Restaurant Experience: Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen

11 Jul

If you’re looking for a casual place with exceptional wine, relaxed but fun atmosphere, and tasty eats in Santa Monica, try Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. The ambience and shared plates make it perfect for either a romantic date night, or an intimate dinner with a small group of friends. The menu is inspired by farmer’s markets, with a Mediterranean influence, sourced from local, sustainable agriculture, giving it a very seasonal focus. I hear the burger is what they’re known for so if that’s your thing, it’s probably worth ordering. Service at both the bar and table were friendly and attentive. I’ve read some reviews that people find it too loud, but we were there at 8:30 on a Friday and didn’t experience any issue with the noise levels.

Husband and I started at the bar with a glass of the 2009 Red Car, Box Car, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. It was fruity, light, and worth every penny of its $16 price tag. Had I not been the designated driver, I would have downed the entire bottle. The bar is small with five or six stools. Good for a drink with a friend or significant other, but not ideal for a larger group.

We got seated on time and received a beautiful bowl of olives to tempt the palates. I do like that they didn’t start off the meal with a huge bread bowl.

Olives with citrus and thyme at Rustic Canyon

Then we dove in…

Roasted Beets & Farro with feta, cucumbers, fennel, red onion, cherry tomatoes, yogurt

OK, I know it looks like a Jack-o-lantern in the pic below, but it’s actually a pile of bite size fried artichokes. I think this dish was the only disappointment for me. They were kind of fried beyond recognition so I really couldn’t even taste the artichoke. Or perhaps it’s a situation where what I was envisioning wasn’t what showed up. Next time I’ll try the fried cauliflower.

Fried Artichokes

Succotash: corn, tomatoes, spring veggies

Branzino with roasted eggplant, fennel, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, black olives & salsa verde

This pasta was incredibly tasty and although it was not an entrée portion, given its’ hearty, filling nature, it was portioned out appropriately.

Homemade Pasta with Carmelized Corn and Parmesan Reggiano

Overall, this was an enjoyable meal without breaking the bank. Most of the small plates are between $10-$16, but the entrees are a little pricey, with the Branzino at $32. That said, price is relative considering I’m used to the inflated costs in NY. 🙂

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen 1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Ph: 310.393.7050

Click here for reservations.

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