With winter fast approaching, Ocean & Vine Executive Chef Keith Roberts selects only the freshest produce from the Santa Monica Farmers Markets that’s in season and full of flavor.
When it’s cold outside, Roberts knows his guests eat different, so he has created many dishes that are fun, seasonal, and provide plenty of comfort to warm guests from the inside.
This means there are wild mushrooms, root vegetables such as yams, and winter squash.
Located within Loews Santa Monica Hotel, the restaurant serves a lot of travelers, who Roberts says don’t always want to be too adventurous in their dining options, and that’s why he developed a comfort food menu, with a few twists.
“Since we are right on the beach, and we have this great view, seafood is a great theme for us,” Roberts said.
“You need to have things that are fun, but not so exotic that people are afraid to try them. I try to gear the menu to dishes that are familiar, at least in print, but the excitement comes when it ends up in the front of the guest on a plate.”
A perfect example is the Lobster Lasagna.
The lobster is sautéed in a rich mushroom sauce and the pasta sheets are layered on the plate elegantly.
It’s in no way a cheesy, gooey baked lasagna, but rather a delicate and rich lasagna with tender homemade pasta sheets served with a thin-sliced asparagus slaw on top.
Roberts said this dish is something new and exciting, but not too exotic and wild.
“Guests aren’t afraid to try it, but it’s like, “wow it’s different,” but I don’t need to drag them kicking and screaming into something they weren’t expecting,” he said.
Another example is the tiger shrimp and lobster risotto.
While the dish is common at restaurants all around the world, what makes this version so unique is the fennel pollen that has a strong aroma that makes the shrimp dance on top of this risotto.
The seafood influence continues on the Simply Grilled section of the menu. When it comes to fish, Roberts offers Local Halibut, Pacific Salmon, and a California Local Sea Bass. A 14- ounce Prime New York Steak and Surfer’s BBQ Medley are also available on the grill menu.
All are simply prepared with seasoning and then grilled to keep the clean fresh flavors.
The local sea bass is rich, moist, and has a heavier oil content. The meat of this fish has fine flakes.
There are eight sauces that servers are happy to recommend depending on what dish you order: Chardonnay Yuzu Butter, Persimmon Ginger Nage, Cashew Garlic Scallion, Tahini Watermelon, Young Coconut Sambal, Carpenteria Yellow Tomato, Wasabi BBQ Artichoke, Roasted Pepper Ragout, Pomegranate Port Reduction, and Green Peppercorn Cognac.
There is also a 12-ounce prime pork chop on offer that’s prepared in a brine of maple and soy, which, if you’re in the mood for pork, will surprise you. It comes out moist with a little bit of sweetness left over from the maple brine, but it’s not too sugary.
Ocean & Vine also presents its new oceanfront sushi bar, Sushi at Sunset, which opens one hour earlier than the restaurant at 5 p.m.
The hotel’s sushi chefs prepare a variety of inventive rolls, such as Santa Monica Fog, Blue Streak Coaster, and Muscle Beach, offered in addition to sushi, nigiri, and sake.
To finish your dining experience, all of the restaurant’s desserts are made in-house.
Try the warm sweet potato lasagna for something different, which last winter, was the hands down favorite among diners.
Ocean & Vine
1700 Ocean Avenue
Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
Dinner: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday