By Jack Neworth
The beloved Yogi Berra, who passed in September at age 90, was a Hall of Fame catcher with the N.Y. Yankees. But he was also admired for his post-baseball career. He wrote nine books of hilarious “Yogi-isms,” ludicrous, even contradictory thoughts that, upon reflection, make perfect sense. One is titled, “You Can Observe a Lot by Watching.” (Redundant but true!)
My favorite Yogi-ism is, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Actually, Yogi lived on a cul-de-sac. So, when you came to his fork in the road, either way was the right way.
For years, Ocean Park had its own “Fork in the Road,” a popular restaurant on Main Street. Unfortunately, in 2015, an extensive kitchen fire forced its closing. Undeterred, owners Tom Elliott and Spoon Singh, recruited an exciting new chef who re-energized the menu. They refurbished the kitchen, designed a hip dining room and Fork in the Road, risen from ashes, is back better than ever!
It’s remarkable how many fine dining restaurants there are in Ocean Park, i.e. Chaya Venice, Chinois, La Vecchia and more. After eating at their Grand Opening, I think we can add Fork to the list.
In 1974, when I moved to Ocean Park, known as “Dogtown” (not because we loved canines) Main Street was rather industrial. There was Barrett’s Appliances, Feldman Glass and Benny’s Barber Shop. (Kindhearted Benny, a German POW in WW2, gave homeless free haircuts.)
Main Street in the 1940’s included a gas station, a butcher’s shop (live chickens in the window!) and a bookie. Main today has never been this prosperous. And, for foodies, it’s never been more delicious.
The Fork’s exterior is adorned with simply a gigantic steel fork. (Yogi would have loved it!) Inside it’s charming and warm, complete with a wood stove used for flatbread and chicken. There’s a long “community table” for friends, and neighbors they don’t know yet, to socialize while dining, as well as intimate “private tables.”
The Fork’s “California-Mediterranean” cuisine is elegant and yet the friendly staff make the Fork feel like a local hangout. Maybe because a number live here.
For example, Executive Chef, Marco Manca, walks to work and co-owner, Spoon Singh, skateboards! (Spoon at the Fork? Trust me, there’s a “knife” joke there somewhere.) Spoon also owns an organic farm in Ojai where he grows produce used at the Fork. Or as one review put it, “From the farm to the fork.”
In the way of background, Chef Manca grew up in Tuscany, Italy. Inspired by his grandmother’s baked bread and organic produce, Manca attended five years of culinary school and became an veritable artist with food. He worked in some of Europe’s finest restaurants before coming to Santa Monica in 2007.
Co-owner, Tom Elliott’s culinary roots were nurtured in his family kitchen in Colorado. After graduating from U. of Colorado, Boulder (organic foodie mecca of the Rockies) he moved to our neighboring Venice. Combining the environment and healthy food, Tom founded the “Wild Pacific Fish Company” to supply sustainable seafood to sushi bars all over L.A.
But it was while on a sailing adventure with Spoon that the pair dreamed of a beach-side organic restaurant. Thus, in 2010, they launched the Venice Ale House, now a landmark on Ocean Front Walk. (They also own Austin Ale House and Bank of Venice.)
Becky Newman is Fork’s General Manager and Mixologist. Becky can select the perfect wine to accompany your dinner and also focuses on unique, fresh ingredients in recreating classic cocktails.
Combine Chef Marco and Becky’s expertise with co-owners Spoon and Tom’s success and social consciousness. Then add professional and amiable servers; charming hostesses; hard-working bus boys and dishwashers; and the result is the amazing Fork in the Road team.
The Fork’s mouth-watering menu options are varied and numerous. Naming but a few, they include: Spicy Bloody Mary Spaghetti Squash; Margherita Flatbread; Wild Caught Salmon; 8 oz. New York Strip Steak; and Caesar Salad.
But, as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. (Actually, Fork serves a scrumptious Chocolate Butterscotch pudding desert!) Simply said, fork’s artistically prepared and presented food will be a feast for your senses of smell, sight and taste.
With the above in mind, my advice for when you arrive at the fork in the road, just open the door and come on in! I bet you’ll be glad you did. Just tell them Yogi sent you.
Fork in the Road is at 2424 Main St (310) 450-2244 www.Forkintheroadsantamonica.com on Facebook & Instagram. Jack is at firstname.lastname@example.org.