Beach level dining at Coast Beach Cafe and Bar

The casual restaurant Coast Beach Café at Shutters on the Beach offers an all-day menu of California favorites, a lovely brunch and themed dinner nights. Overlooking Santa Monica beach, hotel guests and locals can walk down a flight of stairs or take the elevator to sit outside on the sunken patio, or indoors near the lively bar. The ground level location is prime territory for watching beach-goers stroll by the craftsman-style restaurant.

When Shutters on the Beach opened in 1993, it was the only Santa Monica hotel with direct beach access. Coast Beach Cafe and Bar opened in 2007 offering grilled seafood, salads, sandwiches and burgers.

Since the weather is warming up, its an ideal Sunday Brunch destination.Sitting on the shaded patio, my family and I started with a variety of fresh juice from the juice bar. Blends include a sweet pineapple, apple, lemon and mint, and an earthy kale, celery, cucumber, lemon, parsley, romaine and spinach juice. 

The menu offers a variety of breads including a freshly baked blueberry, raisin bran, carrot or chocolate muffin and butter, almond or chocolate croissants. We ordered an almond croissant to enjoy while looking over the menu.

Selecting the avocado toast, it arrived on pieces of thick grilled country bread. Guests can add shrimp on top for protein. I chose a grilled Waygu burger that arrived with melted cheddar cheese on a soft brioche bun. This burger is a meal in itself, loaded with crisp lettuce, purple and red heirloom tomato slices and grilled red onions. It’s served with either a side salad or crispy French fries.

My husband ordered the lobster roll filled with generous pieces of lobster meat that were enhanced with a lemony aioli inside a buttery brioche bun. Be sure to try the fries, because they are better than most. These still have their skin, are crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. They are served in a little silver fryer container with a ramekin of ketchup. 

Hearty brunch fare includes the classic Eggs Benedict served with home style potatoes. Sauteed spinach or smoked salmon can be added to this breakfast favorite. The chefs also make a “Bulls-Eye” breakfast skillet layered with roasted eggplant, spicy tomato, and eggs. 

Healthy salads include a grilled salmon salad topped with sliced avocado, asparagus, cucumber and radish. It’s dressed with a light lemon citronette.

For sweeter fare, the signature lemon ricotta pancakes with mixed berries on top are a local favorite. They aren’t too lemony and they aren’t too dense. They arrive stacked with powdered sugar sprinkled on top, and a carafe of maple syrup.


Our server informed us about the daily theme dinners during the week. On Monday the chefs offer a Burgers & Beers night. My wagyu enhanced burger is one of the burgers served with a craft beer for $30. The chefs also make a turkey burger topped with Portobello mushrooms, Pecorino and Romano cheese. For fish lovers they also make a salmon burger topped with capers, housemade cole slaw, and horseradish cream on a knot bun. Vegetarians can enjoy a burger made with brown rice, cannellini beans, spinach, Burrata cheese, lettuce, basil aioli, and vine ripped heirloom tomato slices on a soft vegan bun.


All these burgers are paired with a California craft beer. Some of my favorites on the menu include Santa Monica Brew Works, 310 Blonde ABV Knee Deep extra pale ale, ABV Angel City Pilsner, and ABV White Rascal Belgian style White Ale. 

On Tuesday’s the theme dinner is Pasta on the Patio. Wednesday is raw seafood bar night, and tacos on Thursday. All of these theme dinners start at 5 p.m. Happy Hour is every Sunday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., and brunch is Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Since we were going to walk along the beach and out to the end of the pier after brunch, we splurged and ordered a slice of coconut cake. A variety of cakes are on display near the entrance including Southern red velvet cake, a chocolate cake, and carrot cake. 

$$ 1 Pico Blvd. (310)587-1707.

