The June gloom came early this year in May, but now that the fog has seemingly lifted back to blue skies, it’s time to break-away to the beach and we give you seven great new reasons to dine by the Santa Monica shore this summer.
TŪMBI Modern Indian
From the man behind Tantra in Silver Lake and India’s Oven, who also happens to be the owner of Sirtaj Hotel in Beverly Hills, TŪMBI’s is channeling all the regions of India for their new modern meets traditional venture in Santa Monica right off Ocean Avenue. Inspired by his travels to India where he sampled everything from street food to 5-star restaurants, co-owner RJ Singh has rounded-up all the flavor profiles that best represent the country.
Chef Imran Mookhi worked at Michelin starred Tamarind of London (located in Long Beach) where he received the Golden Foodie Award for Best Indian Chef in Southern California. Here, the chef combines California ingredients with the myriad of exotic Indian flavors for wafer thin and chewy cheese dosa with farmer’s paneer and spiced ricotta is so addictive you might end up ordering another one just to keep the peace with your dining companions. Other standouts include the butter chicken with tomato curry, Goan prawn masala with coconut milk, chili, onion-tomato masala and curry leaves and the chocomossa: which is a genius mashup of warm chocolate stuffed samosas topped with vanilla ice-cream that are an exceptional ending and soothing compliment to the hearty dishes.
Los Angeles is in need of more good Indian restaurants and Tumbi gives us a reason to venture to the westside this summer.
Puntas Cabras Reimagined
One of our favorite Baja inspired seafood focused taquerias has grown up into a fully-fledged restaurant with a bar – but you can still get those wonderful tacos in the fast-casual section of the restaurant at this new incarnation. The multiple concepts fill every craving and is perfect whether you want a quick lunch, drink after work, or a full dinner menu at this easy access 10th and Broadway location. Some of our favorites from Chef Daniel Snukal were the stuffed baked crab with roasted chile and cilantro; skillet served queso topped with chorizo and poblanos; stuffed lobster tacos and live scallop ceviche with sea salt and chile powder. To accompany, order “the best cocktail in the world” with mezcal, London Dry Gin, drunken cherry, apricot, orange, apple and lemon. This won our vote to replace a typical margarita but the “PC” version on the menu with sex wax is a date conversation starter for certain. www.puntacabras.com
New Chef at Shutters, 1 Pico
One of the best ocean view restaurants in the city, with sumptuous interiors and a nod to the nautical by famed interior designer Michael S. Smith, now has a new chef from a seasoned past that includes a successful reign as Executive Chef at Angeleno in Singapore, as well as Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles.
Chef de Cuisine David Almany’s new menu is very vegetable friendly with a focus on market driven, California costal cuisine but we spotted a bit of the new Mediterranean influences also taking center stage. Excellent examples of the Cal-Med fare on offer now include artichoke flatbread with smoked mozzarella and sundried tomatoes; 100 tomatoes salad with Persian cucumbers, red onion, mint, parsley and lemon yogurt; and the roasted carrots with cilantro, harissa and labne and Burrata with marinated beetroot, orange and pistachio dukkah. Meat lovers can savor a healthy portion of charred lamp chops with rosemary garlic marinade and almond salsa verde. Seafood lovers will be satiated with New Zealand snapper crudo seasoned with pink peppercorns, new olive oil and lime for a light starter, or squid ink chitarra with spot prawns and alio e olio. For a heartier dish try the New Zealand Grouper served in a cast iron skillet with spicy tomato marmalade with tahini and oregano.
One of the most inventive barman in the city, Vincenzo Marianella (Copa D’Oro), has revamped the cocktails offerings at 1 Pico, that highlight a Summer Smash with Sipsmith Gin, Saint Germain, basil, mixed berries, lemon wedges and grapefruit bitters, but we highly recommend the Japanese margarita with Kikori Japanese whiskey, El Silencio mescal, yuzu liquor, lime juice, agave syrup.
And, for the perfect beachside dessert, end with a salted caramel sundae that includes candy popcorn, chocolate brownie and caramel ice cream that will keep you lingering long past the sunset.
