Michael’s Restaurant, A New Happy Party Six Nights a Week...

When I think of Michael’s Restaurant, that sleek, sexy establishment created  more than 20 years ago by that cute pioneer of California Cuisine, Michael McCarty, I immediately think of my romantic anniversary dinner with my husband, my former employer’s gourmet holiday dinner for a chosen few of us “high achievers,” and a best friend’s beautiful, elegant wedding in the secret garden.  I also think, CHA-CHING!  Michael’s is wonderful, but not cheap. So when I was invited to a Santa Monica Rotary cocktail happy hour at the place, I had to see what they had planned for the semi-budget-conscious, charity-minded business owner who loved to have a great time. When I walked in, I heard a solid roar of raucous voices coming from the front of the restaurant.  How fun!  Michael started a Happy Hour.  And it’s not just for an hour.  Turns out it’s runs from 5p to close, Monday through Friday, and 6p to close on Saturday!  Wow.  I walked into the room at about 6p, and my fellow Rotarians had a good start on me.  These party animals had the servers in marathon mode, whizzing back and forth with appetizers and libations. But these were not just your run of the mill happy hour meat ball or chicken wing.  It’s a sampling of Michael’s amazing cuisine.  For only $6.00 a piece, you can savor Truffle-Thyme Frites,  Roasted Chicken Pate with Grapes, Chervil and Brioche; Burrata on Crostini with Arugla, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Lemon Vinaigrette; Grilled  Shishito Peppers with Vadouvan Curry Aioli; Valdivia Farms Fava Beans and English Peas with Mancheco and Garlic;  Jidori Chicken and Waffle Wings with Bourbon-aged Maple Syrup and Chili Salt; House-made Andouille Sausage with beer-braised onions and whole grain mustard; and Duck Confit Rillettes  with blood orange vinaigrette and...

A Pearl of a Place

After moving back to Santa Monica this past year,  I am thrilled to see that Santa Monica Seafood, (a place I frequented for years when it was on Colorado Blvd.) has set up shop on Wilshire Blvd.   I walk into the light, airy, large market to find a fresh catch for lunch.  It feels a bit like an East Coast fish market but much grander. In front of me is a really large circular, enclosed glass case filled with a huge selection of seafood, including sea bass, salmon, trout, grouper, halibut, shrimp and many other species, as well as a large area filled with water to hold live Maine lobsters.   Obviously, this is the centerpiece of the place. To my left, there is an ample selection of wines, cheeses, breads, and gourmet foods that could be great company for my lunch selection.  To the right of the entrance, there’s an area with several small tables, nestled right next to the raw bar.  In back of the raw bar, there’s an area to order steamed clams, grilled fish, fish tacos and other seafood items that you can take back to your table and eat on premises.  There are also wines by the glass.  Great place for a bucket of steamed clams and a glass or two of wine on a Friday night! I come across a selection of oysters at the raw bar and make my lunch decision.   I’ve always loved the little guys and now I have the perfect opportunity to become a real aficionado with a fresh oyster tasting!   I take a seat at the bar to begin my adventure.  You can purchase one single oyster, a half dozen or a dozen.  I choose the half dozen to try all six they have...

The Glamour of The Georgian...

I love a place with an interesting history.   And, I love a good meal.  I put them together perfectly this past week, by lunching on the beautiful Veranda at the Georgian Hotel.   The well-preserved, Santa Monica Landmark  is nearly 80 years old, and as I walk in, I feel like I am on the set of a glamorous, romantic movie from right out of the 1930s. A golden, winding staircase ahead of me, a seaside Art Deco-style sitting area to my left, and an intimate dining area and bar to my right.  I feel as if I need to be wearing a soft, flowing light blue dress, with a stylish hat and gloves.   The Georgian whispers of a refined, classic icon, that I would have loved to be part of in its historic heyday.  “Can I help  you?” asks the hostess.  I wake from my daydream and am led to a charming table on the veranda for my lunch. The outside has as much character as the inside.  Overlooking the ocean just across Ocean Avenue, I smell the sea breezes and hear and watch the seagulls soaring above me. Why have I never been here before? The lunch menu is presented, and I am pleased.  Brie and Mango Quesadilla with pecans, served with guacamole and sour cream!  Yum.  The Ahi Tuna Tower with avocado, cucumber and celery looks good, and so does the Rosemary Ham Melt with brie and avocado.   Did I tell you I love brie and avocado?  Other appetizing selections on the menu include a Roasted Beet Salad with Boston lettuce, sauteed greens and homemade vinaigrette dressing,  and  a Filet of Salmon with a creamy cilantro lime sauce.   Also included are classic but delicious standards:  Shrimp Cocktail, Cobb Salad, to name a...

Real Good and Good For You...

A few weeks ago, I met with an interesting potential client — a chiropractor, healer and book author.  He also did not eat meat, and ate only raw and/or organic food.  I told him I would give him some free  PR counsel, if he would give me a lesson in getting to know and understand the benefits of his diet.  He told me not only would I lose weight, but he said that I would be more clear in my thinking. Thinner and smarter?  Ok, I’m willing to try this way of eating — at least once.  We walked from my office to a place that I have seen and heard of, but never had the chance to visit.  It’s called Real Food Daily, and it’s quite the institution for organic, meatless and raw foodies. I learned RFD’s food is balanced according to Eastern health philosophies and heart-healthy Western nutrition recommendations,  and is made from fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant proteins and high quality natural condiments. Real Food Daily serves a 100 percent plant-based menu – no meat, fish, fowl, dairy, eggs, butter, or saturated fats from animals or animal by-products.  Tough to swallow from this meat-and-potato girl from the mid-west!  But, I was still “game” for the culinary adventure. We were seated in an upstairs area, and a thin, pale waiter handed us menus.  (I thought to myself, if he ate meat, he’d have a rounder, healthier glow to him!)  But when I reviewed the menu, I was fascinated!  To start, I ordered the Not-Chos, with melted cashew cheese, black beans, Pico de Gallo, tofu sour cream and guacamole for $11.75.  It was so delicious!  It tasted just like the traditional version, but it was HEALTHY!  So exciting. My next course was...