Cezanne: The Art of California Cuisine
Combining the freshest ingredients with a flair for the artistic, Chef Desi Szonntagh's food will awaken all your senses as you dine at Cezanne in Le Merigot Hotel. First, the place is physically beautiful with big banquettes, large tables and very comfortable chairs, all arranged to the patron's advantage. The white linen tablecloths and gleaming silverware and stemware speak welcome. And when those artfully arranged courses are served, your appetite will be whetted as never before. But I am getting ahead of the evening.
We took our seats at one of their four lovely banquettes. Both the water and bread appeared seconds later and I'd suggest you go easy on their sourdough which is delicious and which may interfere with the terrific food yet to come.
Their new menu stresses both a Mediterranean and casual Pacific-Rim feel: ten taste-tempting "Hors d'oevres", five "Nos Salades", twelve "Les Entrees", eight sides called "Extras", and four different choices of potatoes, fittingly called "Nos Viandes et Pommes de Terre". Chef Desi's sense of the artistic is embodied in his choice of words, as well as in his food.
Fran started with one of his specials, "Artichoke Enveloped in Crab": a warm crab cake over a large cut of fresh artichoke. It was brimming with crab meat and was a most auspicious beginning. My selection was the combination of fresh warm lobster meat and three large shrimp with both red and green chili sauce. The spectrum of colors, flavors and tastes would have given Monsieur Cezanne, himself, pause and delight. My Caesar salad consisted of six of the freshest stalks of romaine, bathed in a piquant dressing: delicious to the max. My beloved selected the Mesclun salad with warm goat cheese and she, too, raved at both portion size and the sensational blending of greens, cheese and dressing.
It was a most difficult decision selecting our entrees for Chef Desi has filled the menu with a most tempting variety of fish, fowl and meat offerings. Attempting to stay on the healthy side, we chose two different fish dishes: Fran chose the Wild California King Salmon with polenta, broccolini and Madeira sauce (on the side). I selected the Miso Roasted Chilean Sea Bass in a soy ginger dressing. The Chef adds the grilled red and yellow tomatoes and zucchini to paint the right picture. Two works of art, both in color, design and, of course, taste. I would give my Chilean Sea Bass a score of eleven on a scale of ten. And the same to his roasted garlic mashed potatoes which have to be the "best" I've ever tasted. Fran's smile with each forkful of her salmon told me all I needed to know!
Both our server and their G.M., Henri, looked after our every need with concern and attention. And, because it was a Sunday and not too crowded, even Chef Desi made an appearance to hear the accolades he works so hard to receive.
A plate of sliced fresh fruit and berries helped the digestive juices come to a pleasant conclusion. My delicious cup of decaf washed it all down beautifully.
Cezanne is THE place for that special celebration. It is large, comfortable and totally sophisticated. Most week nights you will hear contemplative melodies played by their pianist. Above all, you will be feted with Chef Desi's exquisite food. Prices are fair for both the quality and individuality offered in each dish. Of course, when you make your plans to attend, make sure to tell 'em Joseph sent you. Chef Desi likes me!
Cezanne in Le Merigot, JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, 1740 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica CA 90401
Tel. 310-395-9700 Dinner for two approximately $80 w/o alcohol – Open for lunch and dinner with brunch on Sunday.