Inside the Art Institute of California – Los Angeles in Santa Monica is a hidden gem of a restaurant: Bistro 31.
This student-run establishment of The International Culinary School is open to the public three days a week when the school is in session.
It’s a win-win situation where students are mastering their art under the guidance of esteemed chefs while the public can enjoy the high-quality dishes that use the finest ingredients at a fraction of the cost of many high-end Santa Monica restaurants.
Bistro 31 is operated by final-quarter students taking the “a la carte” class.
The restaurant provides an opportunity for them to practice the theory and culinary artistry that they have learned and honed over the years in the culinary program.
It also gives them hands-on experience with menu creation, food preparation, management, money handling, and customer service.
Student Courtney Taira recent completed a two-month stint at Bistro 31.
“Chef Christophe Bernard was probably was one of the best chefs I’ve had at the school,” Taira said. “He really took the time to teach us and helped correct us if we weren’t doing something right and he really gave us a good base of knowledge.”
Taira said one of her favorite dishes that she cooked included duck confit with a celery root puree.
She said other dishes included salmon, beef tenderloin, and scallops on the constantly evolving menu.
“We made our own pasta with a spicy tomato sauce served with clams, mussels, and shrimp that was really fantastic,” she said. “One day we had chicken mousse while another day we did a scallop dish with Soba noodles that had a Japanese influence.”
Taira said her class of 16 continually rotated positions in the Bistro.
“There was always eight in front and eight in back,” she said. “In the kitchen you could be doing the grill, the sauté station, or you could be doing desserts. At the front of house you could be the manager, the bartender, the server, or the runner. We really got good exposure to all the different positions in the restaurant.”
The hours of Bistro 31 are Tuesday through Thursday for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., excluding campus holidays. Hours of operation may vary by quarter.
Bistro guests are encouraged to call to verify hours and for reservations. Parking validations is available.
The International Culinary School
2900 31st Street, Santa Monica