THIRD STREET — At Michael’s the magic word isn’t “please.” It’s “burrata.”
The restaurant that pioneered fresh, seasonal California cuisine is offering its customers a complimentary farm-to-table bar bite of their choice with the purchase of mixologist Jason Robey’s farm-to-glass signature cocktails. All you have to do is say “burrata” while chilling in the revamped bar/lounge.
The happy hour special is offered Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to close during the month of June.
Cocktails feature fresh fruit juices, vegetables and herbs, along with clean spirits and even some applewood-smoked bacon. Combine those flavors with some thyme frites or duck confit with pickled chili slaw or a nice tuna poke with apple, jalapeño and some ginger-soy and you’ve got a flavor explosion.
Robey, formerly of Death & Co.’s Bar & Kitchen in Downtown Los Angeles’ O Hotel, uses seasonal herbs and fruits grown on the restaurant’s new rooftop garden, along with produce from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.
Drinks range in price from $12 to $16.
Zengo is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants for its daring menu, which fuses Latin flavors with Asian cuisine. I’m a sucker for the chicken wings, fried until crisp and dripping with tangy heat that awakens the taste buds. And don’t get me started on the charred tuna wonton tacos; so light and refreshing thanks to the guacamole and mango salsa, while the wonton shell brings a nice crunch.
Now the Santa Monica Place eatery has introduced a new tasting menu highlighting, of all things, sugarcane. Guests can enjoy dishes like scallop Tiradito paired with prickly pear Caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaca sugar cane rum), and grilled flank steak lettuce wrapped with Oronoco Rom rum from Brazil.
The menu is available through June and is $35 per person, and $55 paired with spirits.
For Sunset Park residents and the suits who work in the nearby business park, the Ocean Park Cafe has become a staple over the last five years. Whether it’s lunch on the run or a lazy Sunday brunch, you always leave satisfied and full. The service is friendly, the atmosphere unpretentious and the food is delicious, reminding you of the dishes your mom used to make growing up, but only fresher and with a little more flavor (sorry mom, but you still make a great meatloaf). My favorite is the hearty breakfast burrito, but I know others are down with the turkey pesto wrap. I don’t get much time to have lunch, so I mainly stop by for breakfast on weekends when I can relax and read the paper.
The restaurant was recently renovated and has a look as fresh as their ingredients that pays homage to Santa Monica’s past with custom crafted wooden Pullmans inspired by lifeguard stations that populated local beaches in the 1930s and ‘40s. There’s also a wallpaper mural created from a 1938 photograph of Santa Monica lifeguards paddle-boarding. Buster Crabbe, a Santa Monica lifeguard and Olympic gold medalist (later of “Flash Gordon” fame) is featured. The outside has the feel of vintage bungalow from the Arts & Crafts movement.
In addition to the remodel, Chef Fanali has introduced a family-style supper menu on Sundays that includes homemade spaghetti and meatballs (veal, pork, beef), and a nice baby spinach salad with grape tomatoes, shaved parmesan Reggiano with Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
The restaurant does feel like family, and that’s because it’s owned by one. Mark Verge of Westside Rentals fame runs the joint along with Fanali. Verge can be found at the cafe daily chowing down along with his kids, parents and childhood friends. It’s one of those great local spots that make you feel at home.
For more info go to www.theopcafe.com.