By Merv Hecht
If you are not looking for it you probably would not notice Kreation near the corner of 10th and Montana in Santa Monica. And if you look at their menu, you won’t find the address.
It is literally a hole in the wall, with a few tables on the sidewalk, and a long narrow corridor leading to a small room in the back.
Food might be best described as New Age with a Persian accent. Clearly a lot of vegans and others on special diets love this place.
The most popular dish seems to be chicken kebabs, spiced with tumeric.
There are lots of salads, and some excellent dips. The last time I was there I had some hummus, eggplant dip, and grilled corn on the cob.
The six soup choices on the menu are clearly for the new age group.
One of the best features is the juice list.
I admit to ignorance of many of the names, but I’ve had great Coconut milk and smoothies. There are about three dozen juices on the menu.
There is a surprising extensive menu for such a small kitchen, lot of salads, wraps, and plates, and 18 choices for breakfast alone.
The lox plate at breakfast looked great, and you can order any kind of coffee. We ate well for $45.
The restaurant is open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. I love those hours!
The next day, on the way to see an opera, we had an early dinner at Patina, clearly one of the best (and most expensive) French restaurants in town.
Of course there aren’t many French restaurants around any more.
The ambiance, the service, the soft music, the widely spaced tables, the friendly and helpful wine steward, and the beautiful cheese cart—all this was perfect. There is little to complain about— but trust me, I can.
I hate restaurants that only offer a fixed price menu instead of a la carte selections.
Sometimes I like to order two appetizers for my meal, and sometimes just one plate plus the cheese carte.
And I hate wine lists that cater to people interested in spending $500 or more for a bottle of wine. Who wants to go over a list of a dozen Côte Rõtie wines at around $1,000 a bottle or more? Why are the delicious Syrah-Grenache wines of Provence missing?
Where are the well-priced Malbecs from Argentina? Note that even the Rothschild family has wine holdings in both of those areas. If those wines are good enough for the Rothschild family they should be good enough for Patina.
After being unable to find a reasonably priced wine on the extensive list, I threw myself on the mercy of the wine stewardess, who did find an almost reasonably priced half-bottle of Merry Edwards California Pinot noir at $45.
But it’s disappointing to have to order a California wine in a high-end French restaurant.
And so we come to the food. Individually the quality was first class. But when I looked at my two slices of (American) Waygu beef with a few pieces of some fried vegetable on the side and a weird Parmesan strip with little balls of mashed celery—I felt sorry for the beef, which I am sure felt lonely.
There was one delicious piece of well-cooked beef in gravy (gravy is not sauce) in the middle of the plate.
But the key entrée was bare.
In France there would be a great sauce on or next to a lean cut of beef like this, a beautiful timbale of some vegetable soufflé on the side of the plate, and some potato au gratin on a separate side dish.
Lean cuts of rare beef don’t have much flavor and beg for sauce. The braised beef gravy was not enough, and personally I found two beef preparations overkill.
Was it worth over $300? I guess so, once in a while. But I still remember all the great meals we’ve had in France. I’ve lived in France, and this wasn’t France.
MY LONELY WAYGU BEEF AT PATINA
1023 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403; 310-458-4880
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 141 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988 he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book is “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3d edition” available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Send your comments to: email@example.com.