Santa Monica's Ocean & Vine dives into mouth-watering flavors with their "farm-to-table" approach to California cuisine. This ocean-front restaurant located at the luxurious Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel not only pairs locally-grown ingredients, but also home-grown I found out, with signature savory cocktails and carefully chosen wines that enhance every dish.
And with Executive Chef Keith Roberts back in the kitchen for nearly a year, the restaurant has elevated to not only looking good, but also tasting good with dishes that are now well above par in flavor. Roberts has over 30 years experience and chooses a "understated, yet imaginative" menu to showcase California farmers, fisherman and artisans. The menu consists of locally-caught seafood, certified-Angus beef and fresh produce and ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. And what Roberts doesn't get, he is going to grow himself. Assistant Manager, Rovena Gaut, mentioned Roberts is in the process of developing an on-site garden that will house herbs and fruits that will be featured in menu dishes and cocktails.
With a new chef, menu and look, I decided to check out Ocean & Vine for myself. Since it has been surprisingly warm in Santa Monica, I decided to take my dinner to the outdoor patio Ocean & Vine offers, which has six fireplace-seating areas and an amazing view of the Santa Monica Pier. My husband and I treated ourselves to both dishes from the ocean and the garden. I started with the Carlsbad Agua Hedionda Lagoon Oysters, which came with chipotle cocktail, horseradish and cilantro pesto sauces. The oysters were fresh and tasty, and also scored in presentation as mist rose up from the oysters as they sat before me. My husband, who is a lifetime vegetarian, chose sushi to start from the "Sushi at Sunset" sushi bar that opened last fall as part of the restaurant. He got a tasty Farmers' Market roll that was wrapped in cucumber and had carrot-infused rice, avocado, asparagus, and roasted peppers inside. Gaut also mentioned to us not to miss out on the "6 at the Beach" happy hour where you can try out certain sushi rolls, wines, cocktails and sake for $6 each from 5 to 8pm every day.
Next, we indulged on our main courses. I went with my ocean theme of Caramelized Mano de Leon Sea Scallops with Yukon gold whipped potatoes, poached asparagus and browned-butter caper sauce. The scallops were cooked perfectly with a quick sear on top, so that the outside had a crisp, golden brown crust and the inside was succulent and tender. My husband got a vegetarian option of Gold Coast Portobello and Ravioli, which had grilled-garlic and rosemary-marinated mushrooms on top of broccolini goat cheese raviolis. He made a lot of "Mmm" noises, so I'm assuming he liked them. We were also pleasantly surprised to see a vegan dish on the menu - Vegan Tomato Fettuccini in a parsnip roast garlic sauce. My husband is already planning a next time since he found out they also serve lunch and breakfast too. We glanced at the breakfast menu, which had favorites like omelettes, buttermilk and blueberry pancakes, French toast and waffles. But, they also showcase a unique twist on breakfast with items like the breakfast pannini, Farmers' Market quiche, huevos rancheros and machaca, which is shredded beef, scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, breakfast potatoes and warm flour tortillas.
As our forks hit the plates, one of us decided we weren't yet full enough and decided I wanted to try the Makin’ Whoopie dessert. Some might know it as a moon pie or a whoopie pie, but I now know it as "yummy chocolate goodness." They bring out three red velvet cakes for you to dress up with marshmallow, chocolate mousse or Dulce de Leche - or you can spread on all three at once as I did. It was a great way to end a great meal. Both my husband and I enjoyed not only the food, but also the service and atmosphere. Ocean & Vine isn't just for the weary travelers who need a place to eat, but instead a great local spot to unwind and have some amazing food. My husband and I will definitely be back for brunch, dinner, happy hour, or even just a glass of wine as we sit by the fire on those comfy couches while we look out at the sunset.
Ocean & Vine
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
1700 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401-3233
Phone: (310) 576-3180
Hours: Mon to Fri: 6:30AM - 10:00PM
Sat and Sun: 6:30AM - 10:00PM