Santa Monica, California, January 24, 2014—
TIME TO CELEBRATE, so out to a vaunted nearby restaurant for a favorite pecadillo: rib-eye. I so wanted this place to live up to its reputation, but much seemed just a bit off — the Martini was skimpy, though exactly to my specifications; the atmosphere was neither rustic nor a canyon, but vaguely institutional lunchroom; the service was competent, but a little too hearty and brusque.
Then the chard came. It was absolutely delicious: long-cooked, tasting a bit of beef marrow, well salted, with enough of the pot-licquor to ease the feel. I could eat this every night.
The steak was sliced, perfectly au point, very slightly garlicky, under a fine marchand du vin sauce. The fries were curious: yes, Curtis, a little soggy at first, but then not at all, quite crisp in fact. I can only think some were allowed to clump on the plate. It's true: fries have to be handled perfectly. It's not hard to do that, fortunately: but apparently any kitchen can slip up now and then.
We had a wheatberry pilaf, too, nicely flavored with aromatics — carrot, parsley, scallions. Dessert was a sort of apple turnover, not memorable. On the whole, not a place living up to its advance billing, not tonight, at least…
* Rustic Canyon Wine Bar, 1119 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica; 310-393-7050