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Restaurants & Bars 8

Michael's Santa Monica Revisited - Long

LesThePress | May 17, 200411:33 AM

We started going to Michael’s shortly after it opened in 1979.

The food was always exceptional, atmosphere pleasant and we always had good service. The portions were never large and we usually came out about $100 per person. Since it was the best food around, we went often through the early 80’s, until the prices escalated to the point I did not enjoy paying that much for so little food, regardless of how wonderful it was.

Well, after about a 20-year absence, we tried it again last Saturday night. We were a party of three and had 7:30pm reservations. We were seated immediately on the patio (as requested). A server immediately asked for our drink orders and if he should open the bottle of wine I brought. We each ordered a martini and I agreed the wine should be opened to ‘breathe’. He took the wine and our excellent Martini’s arrived shortly. A few moments later the wine arrived decanted.

I had the Honey-Roasted Quail salad ($18) and the others had the Hazel nut coated goat cheese ($16). The goat cheese, which actually tasted more like a tangy bree, was excellent. My Quail was delicious, however, there were only 4 extremely small pieces of Quail, basically 2 bites each.(about $5 a bite). The very light balsamic vinigeretee was tasty but could’ve used a little more. The quail were sooo good, but the portion was so small it left me wanting more.

For the main course I had the lamb rack ($39), my wife had the pork tenderloin ($32) and our guest the Maine Lobster ($39). The lamb was two (double) rib chops. Good, but definitely nothing special. I’ve had much better in many places (Charlie G’s, Ruth Chris, etc.) at much lower prices. The small portion of Au Gratin potato was tasty, but again smallish.

I had some of my wife’s pork, it was again okay, but really nothing special. The pork I make at home is better at no where near the cost. I did not taste the lobster, however our friend said it was delicious.

For desert I had the Valrohna Chocolate cake ($9) and a Bailey’s. The other’s ordered the apple tarte and assorted cookies. I only had the cake and enjoyed it.

While the service was basically very good, it was not without flaws. We were served bread and butter shortly after siting down. However, after the bread and butter were gone it was quite a long time until new bread was served, and no butter was served again. Also, long after our Martini’s were gone, no one poured the wine until I finally asked. The server never poured it again, so I had to do it. At these prices I shouldn’t have to ask or do it myself.

Side note: While we were dining Michael (McCarty) came by and introduced himself and asked how everything was. He was charming and pleasant and we never met him all the times we went in the 80’s, so it was kind of a treat.

All in all I doubt we’ll be returning soon. The food was overall not as exceptional as I remember it and for that kind of $$ I guess I want more food. The tab, with tip, was $340 for the 3 of us. I expected more.

Also back then we used to eat at Valentino’s a lot. We also haven’t been there for about 20 years, but based on the recent positive reviews on this board we’re going to try it again Sat. night. I will report next week.

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