This review was featured on May 16, 2019 in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News

A hidden gem at Cliff’s Edge

At Cliff’s Edge, located in Sunset Junction in Silver Lake, new chef Will Kelly has crafted a soulful menu for diners to enjoy, whether they sit inside at the bar and lounge or outdoors on the enchanting patio. A multi-level utopian dining area is filled with brightly colored floral accent pillows and lush greenery, and the patio is bordered with a forest of thick bamboo stalks and lush flowering fauna to provide privacy from nearby Sunset Boulevard. Twinkle lights hang around a towering ancient tree, offering a romantic ambiance for those sitting under its large spreading branches.

There is something for everyone on this Californian menu, including those with dietary restrictions.


Our group started with fresh briny oysters served with a red wine mignonette, cocktail sauce and squeeze of lemon. Since almost every table had a pan of fresh out-of-the-oven Parker House rolls, we ordered them too. They arrived glazed with a semi-salted Beurre Bordier butter and dusting of parmesan.

We enjoyed the rolls with a variety of warm olives that included Spanish Cornicabra and meaty Gordal olives, the “queen of olives,” a few French Picholine cocktail olives and green, crisp Castelvetrano olives. My favorites were the distinctly deep red Italian Taggiasche, which offer a sweet and fruity essence with hints of nutty almond.

Since two of our friends are vegetarians, they ordered the harissa carrots, which were sweetened with a little honey and dollop of creamy lebni yogurt. They also ordered the sprouting multicolored cauliflower, which was dazzled with bagna cauda – a “hot bath” mixture of garlic and anchovies – and fennel, mint and a little bit of Calabrian chili. The Brussels sprouts come with chopped Marcona almonds, lemon and a balsamic drizzle.

At Cliff’s Edge, the chef makes handmade pasta daily, so we ordered two different types: the wild mushroom pappardelle, which included bits of charred kale, parmesan and crème fraiche, and the black squid ink seafood fettuccine. The squid ink pasta comes with clams and mussels, as well as a kick of heat from the small Calabrian chili that is spicy, smoky and even has a fruity taste. This pasta dish is finished with a squeeze of lemon for acid and fennel pollen dusting.

Cliff’s Edge offers a variety of meat options as well. My husband ordered the duck breast, which was served with smoked currants, braised endive, Brussels sprouts and a sweet potato base. Braised spigarello, a cousin to broccoli that features long stems and curled green leaves, accompanied the duck.

Other proteins include bone-in New York strip, the adobo-rubbed half chicken, and short rib served with celery root, chanterelles, sprouted cauliflower and a lovely jus.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, we splurged and ordered a luscious chocolate pot de creme topped with cardamom whipped cream, tiny cocoa nibs and chopped candied orange.

The restaurant offers more than just dinner. During the weekend, Cliff’s Edge serves a variety of enticing brunch fare, including lemon and ricotta pancakes, eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, and apple cinnamon French toast.  Brunch drinks include kimchi bloody marys, white wine sangria, Micheladas, and orange, grapefruit or passion fruit mimosas. Make a reservation for Mother’s Day to treat that special woman in your life.

Dinner hours are 6 to 10:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant stays open until 11 p.m. Bar hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, but on Fridays and Saturdays, the bar stays open until 2 a.m. Weekend brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $$ 3626 W. Sunset Blvd., (323)666-6116.

This was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on April 25, 2019.

Christmas Dining & Delights in Los Angeles

Enjoy a festive and hassle-free Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day meal prepared by talented chefs throughout Los Angeles. Instead of spending the holidays shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning – dine with friends and loved ones at the following Los Angeles culinary destinations: Learn more by clicking here



Mr. C Beverly Hills Christmas Eve special dinner

Celebrate the night before Christmas with a decadent Italian four-course dinner starting at 6 p.m. Executive chef Giuseppe Manco will prepare an array of dishes including a trio of marinated Norwegian smoked salmon, shrimp and tuna tartare, and beef tenderloin with porcini sauce. This festive four-courses dinner offers wine pairings. 1224 Beverwil Drive, Los Angeles, (310)277-2800.