Buffalo Club Introduces Wine Wednesday
This swanky Santa Monica super-club institution is still going strong after 24 years with the same veteran chef, Patrick Healy, and table side dining staples using American and French techniques. Where else can you get a classic pan-roasted Dover sole delicately and meticulously deboned and served with sides at your table? They also do a slow-braised beef bourguignon sealed with salt dough that is cracked open right in front of your eyes before served on the bone china plates. The food is still enough to keep you coming back, but this old school haunt is still as glamorous and exciting as when it opened decades ago. Jack Nicholson might still be a regular, but the bar crowd has an influx of a younger generation and now they have just reopened the patio for summer.
Kicking off on June 6th, enjoy a lingering few hours from 6-8pm for the new Wine Wednesdays program. This series gives guests a chance to enjoy 6 generous pours of wine for just $25 against the beautiful backdrop of the restaurant’s English style Garden Courtyard hideaway that we bet you didn’t even know existed. The Buffalo Club’s Level 2 Certified Sommeliers will be pouring domestic and international producers, from New World to Old World, including boutique and small production growers and wineries from California to around the globe.
CHAYA becomes Modern Izakaya
Speaking of institutions, after decades of cosmos and sushi at the bar, we will always have a soft spot for this 30-year- old institution on Main Street bordering Santa Monica and Venice.
The concept has flipped to a Japanese izakaya which is traditionally a drinking establishment serving small tapas-style plates. CHAYA Modern Izakaya elevates the experience by introducing Japanese-Californian cuisine with handcrafted cocktails, premium spirits, Japanese Whisky selection, eclectic sake and wine collection, Japanese and local craft beers.
Expect daily Omakase Menus, showcasing a sampling of the best bites and specials of the day, allowing guests to enjoy individual culinary adventures by way of technique, presentation and flavor from a raw section starting with the seared albacore “aburi” with ponzu, serrano chili, and garlic chips. For an array of salads and veggies, try the chrysanthemum salad prepared with Enoki mushrooms and bacon vinaigrette, or the crispy sunchoke featuring tomatillo miso, crème fraiche and ikura. From the ocean comes an assortment of special selections such as the grilled octopus accompanied by papaya and yuzu tamari. For meat and poultry, the grilled Jidori chicken dressed with lemon kosho is on offer; for rice, noodles, soup the Wagyu chazuke is comprised of rice, dashi tea and shiitake. Rolls and hand rolls include the celery root remoulade and spicy pollock roe and the spicy scallop lettuce hand roll.
This hidden gem offers classic French food with a modern twist in a contemporary environment with a wall of unique water on tap. Yes, this might be the only concept of its kind anywhere in the city.
French owners Marc Mubarak and Chef Thierry Babet decided to create a water bar with global offerings from Argentina to Croatia. Of course, there is also plenty of wine to accompany the cheese imported from France and fresh baked local bread courtesy of “La Boulangerie de Paris” bakery. The French onion soup is a standout but you can also order a massive croque madame served on a wooden cutting board, steak frites or the plain burger with its foie gras cream and Emmental cheese, which are good example of how they mix French and American cuisine seamlessly.
The atmosphere is lively and you’ll want to stay to watch the chef in action just behind the open bar-kitchen concept surrounded by nods to French and American street culture such as NIKE & J O R D A N shoes and a playlist featuring a variety of rap & hip-hop. www.air-food.com
Brendan Collins Brunch at Wilshire
This Santa Monica mainstay has seen a few chefs come and go over the years – including Nyesha Arrington now killing it at Native nearby, so we were happy to hear that another notable toque had taken over the reins. British Chef Brendan Collins, last seen at Birch in Hollywood, has brought his talents to breathe new life into the menu. If you’re craving one of the best “hangover” burgers in town topped with bacon and a fried egg, fish-n-chips in blonde ale batter, poppy seed pancakes with English cream or tender steak and eggs, pull up a seat on the outdoor patio. You can also order a full English breakfast with beans, crab Benedict or a lobster cobb. For a major feast, dig into the traditional Sunday roast complete with perfectly baked, fluffy Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and your choice of beef, crispy skin chicken or salmon. It’s a hearty portion, so bring your friends and get a round of bottomless mimosas, pronto. http://wilshirerestaurant.com/