Santa Monica Lookout Reviews
Taste Deals and Celebrity Sightings on dineLA Menu in Santa Monica
When one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.
By Zina Markevicius
July 21, 2014 -- Gently grilled calamari with a lemony vinaigrette over fresh arugula was the highlight of our dineLA lunch at One Pico in Santa Monica. But I must admit that the celebrity sightings were fun, too.
The beachside restaurant at the Shutters Hotel is one of 43 Santa Monica hotspots participating in the biannual event. Additional venues are spread across the Los Angeles area, from Calabasas to Arcadia to Long Beach.
Restaurants offer prix-fixe lunch menus for $15, $20, or $25 per person and dinner menus at $25, $35 or $45 per person. Through July 27, dineLA Restaurant Week offers a chance to try high-end locations at more affordable prices or to get more for the money at mid-range spots.
On a beautiful summer’s day, One Pico was an irresistible draw with its view of the beach and Santa Monica Pier. The ocean breeze blew in through open windows, and the high ceilings and muted blue, white, and grey color scheme set a relaxed but elegant tone.
In this perfect atmosphere for celebrities to blend with the rest of us, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her companion had a window seat when we arrived. Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined a gentleman for lunch soon after. Everyone was looking good.
A range of light, fresh fare is being offered with the dineLA menu. Diners may choose among five starters, and the seared calamari was the hands-down winner. The generous portion of soft calamari chunks and arugula was bright and well seasoned. Orange and red cherry tomatoes added the right bit of sweetness and reminded us that this is the time of year to grab them up at the farmers market. This dish would be reason enough to come back for lunch at Shutters.
Among the other first course options, the grilled yellow peaches with Fermin Serrano ham lacked the sweetness one would expect. The soft peaches did not quite gel with the more rigid slices of ham, though the peppery arugula helped balance the saltiness of the meat.
Further, the broccolini seemed more appropriate as a side dish than as an appetizer. The long thin stems were dotted with sliced red Fresno peppers and a tart dressing with preserved lemons. While tasty, it was a lot of broccolini to eat on its own. Tuscan kale, corn soup, market beans and heirloom tomatoes also featured on the menu.
Main course selections included in the $25 fare are Serrano ham bruschetta, the dry-aged burger, the turkey burger, spaghetti, grilled shrimp panzanella and Mary’s farm chicken breast. Grilled New York strip and pan-roasted wild salmon are available for an additional charge.
Our group was most impressed by the juicy chicken breast, which came with lightly charred little gem lettuce and a smoked tomato vinaigrette that set the dish apart. Mild dark olives were a subtle counterpoint to the smokiness.
The meat of the dry-aged burger was overwhelmed by the brioche bun, and the roasted tomatoes and truffle pecorino cheese did not distinguish themselves. The accompanying fries were crisp and fresh.
The shrimp panzanella featured nicely grilled shrimp with bright pesto, crisp cucumbers, flavorful tomatoes and torn chunks of olive oil croutons.
While not included with the dineLA menu, we could not resist trying some cocktails. The strawberry caipirinha best suited the location, as the strong fresh flavor of strawberry fit the summer sunshine.
The sailor’s punch delivered a classic rum punch with Sailor Jerry rum, pomegranate juice, and lemonade. While the starfish mojito pushed too far toward the pina colada with Malibu rum, mint, lemon, agave syrup, and shredded coconut. The drinks cost $14 each. They also offer a selection of pressed juices.
The service was friendly and professional but leisurely, as one hour passed and then another. Jamie Lee hit the road, but we stayed for dessert.
The espresso semifreddo was another highlight of the meal. Layers of crunchy and cool hazelnut meringue were balanced by a delicate mascarpone. Just like the best of them, the warm chocolate molten cake was rich and satisfying with an extra treat of pistachio streusel. The desserts were $10 each.
One Pico @ Shutters on the Beach had enticed us just as dineLA may have intended. Come for a quick, tasty lunch at a good price, and stay for a little more.
One Pico @ Shutters on the Beach, One Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405; (310) 587-1717; http://www.shuttersonthebeach.com/santa-monica-fine-dining
For a complete listing of restaurants participating in dineLA Restaurant Week, visit http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/dinela-los-angeles-restaurant-week.
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