Christmas Day brunch and dinner

Circa 55 offers a Beverly Hills-style Christmas brunch buffet with an omelet station, assorted breakfast pastries, prime rib, roasted turkey and roasted kabocha salad. Chef Thomas Henzi’s special holiday meal includes bottomless mimosas for adults. The Christmas dinner includes wild-caught salmon, fresh oysters, prime rib and hand-crafted Christmas pies. Brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner is from 5 to 10 p.m. 9876 Wilshire Blvd. (310)274-7777.

The Peninsula Beverly Hills’ holiday dinner

Enjoy the magic of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at The Belvedere with a three-course meal served family-style. During Christmas Eve, the menu includes lobster bisque, seared scallops, 28-day dry-aged prime rib and a yule log. This menu is vailable from 5 to 10:30 p.m. On Christmas Day, enjoy free-flowing Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne with parsnip and pear soup, beet carpaccio, turkey with sage stuffing, and a selection of contemporary and classic desserts from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., (310)551-2888.



Christmas Eve at Toscana

Chef Hugo Vasquez prepares elegant Italian holiday dishes for Christmas Eve including white truffle risotto and asparagus. Other delectables include a braised duck leg, turbot puttanesca al cartoccio, Diver scallops, and fresh ricotta ravioli with tomato concassé and brown butter. Wine director Roberto Facciolla pairs each dish with a choice of premium wines. Next door, Bar Toscana celebrates the holidays with a more casual dinner featuring Kumomoto oysters, poached lobster Catalana with sweet onion mousse and an Italian cheese platter. 11633 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)820-2448 and (310)826-0028.

Coral Tree Café Christmas

Throughout December, guests dining at the Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Encino Coral Tree Café will enjoy a festive menu. 11645 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)979-8733. 225 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (310)553-8733. 17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818)789-8733.



Enjoy a Tiki-style Christmas Eve

Stop by plant-based Beelman’s for a Tiki Christmas celebration with Tiki drinks. Beelman’s will be closed on Christmas Day. 600 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213)622-1022.


Holiday vegan doughnuts

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken makes vegan doughnuts in three festive flavors that include vanilla, Nutella, and cinnamon sugar and gingerbread for the holidays. The vanilla is topped with a hot Madagascar vanilla glaze. The gingerbread doughnut is available only in December. A second Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken will be opening in Santa Monica in early 2019. 516 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles, (213)622-7876.

Patina’s Christmas Eve dinner

Toast while enjoying a four or six course dinner. Start off with either the wild Japanese Madai fish or chestnut cavatelli or black truffle acquerello risotto. The second course includes foie gras or Dover sole with fennel, grapes and Brussels sprouts. Main course entrées include Mary’s duck with braised red cabbage, Millbrook Farms venison with root vegetables and binchotan-grilled American wagyu beef. Finish with a choice of three bûche de Noël. The options include chicory, Black Forest and passion fruit white chocolate. 141 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213)972-3331.

Hot dog! Spring St. Bar’s Christmas

Step into the downtown Los Angeles’ friendly neighborhood bar and sandwich shop for a whimsical Christmas hot dog bar. Enjoy a hot dog with one of the 26 constantly rotating taps of craft beer and refreshing classic cocktails. The bar is open on Christmas Day from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. 626 S. Spring St., (213)622-5859.

Hotel Figueroa’s Christmas feast

Head to Veranda on Christmas Day and indulge in roast beef, whole roasted duck, roasted root vegetables with caramelized onions, whole roasted red snapper, bluenose bass with red and green mojos, chicories, potato purée and a special Christmas pie. This special menu is $55 per person and reservations are from 3 to 8 p.m. 939 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (866)734-6018.

NoMad Holiday Spectacular

Now through the end of December, NoMad Hotels hosts a cocktail pop-up with guest bartender Julian Cox every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. Sip on custom cocktails from bar director Leo Robitschek and guest bartenders. The whimsical menu of festive drinks can be found at the hotel’s Coffee Bar at the corner of Seventh and Olive. 649 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, (213)358-0000.


