LOCAL kitchen + wine bar

A Taste of Dawn

LOCAL kitchen + wine bar

More than your average eatery …

photos by Dawn Garcia

 

Santa Monica is a city plentiful of food, gorgeous scenery, and intriguing cultural events. There is never a shortage of things to discover and today was no exception. Off to explore the cuisine of LOCAL Kitchen + Wine Bar, we arrive for our 5:30pm reservation.

The minute you park and pass the wood planked exterior, you round the corner into the entrance of LOCAL Kitchen & Wine Bar and are greeted with a single message: SMILE. That genuinely sets the stage for an evening that will be one to remember. As we walked inside, Chef Stephen Murray comes out to say hello. There is something familiar about him and I remember he used to be at Studio at Montage Laguna Beach. We are led inside to our table and immediately meet our server Stefanie.

With a joyful disposition and keen sense of humor, she guides us as we begin our ascent into the menu:

1st thing’s first: Water. Sparkling.

Next: A glass of bubbles and an in-house Italian soda for my daughter.

 

Bubbles: Roederer Est. Brut Anderson

Crisp and a bit on the sweet side, this prepared the palate for what would be an extensive tasting.

 

Italian soda: A light version of a Sprite with a much more natural essence that pleased the ever-changing tastes of a 9 year-old.

The menu is broken down into segments beginning with “bites” on down to “main courses”. Sprinkled in between area great many options that work best as shared plates.

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Oyster: blood orange, aqua pazzo, mint

This was a rather interesting composition of flavor and one I’m pleased to say I’ve never had before. The oyster is fresh and cleaned to perfection with the perfect cut of citrus and the surprise of the blood orange giving it an element of sweetness followed by the herbal pinch of fresh mint.

 

Fontina stuffed castelvetrano olives

These were interesting. Not necessarily my favorite but certainly a new twist on olives.

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Warm olive oil flatbread, herbs, parmesan spuma

For a girl allergic to wheat, I risked it for one small bite of this. The scent alone tempted me and I must admit that it would have been worth it to eat this entire thing. I managed restraint but the fondue was lovely as was the entire makeup of the flatbread. It was bursting with flavor!

 

COCKTAIL: Fig & Thyme

{Boyd and Blair vodka, earl grey, citrus, egg white}

I LOVED this drink. It had a sense of complexity and took me back to my days in Ireland. Just seemed like the perfect cocktail to enjoy while overlooking endless fields of green, in endearing company.

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Baby Tuscan kale salad, bagna cauda, seckle pear, fresh goat cheese

This was a delightful salad. It was a finely tuned marriage of sweet, tart, creamy and earthy.

 

Monterey calamari, capers, preserved lemon, radish

In fairness, Chef wasn’t too pleased with the texture of this batch of calamari and I’d have to agree. Sometimes, the catch of the day just isn’t as spot on as it can be. Aside from that, the capers, preserved lemon and radish was light and fragrant.

 

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COCKTAIL: Rosemary Bourbon Sour

{Bourbon, lemon, rosemary}

This is a winter drink if ever there was one. One sip and the culmination of ingredients take you to a place in time when people gathered near a fire and listened to deep seeded blues and enjoyed unfiltered conversation.

 

Lamb meatballs, cauliflower, pinenuts, pecorino gremolata

Meatballs in general are a very personal taste. You either love them or you don’t. I appreciated the blend of flavor between sweet and spicy but for my personal tastes, I think I’d pass on this batch as I prefer spicy.

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Risotto, muschroom ragu, parmesan, herb pasata

Plainly put, this was heaven. Gorgeous, bright green emanates throughout, the parmesan leant itself to a balance of flavor and punch that made my taste buds happy, and the mushroom ragu was absolute perfection. Risotto is a dish that requires love and patience and this risotto was one of the most flavorful I’ve had. I will definitely be back for more.

 

Pappardelle, prosciutto and veal Bolognese, parmesan

Another great dish. This was constructed with heart and boldness and every single bite makes you long for the one to follow. The pasta was cooked just so and had traces of buttery finesse that rounded this tasty meaty dish out.

 

Margherita Pizza: tomato, basil, mozzarella

My daughter ate EVERY SINGLE PIECE. That should say everything. The pizza dough itself was light with that trace of wood-fire smokiness that allows pizza to shine. She couldn’t say enough about how good this was.

 

WINE: JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon ‘13

You can’t really go wrong with a glass of JUSTIN Cab. It’s rich and bold on the nose and this blend is a go-to for a good red. Hints of vanilla, black cherry, blackcurrant, and even cinnamon come together with this cab.

 

Dry Aged New York Strip: green beans, crème fraiche, crisp shallot, smoky jus

I devoured this NY strip. Cooked at medium rare (chef’s preference), every piece was tender and melted in my mouth. It was like butter … happily settling onto my palate. Sadly I’m not a fan of horseradish so I had to forgo the green beans.

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As our bellies swell with pacified hunger, we are brought out two more gluttonous ways to finish out our experience:

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Chocolate Hazelnut Doughnut {vanilla bean mascarpone, chocolate fonduta}

Again I say that some things are worth trying (even if you’re allergic so long as the results won’t kill you). This was certainly one of those moments of assessed risk. This was pure magic. Seriously. Chocolate hazelnut doughnut. You really don’t even need to go on from there but I will. The filling of vanilla bean mascarpone was a pleasant and well-crafted gooey center and with the freshly drizzled chocolate fonduta? Allow me to say that you must abandon all calorie counting and dive into this with total abandon. And you won’t regret it.

 

Banana Budino {biscotti crumble, caramelized banana and whipped cream}

This was served as a pot de crème and had the subtleties of a warm pudding with hints of nutmeg and banana that certainly appeal to those looking for a more modest finale.

(I still say go for the doughnuts!)

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As our evening wound down and we were so full, a wheel barrel seemed apropos, LOCAL Kitchen & Wine Bar is well worth the trip. I would venture to say it’s one of my new favorite Santa Monica stops. The staff is nothing short of amazing, their devotion to creating cuisine that is not only locally sourced but abundant in character is refreshing, and while not every dish was a 10, there were some remarkable hits. Tonight the restaurant was packed with hungry diners and it’s no wonder why.

As an aside, I also have to impress upon readers that their selection of wines, craft beers and craft cocktails is impressive. They don’t waste your time with the same old things. In fact, their drink menu is one I encourage you to explore.

 

Local Kitchen & Wine Bar

1736 Ocean Park Blvd

Santa Monica, CA 90405

RESERVATIONS – (310) 396-9007

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Sunday 10 am-9 pm | Monday 11:30 am-9 pm

Tuesday -Thursday 11:30 am-10 pm

Friday 11:30 am-10:30 pm | Saturday 10am-10:30pm

 

Happy Hour Daily 3pm-6pm*

In the bar and communal tables.

FOOD PORN, Season 2 on FYI Network

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