Time flies. It seemed incongruous to me this evening when I realized that it had been almost a year since my first meal at this then newly opened Westside bistro. Having dined here maybe four times since then, this was the perfect choice when a friend in the wine business visiting from Napa asked for a place to meet on the way to the airport. I live in Santa Monica. We were dining early. It made sense. We both found street parking at 6:30pm and were, maybe, the fourth table sat. When we left at 8:15pm there were maybe two tables empty. We didn't mind being sandwiched between two banquettes. Everyone was talking. There was a nice buzz and my friend was reminded of Zuni Cafe - L.A. style.
He wasn't far off. Fresh ingredients simply presented are the hallmark here. We started with a silky cauliflower soup with curry with the slightest chili bite, a beautiful and refreshing Japanese tomato salad with ricotta salada, a fresh capanota with herbed goat cheese and arugula, and a tangy ahi tartar. These are some of the most satisfying starters in town. My friend had the short ribs for $14.50 and I had the mushroom ravioli with brown butter and sage for $8. Both excellent. Portions are fitting the price and we didn't have room for dessert. My friend had a white wine that I can't, for the life of me, remember the name of and I had a bottle of sparkling water. Yes, it was offered at the top. No. I wasn't offended. People are nice here. Service was attentive. $65 for two before tip. I could go back tomorrow. Zuni's little brother.