Christmas Eve at Nick + Stef’s

Celebrate Christmas Eve with a luxurious steakhouse meal. Executive chef Megan Logan will prepare a celebratory holiday menu featuring an interactive tableside Caesar salad, dry-aged steaks, fresh seafood, Snake River Farms wagyu rib-eye, grass-fed filet mignon, jumbo Maryland lump crab cakes and signature sides. Start with a festive drink and end with one of the beautifully presented desserts. 330 S. Hope St., Los Angeles, (213)680-0330.


The Hollywood Roosevelt

Step inside The Hollywood Roosevelt for an eclectic yet relaxed dining experience. The American brasserie Public Kitchen & Bar dinner. Start with savory squash soup or seared Diver scallops. The second course includes roasted moulard duck breast with Japanese sweet potato or einkorn tagliatelle with chanterelle mushrooms and leeks. For a sweet finish, try the deconstructed pumpkin pie or heirloom apple cranberry tart tatin. Children have their own special menu that includes chicken noodle soup, honey-glazed ham, macaroni and cheese, and crunchy praline mousse. 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323)769-8888.

Wood & Vine

Wood & Vine offers festive pre and post-theatre meals all year round. Located across from The Pantages Theatre, be sure to enjoy Chef Rick’s hearty pork shank, shrimp and grits, or lighter winter plates that include IMPOSSIBLE meatballs with plant based spaghetti and vegan cheese. Be sure to finish with a slice of Grandma Helen’s chocolate pie. 6280 Hollywood Blvd. (323)334-3360.


Holiday drinks at Rise-N-Grind Coffee & Juice Bar

Hollywood’s Rise-N-Grind gets into the holiday spirit with festive beverages such as a classic hot chocolate made with dark chocolate syrup, a toasted marshmallow latte with a double shot of espresso, a gingerbread latte topped with whipped cream and a gingerbread cookie, and a peppermint double shot latte with peppermint syrup and choice of milk. 6501 Hollywood Blvd. (323)553-8901.



Posada at Antonio’s

Antonio’s Restaurant on Melrose celebrates posada, the biblical story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, with a special menu. Try the chicken sweet tamales, pozole featuring pork borth and hominy, or the crunchy cinnamon buñuelos. 7470 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323)658-9060.



Hotel Casa del Mar

Dine near the sand at Hotel Casa del Mar that includes a starter of Iberian ham and manchego cheese foam with crusted tomato and warm bread. Entrées include roasted duck with blueberry sauce and passion fruit glaze, or wagyu beef filet mignon with shaved black truffle. Finish with a warm apple tart and bambucha éclair with hazelnut ice cream. 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, (310)581-7714.


Holiday Sunday Brunch at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck 

For the first time ever WP24 by Wolfgang Puck at The Ritz-Carlton, in Los Angeles at L.A. Live opens its doors to guests and the public for an interactive Sunday brunch. Start with a complimentary lychee mimosa and an array of lovely baked items before you are escorted to your view table.


Guests are invited into Chef de Cuisine John Lechleidner’s kitchen to watch chef demonstrations and discuss technique with his team at individual Asian stations. “During the holidays, I want guests to visit our home in WP24,” said Chef John.



Discover the proper way to roll sushi, stir-fry hand-torn noodles and discover how they make Chinese donuts for dessert.


The Wolfgang Puck’s Peking Duck station allows diners to make their own duck bao bun. There is also an area to prepare congee with scallion, poached shrimp, pork floss, bamboo shoots, chili oils, 10-minute eggs and pickled mustard greens. Another stations offers fresh fruit and salads.


The smoky Bloody Mary cocktail demo comes with a crystal decanter to refill at your table. Add slices of lemon, lime, olives and celery stalk.


The special coffee bar offers candy canes, marshmallows, chocolate drops and cinnamon. The triple layer latte is a warm treat.


