When the Caruso organization opened Palisades Village, I was very impressed with the architecture and the overall structure. However, I was disappointed in the selection of restaurants. I had hoped for good BBQ, which is in short supply on the Westside, and a high-end Greek restaurant, of which, so far as I know, there is none west of Beverly Hills. I hoped that the signature restaurant space would be an upscale French restaurant with a first-class French chef.

None of my dreams were realized. What opened was a mediocre Italian restaurant (there are already about eight of them in the Palisades and only the Lord knows how many in Santa Monica). Then there is a very mediocre, overpriced hamburger place; a beautiful British themed casual restaurant; and a good-looking Sushi bar manned by a staff of talented Korean chefs.

It’s clear that Caruso’s team knows what they are doing. The Palisades Village is now the “go to” spot for Westside families. And the food selections are improving. The shops are perfect for residents of the Palisades and north Santa Monica. I find that even the best department stores have recently declined in customer service and have become “self-service.” To be able to shop in small boutiques where you get personal, competent service is a pleasure. As far as I can tell, shopping at Palisades Village often rivals the chic offerings of Rodeo Drive.

The biggest draw though, is the lovely little park located at the center of the Village. On weekends, it is filled with kids and dogs running after each other and having a wonderful time. When the kids tire out they can get a first-class ice cream cone at McConnell’s, or a delicious piece of chocolate at See’s. There is a good coffee shop and a number of excellent places for a snack or light lunch. There’s the upscale and organic Erewhon Market. Recently, a little taco place opened with premium Mexican offerings that are delicious. The British themed restaurant, the Draycott, has upped the level of their menu offerings and one can get a very good steak or a well-prepared fish course with a good bottle of wine. But stay away from their more complex offerings since their chef does not appear to be trained as well for those dishes. In my view, the top restaurant is the Blue Ribbon Japanese restaurant.

We’ve gone many times to the small Sushi Don on Monument Street, across from the Palisades Village. Their fish is top quality, and their prices are very reasonable. But there is little outside seating, no alcoholic drinks (you can bring your own), and the restrooms are a mile away – almost.

The Blue Ribbon is a beautiful restaurant both inside and on the outside patio, with top quality sushi and other Japanese dishes. The plates are esthetically presented and include some of my favorite delicacies such as whole crab, tempura, miso soup, and the sushi bowls. Yes, it’s pricey, but not unexpected for dining of this quality in the Palisades.

Another upscale Italian restaurant is due to open soon, which will also enhance the Village. I hope they set their prices high so that all the other Italian restaurants in town don’t go out of business.

The bottom line is that even though my dream of BBQ, Greek and French dining options were not met by the Village, it’s still a huge success. The Palisades has been transformed for the better, and I find myself there more and more.

After note: part of my dream has come true this month: a Mediterranean restaurant has opened on Monument Street and it looks GREAT! Stay tuned next month.

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 “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3rd Edition” is available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Please send your comments to: mervynhecht@yahoo.com