Location: 507 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (424) 268-4433
Date: July 3, 2015
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Good Kitchen
Finally, after a long dry spell, Santa Monica is getting some new restaurants.
Aestus is a new modern American helmed by Kevin O’Connor and Alexandre Ageneau from Spago and the Royce respectively.
Interesting smart casual interior.
The current menu, which looks like it changes often enough.
Unusually, I went for a cocktail, in this case a Mezcal based lemony drink. I’m not sure the Mezcal blended perfectly with the rest — but it was strong.
Golden quinoa bowl. beets, persimmons, almonds. The “healthy dish.”
Stracciatella di burrata. shishito, thyme. No, this isn’t Burrata and chocolate strips. Evidently its the inside of the burrata, here served with toast and shishitos. Pleasant enough.
Beef tartare. smoked beets, horseradish. I love beef tartare and usually try to have it.
This was a good one, particularly with the gooey egg and the bit of kick from the horseradish (standing in for black pepper).
Ricotta agnolotti. peas, chanterelles, parmesan. This example is sans mushrooms. Pleasant and buttery. The peas had a nice crunch to them.
Red king salmon. tomatoes, fennel, basil.
Grilled lamb chops. Carrots, apricots, goat cheese. This tasted like a deconstructed Morracan lamb tangine. The lamb itself had a lot of flavor and wasn’t too fatty. The “cheese” had the texture of spray can whipped cream. Odd, but it tasted good. The vegetables had a mixed veggie/sweetness too them and Moroccan spices.
Fried fingerling potatoes. Yogurt sauce. Lots of salt. These came out about the temperature of Satan’s armpits, but they proved to be very tasty potatoes indeed, in no small part due to the salt.
Overall, while I didn’t get to try too many dishes (by my standards), what I did try was very on point. I think this is a sharp kitchen. There is a certain lightness and flavor forward manner that I really liked. It has all the hallmarks of a modern LA restaurant: the wood tables, paper menus, bar, loud surfaces, sharing friendly, and modern plating. The up to date use of textures (moused, crunchy, etc) and the artful plating is very contemporary.
I do have to say the menu isn’t too kid friendly. Our six year old had a few bites of the agnolotti, complained that he doesn’t like cheese INSIDE his pasta (only on). Then ate a lot of potatoes. There was no ketchup 🙂