On Sunday, December 23 there will be a special visit from Santa in addition to cookie decorating and hot cocoa for kids. Brunch is available for two consecutive seatings each Sunday starting at 11:00 a.m. and the second at 1:00 p.m. It’s priced at $75 per person; $25 for children 12 years and under. The price includes unlimited access to culinary stations, coffee, tea and orange juice. Cocktails are an additional charge. Call (213)743-8800 or go to WP24

Sweet Sunday Brunch at Herringbone

With whimsical marine décor and artwork displayed among the interior’s cool blue and green hues, Herringbone allows beachgoers to revel in the seaside without the crowds of the Santa Monica Pier just a few blocks away.

On a beautiful day, the best way to experience this California coastal restaurant is with brunch on the al fresco patio.


Walking inside Herringbone’s Thomas Shoos-designed space, diners immediately notice the striking entrance offering taller than normal beautiful carved wood doors, and leafless life-size trees in large planter boxes. Hanging from the bare branches are an assortment of long spike puffer fish. This California coastal restaurant is just a couple blocks from the Santa Monica pier and beach, inspiring the interior’s whimsical marine decor and artwork displayed among pleasing blue and green hues.


The colorful mosaic tiled raw bar is a piece of art made with an array of broken and cut Mediterranean tiles. This is where the oysters are shucked and served on ice with classic mignonette and samba cocktail sauce. Behind this bar, chefs assemble seafood platters filled with oysters, Alaskan king crab, Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp. During dinner and brunch hours, diners can splurge and share an order of a dozen oysters and a bottle of wine with a loved one for $55.


Nautical rope and glass lights hang above marble top tables and metal chairs resting on wood flooring. Throughout the dining rooms are shallow fishing boat hung upside down with dropped ropes and Edison lights as functional art, similar to a sculpture one would admire in a Museum of Modern Art.

Beautiful light blue water glasses add a touch of color on the top of the white marble tables.

One wall is textured with brick and decorated with painted wooden fish hung to appear as if they are swimming in a school. It’s near the cocktail bar with an impressive skeleton of a large marine mammal suspended above.


On a beautiful day, the best way to start off brunch at Herringbone is out front on the al fresco patio. Brunch goers can get into the seaside spirit sipping rose’ wine all day while enjoying lobster rolls filled with Maine Lobster and a squeeze of lemon. 

Seeking something sweet, we started with chef Ashley’s oversized cinnamon bun. It’s large and sticky from the caramelized cinnamon and sugar swirl, and mountain swirl of cream cheese frosting on top. Another sweet starter we enjoyed was the moist banana bread topped with hazelnut streusel crumble. It arrived on a plate with three slices surrounded with a handful of bright red and purple berries and dollop of cream cheese frosting.


The General Manager Ricky Ortega visited guests around the room to make sure everyone is pleased with the service and food. He introduced himself and encouraged us to order some of the savory dishes including chilaquiles smothered in a ranchero sauce. If you like spicy, this dish will please your senses, however I found it offered too much heat for my liking. The “Smoked Salmon Benny” is a twist on a traditional Eggs Benedict. Presented on a regular English muffin, it’s topped with ribbons of thinly sliced salmon, and a watercress, chimichurri and hollandaise sauce. The sauce was a tad too salty on the day we dined.


Brunch toast includes stone crab and avocado decorated with watermelon radish, a fried egg, arugula leaves and sprinkle of Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I enjoyed the fresh red tuna poke topped with chopped macadamia nuts, sliced red onions, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a handful of arugula leaves. It’s served with crunchy black and white nori chips for scooping. 

Feeling fortified we finished brunch and hopped on two electric scooters parked out front of Herringbone to explore neighborhoods near the beach in Santa Monica. 

Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner begins daily at 5 p.m. 1755 Ocean Ave. (310)971-4460.

This review was featured in the Nov. 8, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press.

