With rising temperatures in West Hollywood; it’s time for a summer staycation at the beach. Recent renovations at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, and a huge influx in the dining scene, mean that all roads lead to Santa Monica.
Designed by L.A.-based residential interior designer Michael Berman, the new accommodations were inspired by the newly renovated Bungalow One – a customized three-bedroom which was Berman’s first hotel project and the only properties at the beach with bungalows in town. The décor is a blend of Malibu beach house chic and “surf modern” style. Originally added to the historic hotel in 1938, the secluded and private 32 bungalows were a hideaway for some of the most iconic stars of Old Hollywood including Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo, who would retreat to the Miramar where Jean Simmons resided for seven months.
Amid the Miramar gardens, all the bungalows offer private patios, with Southern California meets mid-century modern décor and there are four bi-level suites also in the mix. You will have access to the Bungalow Concierge Service, so be sure to book a table at Fig and grab a drink at The Bungalow by Brent Bolthouse, then burn it off with a fitness class by exhale mind body spa. (www.Fairmont.com/SantaMonica)
Of course, we love the small plates and trout roe dip a few blocks away at Aestus, but newer to the dining scene – and also walking distance from the property, Bryant Ng from the now defunct Spice Table downtown, has resurfaced at Vietnamese seafood heavy Cassia. While the Singaporean white pepper crab has been a big hit, you can also order Ng’s famous spicy chicken wings and standout new dishes such as the charcuterie fried rice. The outdoor patio benefits from the nearby ocean breeze and is a great place to perch for an evening with a cocktail when the interior crowd is booming.
The new developments on Montana, starting with wine bar friendly Ox & Son, has been a major surprise to the sleepy street but now Westiders are welcoming the recent opening of Forma. This Italian gem showcases the dalla forma technique of mixing fresh pasta in giant cheese wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, Romano or Pecorino Gran Cru before serving. What is more surprising is that no eatery in town has ever featured this delicious preparation in LA. Thankfully, Mario and Enzo Sabatini decided to change all that when they came over from “the old country” to carry on the classic tradition which can be mixed up with spaghetti, risotto with veal sauce, tortellini with mushrooms and rigatoni among others. Thanks to Executive Chef Piero Topputo, they also have great flatbreads, filet mignon tartare with avocado toast and an impressive wine list.
Taking over the old Parlor club space, Estate Restaurant + Bar is a sleek and modern global dining venue with Asian influences. Chef Hisashi Yoshiara mixes farm-fresh ingredients with Canadian scallops encrusted in shredded crispy potato crust atop a bed of edamame with green curry; sweet shrimp ‘mojito’ tossed in watermelon and cucumber; Alaskan black cod is served with grilled shitake mushroom salsa and whole branzino is doused with house made herb de Provencal. Other standouts include flash fried miso glazed Japanese eggplant and crispy wanton tacos served with fresh Hawaiian ahi tuna tartare. For large appetites, the double pork chop is served with roasted smashed kambocha pumpkin is a hearty meal. If you just want to craze at the bar, check out the daily happy hour menu.
A little further away in Venice, Celebrated chef and Southern California native Nyesha Arrington has opened LEONA a block from the beach. The restaurant focuses on Progressive Californian cuisine and has some of the chef’s ‘greatest hits’ that she has created at other venues including Wilshire in Santa Monica. Chicken ‘brick’ with layers of crispy chicken skin and slow roasted apricots, or honey mustard broiled black cod are signatures. While you will find healthy ingredients such as turmeric or ginger, and dietary restrictions are considered, they will not shy away from using butter, cream and other classic culinary styles when necessary. Amen! Starters include fish & chips made of whole crispy smelt finished with house fermented malt vinegar with Thai chili, or a whimsical take on the classic bacon and eggs with a soft cooked farm egg, wrapped in a nest of thinly sliced potato, floating in smoky bacon broth.
Back near the hotel, Red-O from West Hollywood has just set up an outpost on Ocean Avenue and Broadway across the street from the pier, which means you can now nibble on duck taquitos with guacamole and sip their signature Jalapeño margaritas while people watching with a sea view and cooling down breeze.