MICHAEL’S SANTA MONICA
A NEIGHBORHOOD INSTITUTION SINCE ‘79
Michael's Santa Monica has been a favorite for diners since it opened back in 1979. Founder Michael McCarty is credited among being one of the people responsible for creating California cuisine, and his impressive menu, which changes with the season, is the living embodiment of local flavor offering fresh and innovative creations.
Michael’s prides itself with offering its guests the finest food and wine, presented with casual yet impeccable service in rooms filled with daring modern art. Serving classic, contemporary cuisine that constantly evolves with new ideas and ingredients, I strongly encourage guests to try Michael McCarty’s own Malibu Vineyard brand. A very delicious red wine, it is simple and will accentuate any plate you order.
The restaurant features a cool, cozy bar, a hip lounge and a romantic outdoor garden patio filled with works by some of today’s greatest contemporary artists, including David Hockney, Robert Graham, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, and Kim McCarty. During a recent visit, we dined al fresco and started our evening with the tasty Borracha Remolacha, made up of Revolucion Reposada tequila, Del Maguey Mezcal “Vida”, lime, agave nectar, beet juice and orange bitters. At $16 that may seem pricey for a cocktail but if you’re throwing caution to the wind, it is ever so savory and refreshing.
For starters we went with the Seasonal Oysters, combing large and small sized oysters, which proved very succulent. The half dozen oysters are served on the half shell with seasonal mignonette. At $18 a plate, they’re great to share.
Another terrific item that’s good to share is the Roasted d’Anjou Pear with Gioia Burrata cheese, Serrano ham, mint, and Saba. The cheese is extremely flavorful and went so well with a glass of Michael’s very own red.
You can’t go wrong with any of the Main dishes, which include Spiced Sonoma Duck Breat, Wisconsin Veal Ragu, Snake River Kurobata Pork Chop, Australian Lamb Shank, and 28-Day Dry-Aged Prime New York Steak. In the mood for fish, I found the Hawaiian Walu, with Romanesco-and-Cauliflower salad, toasted pine nuts, roasted grapes, Mascarpone, and mint, and fabulous dish. The Walu was fresh and extremely tender, and the roasted grapes were a wonderfully original touch. While maybe I should have paired this selection with a white wine, Michael’s red was a fine partner.
We also had the British Columbian King Salmon with toasted Farro, fines herbes, Maitake mushrooms, Manchego, Fennel Beurre Blanc, which was a light and healthy option. This, like the Hawaiian Walu, isn’t a plate that will leave you stuffed and ready for a food coma. Instead, it’s light and refreshing and completely satisfying.
Make sure to leave room for dessert, as the Bread Pudding, and Coconut Cream Pie are must-haves. You can really taste the coconut and this isn’t your typical diner, greasy spoon slice o’ pie. This one is tops. While Michael’s will unveil its Winter menu, certain items are favorites that will always remain, and I’m sure the new additions will consist of fresh and local treats. If you’re in the mood for a liquid dessert, which I always am, order the Pumpkin the Great, made with pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, Jason’s Spiced Rum, Germain-Robin Apple Brandy, and Cava. Served with a side of pumpkin seeds, this is dessert all onto itself. Sweet, yet with a slight punch, it’s a great way to cap off a wonderful evening.
Michael’s Restaurant is located at 1147 Third Street in Santa Monica. Call 310-451-0843. Hours: Lunch: Monday thru Friday 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner Monday thru Saturday 6p.m. to 10 p.m.