Small Plates at Violet: Excellent
Never forget….Mother Nature is the true artist.
These are the words which border Violet's menu which Jared Simons, its owner and chef, practice assiduously with each marvelous plate sent from his kitchen. Violet's mood is set the second you enter this lovely restaurant: candles glowing, soft dark colors of the tables and chairs, colorful oil paintings adorning the walls, and soft music being piped in.
We took our seats on the very large, comfortable chairs and both water and hot, crunchy sourdough arrived moments later. It's a one page paper menu for the offerings are changed seasonally as fresh vegetables, fish and meats become available. Everything follows the newest culinary adventure in the restaurant world for all the plates are to be shared with prices about the lowest I've found in the city. And Mr. Simons' spin on most of these plates is about as fine-tuned as it gets!
We divided dinner into three parts: appetizer, fish and meat. Included were the following tastes:
a. Marinated Olives ($3) An array of four different kinds of olives marinated in oil. (A)
b. Chopped Liver ($8.50) Three pieces of garlic toast adorned with a generous scoop of liver and onion jam. (A+)
c. Baby Beets ($9) Two kinds of beets – red and yellow – awash with pickled fennel (oooh) and home made soft cheese (aaah) (A)
d. Marinated Ahi tuna ($13) Four slices of tender Ahi with a side of eggplant caviar and watercress. This went exclusively to Fran and she reported it was "the best ever!
a. Pan-roasted whitefish ($16) A suitably nice piece of fish in citrus brown butter with braised lettuce – a bit disappointing, but just a bit (B)
b. Crab Salad ($13) A large mound of delicious crabmeat in honey-curry dressing and adorned with half-cut grapes (A)
c. Chopped Salad ($9.50) A generous salad of chopped lettuce, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, peppers and olives in a tangy lemon-vinaigrette (A-)
Meat Dishes & French Fried Potatoes
a. French Fries ($6.5) Don't, I repeat, Don't miss ordering this dish for they are the freshest, most delicious fries outside of Paris. Thin, hot, crackling with potato goodness: The Best (A+++)
b. Braised Short Ribs of Beef ($17) A generous portion of meat off the bone, tender and brimming with flavor. With vanilla risotto, butternut squash and Portobello mushrooms. Great – better than great (A+++)
c. Stuffed Leg of Lamb ($15) Served with raisins, wax beans and hazelnut pesto. A so-so, not too generous dish which you can pass by (C).
d. Grilled Bistro Steak ($19) With spaetzle noodles, watercress and gorgonzola. In comparison to other dishes, not too generous here and certainly not-cooked-to-our-specifications (C+)
e. Organic Chicken Meatballs with tomato spaghetti ($13) Nice but Mr. Simons is definitely not Italian (B)
There are six desserts offered – All at six or seven dollars – all tempting and worthwhile. I loved his crème brulee and the chocolate chip cookie with vanilla gelato was yummy.
Violet is truly a wonder-full find. It's one block from the other great "V" in the Los Angeles culinary world – Valentino's – but much less expensive and quite simply, fine! The acid test for yours truly is whether or not I would go back and the answer here is most definitely yes! Mother Nature and Jared Simons are a truly great twosome. Just remember to tell 'em Joseph sent you.
Violet, 3221 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica CA 90405, Tel. 310-453-9113, Open: for Lunch: Tuesday – Friday (11:30 – 2:00 p.m.): Dinner: Tuesday – Friday @ 6:00 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday @ 5:30 p.m.; Closed Monday Approx: $80 for two w/o alcohol. For more information, visit www.violetrestaurant.com