The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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Page 18 of 134

BRIEF ENCOUNTER O n an unassuming strip of Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica stands a pink build- ing with a neon cocktail sign. Even though the Buffalo Club opened in 1994, the restaurant and bar evoke an era reminiscent of the early 1960s: Entering the building feels like taking a step onto the set of Mad Men given the dark, romantic lighting, white tablecloths, and leather banquettes. I wouldn't have batted an eye if Don Draper himself had been sitting at the bar in one of his signature suits, smoking a cigarette and drinking a whiskey neat. The Buffalo Club's cocktail menu is an homage to pre-Prohibition cocktails, including expertly made Manhattans and Aviations. Executive Chef Patrick Healy's recently revamped food menu also adheres to classics like cassoulet or tableside boeuf bourguignon, which he learned to make with help from Julia Child herself. For those seeking something a little more modern, a burrata and beet salad or grilled Thai snapper can also be found on the menu. Go for the atmosphere—stay for the drinks! Meanwhile, down by the beach, fine-dining restaurant 1 Pico in the chic Santa Monica hotel Shutters on the Beach recently welcomed new Chef de Cuisine David Almany, formerly of Osteria Mozza in L.A. and Singapore. While hotel fare can often be staid and boring, the new menu at the 25-year-old establishment spotlights fresh seafood and Mediterranean flavors through striking dishes like squid ink chitarra, spot prawns, and chili flakes or New Zealand grouper with a spicy tomato marmalade, tahini, and oregano. With a bar menu featur- ing seasonal cocktails and a section dedicated to Margaritas—we're partial to the Japanese with Kikori Whiskey, El Silencio Mezcal, and yuzu liqueur—and a picture-perfect view of the beach, 1 Pico is a must for summer dining. Finally, with young Head Chef Miles Thompson's recent nomination for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award and all the accompanying buzz, you'd think classic eatery Michael's was the hottest new restau- rant opening in the city. A recent visit for happy hour on a Tuesday meant a packed bar, which is understandable given the daily $1.79 cocktail (one per guest, please) and casual, tasty dishes like Sichuan pork dumplings with black vinegar sauce and a sandwich featuring muffuletta from local butch- ers Peads and Barnetts. A special Negroni was also being served in honor of Negroni Week. Happy hour soon shifted to a sam- pling of some of Thompson's newest dinner dishes, including peruviana beans with black sesame, cherries, and chili oil and pappardelle with rabbit legs, thyme, and porcini. And no meal at Michael's would be complete without the fantastic pork collar, currently on the menu in a new iteration with sword lettuce tonnato, pickled wasabi, and black vinegar. —Jesse Hom-Dawson Michael's Head Chef Miles Thompson's newest happy hour menu features a sandwich with muffuletta from Santa Monica butchers Peads and Barnetts. Classic Santa Monica Restaurants Highlight Revamped Spring Menus Fresh seafood dishes like squid ink chitarra with spot prawns are the focal point at 1 Pico in Santa Monica, CA. 16  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018

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