green Onion.” Also tasty. Sort of like classic hot and sour with meaty livery wontons.

“Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, Chorizo, Peanut, Cilantro, Tamarind Chutney.” Another hybrid Americanized dish — but again good. The shrimp were nicely stir fried with that crispy crunch of good chinese fry. Strong zesty flavors, with a lot of tang in the sauce.

“Chipotle Miso Glazed Black Cod, Daikon Radish, Lemon-Togarashi Aioli.” A variant of the Miso Black Cod pioneered at Matsuhisa (REVIEW HERE). This one has a lot more flavors going on. Not only the sweet, but tangy and the richness of aioli.

“Grilled Beef Short Ribs, Manchego Cheese Potato Puree, Hoisin Adobo Sauce, Huitlacoche.” Rich dark short ribs, the polenta like potato, with a bit of cheesiness, and the sweetness of the Hoisin Adobo. Not bad.

“Mexican Chocolate Tart, Cocoa Nibs, Cinnamon, Whipped Cream, Chili Ancho Anglaise.” A nice blend of dry chocolate and cinnamon, the chili anglaise was good too. Combined it did make one think of spiced frothy Aztec drink.

This is not a subtle cuisine, but I’m not complaining  either. The nuevo latino vibe is very strong, owing a lot to something like Rivera downtown (I have a meal worth of photos I need to write up one of these days). But more commercial. The Asian part borrows from every conceivable international pan-Asian dish. It’s not totally ground breaking food — and as I said very commercial — but what I tasted was very well done, and the patio and view really didn’t suck. So given the caveat of my distaste of malls and corporate restaurants, I deliver a tentative thumbs up.

Quick Eats: Brentwood

Restaurant: Brentwood

Location: 148 S Barrington Ave Los Angeles CA 90049. 310-476-3511

Date: Jan 9, 2011

Cuisine: American


Brentwood is a local bar/restaurant perfect for the Sunday night with-the-kid dinner. It’s pretty straight up American, very tasty, but a bit overpriced. The menu can be found here.

Their bread is good. I (and my two year-old) particularly liked the flat cracker-like bread.

“Tomato & Farmer’s Market Vegetable Salad.”

“Swan Depot Seafood Salad, jumbo shrimp, baby Maine shrimp, Dungeness crab,iceberg lettuce, 1000 island dressing, fresh dill.” This is essentially a crab and shrimp Louis salad. The seafood is very fresh, the dressing good, so if you are partial to Louis (and I am), then that’s all a good thing.

Fish & Chips, beer battered Alaskan halibut, fries, tartar sauce.” While overpriced, this is a very good fish and chips. The fish is very most and well cooked, the batter perfect, the fries crisp, and the tartar sauce very tangy.

“Short Rib Tacos, vegetable rice, black beans.” Interesting hybrid dish. Fresh corn tortillas, and soft rich short rib.

Paired with beans, creme fraiche, and pico de gallo. I had them cook the pico down because of my raw tomato hate. It tasted like oniony tomato soup.

Combined in the taco it was pretty delectable, mostly because of the rich tasty short rib. Perhaps a little avocado or cilantro might have made this perfect.

The small little bar. Not pictured here is that I had a nice “2006 Sancerre, Rolland Tissier et Fils.” A very crisp white, perfect with the salad. Not absolutely ideal for the short ribs, but it worked well enough.

This is a good little place, and the service is very accommodating. Despite the high price tag the kitchen has a “knack,” so I approve.