Okay, here goes:
So, first shocking surprise: We checked out a new wine bar. (This is going to happen a lot.)
Well, new to us anyway. I can’t believe I’d never heard of this place before. This is exactly the sort of restaurant I would want in my neighborhood: classy, friendly, great food, and lights dim enough to hide your purple-mouth.
But it’s not in my neighborhood. It’s in Santa Monica. Which, when you live in Los Feliz, feels like the end of the earth, if the end of the earth had a marine layer. So naturally, we needed an excuse to venture that far. Luckily my husband Matt (he’s going to happen a lot too) had a meeting on the west side right in the middle of rush hour traffic, which meant we would have a couple of hours to kill somewhere before traffic died down. After consulting my trusty trifecta (Zagat, eat-la.com, and good ol’ yelp), we settled on the Rustic Canyon Winebar.
After ignoring Matt’s whinings about how we should just go to his favorite restaurant Melisse across the street so he can crack out on their lobster bolognese, we settled into the cozy little lounge at Rustic Canyon and ordered up a glass of wine: a delicious Bridesmaid sauvignon blanc/semillon from Napa Valley for me, and a “taster” of three reds of Matt. FYI the “taster” is not on the menu. Matt just likes to have servers go out of their way to bring him choices before he decides on (almost always) a Malbec.
Our trusty server suggested a few things to share on the relatively sparse seasonal menu, which sounded like a plan. We started off with the Coleman Farms lettuces, dressed with pickled shallots, parmesan, and mustard vinaigrette– basically all the best parts of a ceasar salad minus the goopy gross dressing and romaine out of the bag. This salad, for a salad, was pretty amazing. And in my experience, if the chef can rock a salad like that, you’re in for a good meal. Next up was the fried squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and mint, perfectly fried little morsels oozing with melty yummy cheesy goodness. If you haven’t had squash blossoms yet, don’t be frightened: yes, they look like orange alien flowers, but just try one. Plus, how can something be bad when you stuff it with cheese and deep fry it? I’m pretty sure I’d eat one of my socks if it was stuffed with cheese and fried.
Next up was the Niman Ranch lamb meatballs with a yogurt, pickled chili, and mint dipping sauce. Pretty delish, but a moot point compared to what was coming next. Freshly made ricotta gnocchi with a rabbit ragu dusted with parmesan sent both of us off into greedy gluttonous heaven, and I’m fairly certain it would have led to fisticuffs if it weren’t for the trout. Let me tell you about this damn trout: served whole, deboned for your lip-smacking pleasure, crispy-skinned and divine, stuffed with breadcrumbs, currants, capers, pine nuts, spinach, and just a hint of chili. How can a wine bar in Santa Monica have the best trout ever in life, you ask? Who cares? It was perfect and sweet and spicy and beyond satisfying. Trout, I love you.
After a friendly debate (we were buzzed at this point, on the food mostly, I swear), we decided on the lemon tart for dessert. And once again, our minds were blown. Flaky, buttery, sweet, surprisingly refreshing, and an all-around perfect way to end the meal. And here’s a bonus: they actually have a bakery down the street called Huckleberry where you can take some delectables to go! I’m going to be five hundred pounds!
But I digress. Suffice it to say, we’re now looking at real estate in Santa Monica.