In and around the 1400 block of Montana Avenue, there is to be found a collection of stores of a distinctly upscale nature, but displaying a village-style quality that is inviting rather than aloof, and casual rather than decorous. One peculiarity here, however, is the color, or to be precise, the word “blue.” Within earshot of a town crier proclaiming, “o yea, o yea,” there is a quartet of emporia, of various character, with the word “blue” alive in their signage.
There is The Blue House, The Bluest Jean Company, Planet Blue and a compact, chic and bustling café called Blue Plate.
I visited Blue Plate this past Saturday evening to sample the fare and feel the mood, and, although this eatery appeared fairly orthodox on first impression, there are some unique facets that distinguish the “flavor” of the experience from other establishments on the Westside.
Upon entry I witnessed an environment that was clean and functional, with a hint of sophistication, attracting a fair share of “industry types,” hipsters and beautiful people as well as locals needing a nosh. This café is bright, illuminated by swaths of natural sunset light, and, thankfully, well air-conditioned.
My table was comfortable, and although space was limited, I did not feel at all cramped; on the contrary, with the large glass doors wide open it actually created a very roomy impression.
The dinner options are displayed on prominent blackboards attached to the walls and change weekly, more or less. Beer and wine are also available at dinnertime. Blue Plate’s breakfast and lunch items are available for dinner too, and include a Homemade Chicken Burger served with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions with a choice of fries, salad or soup as a side ($11.95) and a novel Grilled Falafel Burger with lettuce, tomato, avocado, cucumber, sprouts and pesto, again with a choice of sides ($10.95).
I was immediately attracted to the Miso Glazed Salmon ($19) available with a choice of two sides, and opted for Parmesan Smashed Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Tomato. Due to my late arrival and the popularity of these dishes, my delightful server informed me that both of these were unavailable. Just for a moment I felt decidedly “blue” and heard the dulcet tones of a certain Mr. Jagger lamenting, “You can’t always get what you want…”
A quick re-think had me choosing the Grilled Asparagus and Mac & Cheese to escort my salmon. Slightly unorthodox, but as it turned out rather splendid.
The salmon was delightfully prepared, with the darkened evidence of the grill enticing me to further explore a moist and flavorful cut of salmon, the miso glaze acting as a thoughtful catalyst to the fish’s natural flavor.
The asparagus, lightly dressed with what I believed to be a light wasabe sauce, was not over-cooked and retained a robust quality that is so often lost in over-enthusiastic preparation.
The Mac & Cheese was a delight, with perfect shell pasta holding together a firm but mild cheese sauce that was nicely browned, and a surprisingly appropriate compliment to the salmon.
The overall presentation was attractive and neat.
I just had to sample one of the desserts from an attractive selection that was so deftly suggested to me by my server, and thus indulged in the Apple Pie a la mode ($6.50). Scrumptious chunks of delightful apple filling, the thinnest and most delicate crust ever with a healthy scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt rounded off a very pleasant meal.
As I sat savoring my sustenance, I gazed out of the window, past the light blue “A” grade sign issued by the Health Department, watched a blue and white Santa Monica Police vehicle cruise along Montana Avenue past some people disembarking from one of our Big Blue Buses and again heard the chanteur from the Rolling Stones exclaim, “But if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need…”
1415 Montana Ave.