A fun and interesting new restaurant in Santa Monica. Very accomodating and friendly service.
The food. The popcorn - caramel corn with bacon and a little chili. Kind of a must-order item. So far I get it every time. And it always get finished whether I'm solo or sharing.
Love the charcuturie plate - combos of various bruschettas, meats and cheeses. This might be my favorite. I get the iberica jamon everytime because...well...life is short. Fill it with ham.
The lamb belly was quite good, and I enjoyed it but I didn't really taste the lamb. I wouldn't say I was disappointed, just a different expectation. Would I get it again? Probably, but I might try something else first.
The duck skewers in tamarind were met with the same expecation missed. Tasted like chicken, not duck, but still tasty and well-executed. I see the menu says chicken skewers so either I had a very rare acid flashback and mis-read the menu (not the typical acid flashback where my cat flies around the room chasing giant mosquitos) - or they changed the menu. I think there was a change. And I got the chicken (since so many things taste like chicken - rattlesnake, squirrel, rabbit. Who knows?
Crispy pig's ears - strings of ...you know what fried to a chewy crisp. My date - a self-avowed food had never tried such a thing and was a little intimidated, but she gave it ago after a little prodding and didn't dislike them. I liked them - especially with the saffron aioli (which came a little late - wait for it - definitely upshifts to a better experience.
The roasted english peas - roasted right in their little pods with mint, salt and I think butter/olive oil? When they came I was hungry and engaged in my dates story about her sordid past. Butter? Uh...Oil? And then what did you do after he got out of prison? They are messy and worth it. Just dive it, you have to break eggs to make an omelette and you have to get your fingers dirty eating T & R's roasted Endlish peas. There might bve a way to eat them with fork and knife. As a challenge. But then you can't cram as many into your mouth as fast - you're forced to go into a subtly slower savor the moment mode.
The grilled asparagus was very good, but to be honest, I've been playing with a similar dish using sous vide egg yolks, a black truffle salt and pancetta, smoked pancetta, Farmer John's Bacon, and guanciale. With big fat asparagus from the SM Farmer's Market - and poached the veg in butter, sugar and salt. I prefer mine, but really, when you're out - there is very good.
Lastly - the charred Ocotopus. Had the first time, had it the second, looking forward to my third, and fourth. and so on.
I like this place a lot! My pseudo-foodie date was delighted and impressed. And I made her venture a little out of her comfort zone and eat a little pig's ear. Why were smooching like teenagers while waiting for the car. A good date all around!