La Grande Orange Santa Monica is the latest brainchild of Bob Lynn, in partnership with R.J. and Jerrod Melman (sons of well known restaurateur Rich Melman). Chef Lynn also created the original La Grande Orange grocery in Phoenix, as well as the hugely popular La Grande Orange in Pasadena. I visited La Grande Orange for dinner this past week, accompanied by Santa Monica Mirror Editor-at-Large, Bev Cohn, and we experienced a surprise of the most pleasant variety indeed!
La Grande Orange Santa Monica is situated on Main Street at the corner of Bicknell Avenue, and the building is new, sparkling and pristine. The décor is disarming sophistication. Bold art, fused with the tidy sheen of modish furniture, all set under gloriously tall ceilings, create an uncluttered and spacious environment in which to enjoy the culinary creations of head chef and gastronomic artisan, Bob Lynn. And creative this man is, with a particular interest in unorthodox salads amongst a menu that is Californian fusion (Chef Lynn likes to call his dishes “California Picnic Food”) at its most enticing.
The service is energetic and efficient, with our server, Shea, displaying an enthusiastic knowledge of all of the dishes that we enquired about. One of the most unique salads imaginable was the Brussels Sprout Salad, with manchego cheese, roasted almonds, dried cranberries, and a honey-mustard vinaigrette ($13.95). We simply had to try it! The robust leaves of Brussels Sprouts were crunchy and fresh (fresh being the theme here), and the manchego cheese and light honey-mustard vinaigrette made for a perfect palate teaser for the ensuing delights.
For the main dishes, and after perusing the well-balanced and intriguing menu (from sushi to soft taco platters and burgers!), I chose the Charred Black Cod (served in a kaffir lime broth, $18.95) whilst Bev opted for the Rib Eye Steak Tacos (certified angus beef grilled medium rare, $18.95).
The Charred Black Cod was quite simply top of the class. A most delicious, most flaky, and obviously most fresh piece of cod, skillfully prepared, and served with the delightful broth and bok choy, it literally melted in my mouth. I tasted Bev’s Rib Eye Steak Tacos (served with white rice, black beans, sour cream, Pico de Gallo, guacamole, charred salsa, and homemade corn tortillas) and experienced tender meat, with the suggestion of a soy, ginger, and pineapple marinade that proved to be a tongue tantalizing tasty treat indeed!
We concluded our evening with a couple of desserts, recommended by Shea incidentally. Bev had the Banana Pudding Pie, whilst I was graced with an absolutely stunning Red Velvet Cake. Light, and dancing with taste, I would have no hesitation in recommending this as the perfect conclusion to an evening at La Grande Orange. The Banana Pudding Pie was also a hit, and yes, a little opulence never hurt, most especially when it’s as gratifying as this.
To conclude, La Grande Orange is a welcome addition to Santa Monica’s rich and varied selection of quality restaurants, and with its delightful décor, superb location, and focused ethos (that includes an axiom of always using super-fresh farmer’s market produce; they don’t even own a freezer for food!), will soon become a regular stop for Westside diners, and visitors alike, no doubt about that at all.
2000 Main Street