Rustic Canyon Winebar

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,, 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.

41 Comments Add yours

  1. javachik says:

    Excellent. I’ve made note for my next visit to Santa Monica because I love trout so much that I actually divorced ice cream to marry it. In second grade.

  2. Mudd says:

    dude, you’re awesome. i don’t know much about wine, but i love reading about food.

  3. Nathan says:

    I’m so glad you are finally doing this! 🙂

    Just out of curiosity, who was originally pulling for the lemon tart, and what was the other choice?

  4. Bentley says:

    It makes me so happy to read about someone enjoying food! I have such a hard time to get my friends to eat anything other than ‘man food.’ (Steaks and burgers.) If I mention goat cheese, they shut down.

    Plus, “I’m pretty sure I’d eat one of my socks if it was stuffed with cheese and fried” is something to live by.

  5. Pious Agnostic says:

    Wow, that must have been some trout!

    This was wonderful. Bookmarked!

  6. smithjones says:

    Fun to read! I like this blog already. Keep it coming!

  7. cjms11 says:

    Sad thing is, I’ve lived in LA my whole life (on the Westside, even; I rarely venture out of the box created by the Valley, the Pacific, the 10 and the 110) and I haven’t even heard of Rustic Canyon Winebar.

  8. Eridani says:

    Love it! That sounds amazing.

  9. Arcanum says:

    That sounds awesome! Shame it’s on the wrong coast. I’m definitely with you on the cheese-stuffed-and-deep-fried bit, and “alien flowers” sounds like a bonus to me.

    On a random tangent, since you seem to love wine: Have you tried mead? Beyond whatever you might encounter at a Renaissance faire, I mean.

  10. Brianna says:

    Just one more reason I have to travel half way across the world to visit LA again.

  11. Jann says:

    Yay! I am so glad you started your food blog. I think you have a talent for writing about food. And I think it is your fault I have a sudden craving for a lemon tart! Peace, love, and enjoy the next meal just as much as this one.

  12. fojoy says:

    The husband and I were in Santa Monica in January, I wish we had known about his place then because who knows when we’ll be back.
    And I’ve never tried a squash blossom, but you’re right, I would eat my toque if it was stuffed with goat cheese and deep fried!

  13. Lindsay says:

    You started your blog!!! ^_____^ I’m very excited to hear about food! I’ll have to be sure to read this before eating now, because your descriptions may have sent me into a drooling, hungry girl mode.

    And I agree about salad. If it is a fantastic salad, get ready for a scrumptious main course. Mind you, I made the best salad ever for myself (spinach leaves, hot corn-on-the-cobb, fresh uncooked peas, brie cheese, pecans and carrots) so I guess I must be a good cook too! ^____^

  14. Alexandra says:

    At some point, you’re going to have to share workout tips for those of us who try to emulate your eating habits.

  15. Dulcie says:

    Seriously jealous of that meal, and the wine sounds great, too!

  16. Sulien says:

    Thanks for sharing such a great review; I’ve got this bookmarked on my Crackberry for the next time I find myself in the great LA area!

    Seriously?! Los Feliz is not [i]that[/i] far from Santa Monica! I can tell you’re still not used to living in a place that’s so spread out as LA. I used to drive from La Puente to West Hollywood just to go to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore. 😉

    As for your food blog, I agree with Lindsay, I’m going to have to make sure I read this before dinner, because I’m convinced I’m starving after reading it and I had dinner only a couple of hours ago.

    Oh, lastly, I agree with Arcanum, you should try a good mead if you get the chance! I highly recommend [a href=””]Chateau Lorane[/a]’s meads, they are absolutely lovely (especially the Blackberry)! And if you get adventurous, you can always try making your own mead, if you’ve got the patience. 🙂 Just in case the html coding doesn’t work.

  17. Candace says:

    That sounds delish, but…

    You said no to Melisse?

    You said NO to Melisse?

    If Rustic Canyon compares, that’s all the endorsement I need.

  18. John says:

    Excellent. I don’t do fancy food but you make me wish I did. Be sure to tweet future postings here, Blaster, and any place else you post something. I always look forward to your writings. Thanks. JohnB

  19. Jennifer says:

    I’m going to live vicariously through you. I just moved to rural Nova Scotia and there is no decent eating to be found (unless I cook it myself!) within several hours of here.

    The best I’ve have in town is pizza and donairs which gets boring quickly.

    Happy blogging!

  20. norm says:

    Well, sign me up.

  21. Wonderfully writen and a joy to read! Can now add this blog to my List of Why Jewel Staite is Awesome! Keep ’em coming!

  22. mashby says:

    A woman after my own heart… and palette!

    Love the style of your review too — it’s akin to hearing a friend recount a good meal.

    Love it, keep it up!

  23. Amy Lucille says:

    Sounds like my kind of place. We are heading down to socal this April, and we must hit this place up.

  24. maiko says:

    ooh! i’m over in los feliz too… i hope you post reviews of places in the area, i think only special occasions can ever convince me to go to the west side hahaha! what’s your fave sushi restaurant out here?

  25. Jen says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere! Now I’m craving fish. I wonder if I can find a good trout recipe in one of my books…

  26. Kira says:

    I love trout. I love your writing . I love this blog. Don’t ever stop.

  27. Lupin says:

    Yum! I eagerly await more tales of culinary adventure. Photos of said adventures would be lovely too!

  28. Angela says:

    I think this place (and Huckleberry) is run or maybe owned by Stephen Nathan’s (Producer of the show Bones) daughter…He’s been torturing me with his tweets about it for a year now. It’s on my list if I ever make it out to California. I’m a single mom of 2 picky kids and just don’t get to experience real food like this…very jealous!

  29. Daniel says:

    I’m sold on just the squash blossoms…..those suckers are amazing when stuffed and fried…..I’m sicilian and they are hard/impossible to find. So going here my next trek to Santa Monica 🙂 …..Wine, zucchini blossoms and kickass desserts….sounds like heaven to me 🙂

  30. Daniel says:

    and your blog definitely has a future, your descriptive writing has me hungry now…and it’s after 11pm here…..keep it up Jewel!

  31. Brouke says:

    Christ, I was salivating over every detail of that meal. This blog is not going to be good for my diet.

  32. RaudyG says:

    Short-n-sweet, yet fun and informative. Very nice read Jewel. I’ve added this food blog to my Google Reader account so I will get flagged with each new post so I wont miss anything. I live on the East Coast so I will have to enjoy vicariously.

    (p.s., nice blog theme choice. It looks great on the iPhone as well. WordPress is a beautiful thing.)

  33. Magie says:

    Love the Blog! One suggestion is include pictures of the food when you can. I love seeing what it looks like.

  34. Jack says:

    I’m planning on visiting SoCal at some point soon. I’ll have to add this to my list of stops.

  35. Leo says:

    That sounds much better than a chocolate flavored protein cake…

    Way to go on starting the blog, looking forward to more

  36. Jessica O says:

    Sounds great! They should pay you for this blog.

  37. Heidi says:

    1) They sell squash blossoms at the farmer’s market when they’re in season!

    2) Is that Porto’s in your masthead?

  38. Karyn says:

    Anything covered in any type of cheese and deep fried is worth trying. Cheese rocks! And things that look/sound weird often taste great. Take zucchini cake. Sound strange? Yes. Delicious? Also yes. Keep it coming… my tastebuds are living vicariously through you on my student budget!

  39. Pip says:

    I’m so glad you are blogging again!!

  40. Tino says:

    I love your writing style! I mean it’s fun to read and you sound like you know how to eat. Life is beautiful when food is enjoyed properly 😀

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