Best Brunch at Baltaire in Brentwood

Last Sunday I saw Executive Chef Travis Strickland from Baltaire at the Taste of the Nation festival in Culver City. He prepared delicious Nueske cherrywood BLT lettuce cups topped with strawberry sambal and pretty flowering cilantro sprigs. It was a hit at the fundraiser benefiting No Kid Hungry. 


Chef Travis is a chef with a big heart. As an avid runner and cyclist, he co-founded a 5K “Run for Their Knives” event, benefiting a memorial scholarship fund that promotes health and well-being in the culinary community.

I’ve been a fan of this chef ever since I had my first lunch at Baltaire years ago. He revived the restaurant’s tableside service, with servers sautéing Dover Sole in a French copper pan, before filleting and deboning it in front of guests. 

Recently, I enjoyed Sunday brunch at Baltaire while sitting out on the light and airy outdoor terrace with a retractable roof. As I was admiring the serene green and grey hues offering a classy California vibe, my party and I received an amuse bouche of bright blue colored spiraling yogurt with fresh fruit compote, pecan granola, and a sliced strawberry on top.


While sipping Contratto Metodo Classico Millesimato Pas Dose 2012, I learned it’s the oldest sparkling wine house in Italy. The bubbles were nice to pair with Chef Travis special cinnamon monkey bread that was delivered in a black iron baking loaf pan. IMG_1560

Next we ordered three different toasts to share around the table. Chef Travis approached our table and told us that all the bread is made in-house with natural fermentation. Two were sweet – Nutella and sliced caramelized banana toast on a slice of homemade brioche with a brown butter streusel, and a ricotta and blueberry compote toast that had a touch of Meyer lemon and mint to enhance the earthy flavors. The more savory toast was layered with smoked salmon and avocado. It was adorn with pickled onion, radish, egg and a Basque crushed Espelette pepper. IMG_1571

A few friends at my table ordered the prettiest brunch cocktail, a lavender sensation known as The Lavender 75. It’s made with lavender infused Absolut Elyx and smoked honey syrup, with lemon juice before topped off with champagne. A sprig of lavender enhances this bubbly brunch classic. Bar Manager August O’Mahoney also makes a vegan cocktail named The Piccolo. It’s a take on the Cappelletti sour that is whipped with aquafaba (chickpea water). Baltaire makes hummus in house and reuse of the chickpea water. Not only does it cut waste, but it’s a delicious vegan egg white substitute. Aquafaba is ideal for those who fear raw egg whites in cocktails, or those who just don’t consume eggs. Some bartenders say aquafaba is a better substitute in sours and fizzes. What enhanced this cocktail was a little baking spice, lime and orange juice.


Our second course of brunch were an array of skillet dishes. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Travis cooked at the legendary Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. This experience inspired him to create decadent thick orange cornmeal hot cakes. It’s a take on Southern Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes. The orange zest is a nice touch.


Wine sommelier Melanie Kaman recommended a beautiful Copain Tous Ensemble Rose’ of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County to pair nicely with the heavier skillet dishes. The bright salmon pink hue offered aromas of watermelon, strawberry, lemon blossom, and orange. The wine offered moderate acidity creating an enjoyable finish. It also cut the fattiness of the beautifully presented Chilaquiles with soft poached eggs arranged in a flower shape. What made this dish unique was the shredded cauliflower.

The last skillet was a Tunisian and Israeli dish called shakshouka. The skillet had eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, and spiced with cumin. 


We enjoyed the last two brunch dishes with a glass of wine Karman recommended. She loves Oregon’s Willamette Valley Croft Vineyard 2014 Haden Fig Pinot Noir. The wine offered a bright cherry and raspberry essence with a juicy acidity. It paired perfectly with slices of harissa lamb with an almond and olive relish and duck fat potatoes. It also went well with the popular Prime filet Benedict layered with avocado. 

Brunch at Baltaire will heighten your senses while enjoying the atmosphere, food presentation, cocktails and wine offerings. $$$ 11647 San Vicente Blvd. (424)273-1660.

This review was featured in the June 7, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.

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