Sometimes I am surprised at the hidden gems I find in and around Los Angeles. The Curious Palate is one of those, located in the busy Santa Monica Place mall. You’d think most people would have heard of it but two years into business at that location, they are still building their client base. While the regulars continue to stop by – they were busy at dinnertime earlier on in the week – it’s the new foot traffic that needs to head here.
I assumed anyone that heads to the movies (they are located right by the AMC) would possibly stop by here for a meal or at least to grab a drink and snack but that isn’t necessarily how it works. At the exclusive menu tasting, the co-owners Mark Cannon and Elliot Rubin shared their experience moving from their Venice location to this larger spot at the top floor in the famed mall.
The two, one an engineer and the other a producer, have been adventurous in their travels and the culinary treats they experienced as part of that journey. And they’ve collaborated on this venture bringing all their passions together. You can see it in their food and certainly in the way they talk to you about their offerings. They are excited for the new children’s museum opening across from them next month that should encourage traffic.
The Curious Palate takes pride in working with local artisan growers for the best natural and wholesome ingredients. Their community page on their website shares all the local organizations they partner with and support. They believe in celebrating life through the joys of good food, and bringing people closer together with each new edible delight. And delight you will – the menu does have something for everyone.
The location has a great open patio that would be perfect for summer parties. Their simple interiors offer a large airy space to enjoy a meal. Four legged furry friends are welcome. Local artwork for sale decorates their walls – unsure how often they change it up. Their bar is sort of the center of the restaurant and you will find yourself gravitating toward the sidewall of craft beers on tap, about 20 at this time.
Don’t feel pressured to try all the beer in one visit though – ask for tasters, find out more about each one from the owners and ask for similar suggestions if there’s one you like. The food, you will find, is a mix of a few different cuisines. They also have a kids menu so don’t let the bar fool you, this is a family friendly environment. Most ingredients are from the local farmers market or otherwise locally sourced.
Let’s talk about the food! Their sweet pea bisque and yellowtail ceviche were perfect starters for the meal on a cool California day (by which, if you are in Santa Monica, I mean windy and freezing cold!). The heat and warmth of the bisque with the freshness of the English peas was a welcome treat. The ceviche was equally flavorful with some avocado, mango and red chili to spice it up just right.
For a veggie appetizer, consider the roasted Brussels sprouts with golden beet puree, burrata and balsamic reduction. The combination was simply prepared and greatly balanced with the different textures complementing each other rather splendidly. The general consensus was the beet puree would have been consumed as a soup by itself if that’s all they served us. That’s how good that was.
For the entrée, the red seafood curry over noodles is a great option. Flat wide noodles interspersed with swordfish, salmon, shrimp and mussels in a mouthwatering coconut curry. I drank to the last drop. Another highlight was the harissa glazed hanger steak with curried cauliflower. A good portion of meat and veggies with each part holding its own but also aptly accompanying the other.
To round it all up, try the apple upside-down cake with persimmon ice cream. Firstly, the only upside down cake I ever had was pineapple so clearly I need to expand my repertoire on that category. Secondly, who makes persimmon ice cream?!! It was delicious and the hot/cold variation played really well. Not too rich or too sweet, I’d order this off their menu in a heartbeat.
Of course, there was plenty being imbibed as far as the craft beers go. Some of my top picks were – Guava Lava, Blood Orange White Ale, Coco Nutorious, Curieux, 24th Street and Berliner Weisse – barely a dent in their list but I will be back to try more. Overall a lovely casual dining experience and certainly a spot to keep in mind to meet with friends or maybe event host a networking evening given their gorgeous patio.
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