Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rustic Canyon *yawn*

It is generally not a good sign when I look over a menu and cannot find anything I really want to eat. Luckily, my party decided to share everything, so the decision was not entirely up to me. Rustic Canyon, the new Santa Monica "wine bar and seasonal kitchen," makes a noble effort to provide a comfortable, yet hip atmosphere, and fine food. The truth is, most everything we ate was perfectly good, just not very memorable (and it is not really a wine bar - there is a small bar and waiting area, but until this initial buzz wears off, do not expect to find a seat). Nothing on the menu sounded very original or interesting. Do we need another restaurant serving their version of The Office Burger? Their Rustic Canyon Burger comes with (what else?) Applewood smoked bacon, Point Reyes blue cheese, and wild greens, blah, blah, blah ($14). As an appetizer they serve Fra Mani Salumi (who doesn't these days?) with Humbolt Fog cheese. The mains complete the basic restaurant menu checklist; 1 vegetarian dish, a burger, a fish, lamb, steak and chicken.

After a nice plate of Spago-esque flatbread with tapenade and butter, we started off by sharing sauteed wild mushrooms over crispy polenta ($12). This was the highlight of the evening. The polenta was ground fine, formed into thin patties, pan fried to a crisp, topped with sauteed mushrooms, including chanterelles, and topped with a little spring of thyme, sticking out of the mushroom pile like a surrender flag. Great combo, nicely executed, just a little too small. Then we shared their wild salmon croquettes with spicy cress and saffron aioli ($12). These were not our favorite. Very fishy tasting, a little dry and too dense.

For the main, we shared pan roasted lamb chops with white beans, watercress and lamb jus ($30). The lamb was ordered med.-rare, and came out slightly underdone (luckily, that is ok with us), and undersalted. The beans had an lovely undertone of smokey pork, reminiscient of many a Lucques dish. The grilled NY steak with sauteed pea tendrills and hand cut (shoestring) fries was boring ($28). Too salty, and a little past med.-rare, and too lean and chewy. The fries were not as crisp as they should have been.

Three glasses of an Italian white wine at $11 each, and a bottle of Box Car Syrah for $40 (the wine list was varied and interesting), the total came to $176.45. For these prices one could dine at Joe's or Lucques and have a far more creative and superior meal. Don't get me wrong, the food was not bad, just underwhelming. And the space is very loud, but that never seems to keep anyone away.

Rustic Canyon
1119 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401


tony libido said...

my $.02 -- I preferred your old color palette, something about black and food not really going together

triplecreme said...

Thanks for the imput Brian. I thought the black backround was a little sharper looking - don't fret, I will change it up again soon enough.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the blog. i love your work. any vietnamese or chinese restaurant recommendations?

Anonymous said...

first of all i love your blog. you have been right on about all of the places i have been. the pictures are a great touch as well. against your better judgement my husband and i plus 2 other couples ventured out to rustic canyon last night. what a disappointment. i think it was the loudest restaurant i have ever been in and we are from new york. the service was awful and the food mediocre at best. the amazing thing is the place was packed. won't be going back there anytime soon. we also had yet another disappointing meal friday night at Hatfield's. what is all the hoopala about there. i can't even remember what i ate and the space outside is awful. we did dine at spago 2 weeks ago with friends from new york, and although the decor is very 80's the food and service was great. my husband and i shared the cote d' bouef for 2 and it was wonderful as were the desserts. old school for l.a. that is but a must for a special ocassion. keep writing i love reading your blog.

triplecreme said...

Thank you very much, Dana. Yeah, Rustic kinda sucks. I think the crowds are just everyone trying it out, who knows how many will really return. I am sorry to hear you did not like Harfield's. I agree, the space outside looked very ackward and uncomfortable. We sat inside, had great service, and I thought the food (we had the chef's tasting menu) was spectacular. I would suggest going back, get a table inside, and give it another try. Spago is on my list, I have only been there for lunch, and it was quite a scene. So Bevery Hills (but that is part of the fun too). May I also reccomend my all-time fav: Lucques.

Kyla said...

really? i hate to break the flow here but i really liked rustic canyon -- okay, it's not avant garde food, but my burger was pretty good, and my friend's steak was very good. finally the winter vegetable pot pie made my vegetarian husband very happy. we're going back tonight.

triplecreme said...

Dafina - Thanks for your comment, don't worry about breaking the flow, I love hearing what others think. I am glad you like Rustic Canyon. The food was fine, just uniteresting and uninspired, in my opinion. And not cheap either. I think I just felt my money would have been better spent at someplace like Lucques or Joe's.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I didn't read your review before I went. You're right -- the overpriced food varied from very good to forgettable, service was lousy and the noise level was off the charts. As a rule of thumb, I think that any restaurant that has a "no substitutions" policy is clearly not interested in customer satisfaction. A truly good chef wants to do his/her best to give the diner a satisfying meal. We did like the Fried Green Tomatoes, the tomato soup and the pizza -- all appetizers. Main courses were less good. Thanks for your blog!

Stickelback said...

Hey Bree! How've you been? Christina Perozzi is having a beer dinner here tomorrow night, and I was really debating whether I should go.

The menu looks incredible, but I also feel a bit meh about this restaurant and can't justify the price right now. But mmmm, oatmeal stout cake and porter ice cream.

Take care,