Brunch at Le Merigot
Lush, lavish, and luxuriously exquisite would best describe Cezanne restaurant's décor and ambience at Le Merigot hotel. And their Lobby Lounge is a perfect place to start the day, meet friends and "rubber-neck" for celebrities while having a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres. The elegance of the hotel is a masterpiece found in its sand-rust veined Alabaster marble throughout, and the area is laid out with many courtyards and levels where one can dine or just sip on a favorite libation. The Le Troquet lobby bar is another special section, combined with an outdoor terrace of comfortable couches, teak tables, and chairs where guests can have fine liquors, premium wines, aged cognacs and single malt scotches, along with hors d'oeuvres. And if desired, cigars are available.
With it all, nothing is as overwhelming as their fine dining restaurant, Cezanne, where one can have a meal outside on the festive umbrella'd Café Promenade, which can also be reserved for special events; or inside where we had our brunch. It's a stunning blend of European elegance, sharing a scene with our Southern California life-style. I thought it very French and with all its beauty and sophistication, the atmosphere is friendly, reminiscent of small Boutique European hotels. We sunk into high-back silken booths, shaped like giant crowns, paired with chairs that are plushly upholstered. And there's a series of massive square columns that sort of divide the areas into intimate and cozy separations. It's all carpeted under humongous chandeliers sculpted as sunflowers around a large disk, with each petal holding a candlelight bulb. The tables are set with crystals, a rose, and personal candle lamps on fine white linens, surrounded with original art and jumbo potted trees. For elegant luncheons or special dinner occasions, there's a private room for 12 to 14 guests with a gorgeous bar separated from dining room by a wall of exotic Indian alabaster that's illuminated at night.
Executive Chef Desi Szonntagh continues to fascinate diners with his culinary genius, taking the restaurant in a new direction by further raising the restaurant's profile. Prior to joining Le Merigot, he was the Executive Sous Chef at the acclaimed Five Star Terrace Restaurant at Hotel Bel-Air, and his 20-years as a chef is impressive with a roster of the finest dining establishments, such as Shutters on the Beach, and other "toppers," from Beverly Hills to Tokyo, Aspen, and New York City.
Since being at the helm, rave reviews include Brentwood Magazine who once wrote "Cancel that junket to France and head to Santa Monica because Cezanne offers classic French cuisine with a modern presentation reflecting local Santa Monica markets." The Argonaut wrote, "Le Merigot's Cezanne is a masterpiece of fine dining." L.A. Brides remarked; A dream wedding reception in the making." They've also received an award as Best L.A. Hotel Restaurant by Angeleno Magazine, and Zagat called it Classic French fare on the beach, excellent haute cuisine.
I have written about their dinners many times, but this time we were there for brunch. However, Chef Desi has also come up with fabulous breakfast specials, (all less than $16) starting at $12.
They consist of Crepes stuffed with cottage and ricotta cheese, served with fresh berries;
Cornbread waffles with sausage; Buckwheat waffles with Grilled Peaches; House made whole wheat cinnamon rolls with fresh fruit; Irish Bacon, organic scrambled eggs; Smoked Salmon, Lump Crab and Cream Cheese sandwich; Eggs Benedict; Lobster hash with Smoked Paprika Hollandaise; and various pancakes; also, a Mexican Scramble with organic eggs, onions, poblano and Anaheim chilies, plus tomato, cilantro, tortilla strips, served with tamale. There's lots more, even Kobe Beef (corned beef hash with fried orgaic eggs; Breakfast tacos, and Stuffed Organic potato skins stuffed with scrambled eggs, with Irish bacon and Maui onions; all the above
Our brunch included marvelous sauteed crab cakes, alongside asparagus, corn, and Jicoma salad in a spicy Remoulade, followed with an old fashioned Cobb Salad of Avocado, crisp Applewood smoked bacon, hard-boiled egg, tomato and Blue Cheese. One could have it as a Turkey London Broil priced at $16.25; we had it with rock shrimp for $18. Of course Eggs Benedict was on the menu and they would gladly substitute smoked salmon for the canadian bacon. But getting back to our brunch, we shared Buttermilk Meyer Lemon Pancakes with Maple Butter; also Le Merigot French Toast with fresh strawberries and sliced banana. Cezanne burgers gave one a choice of cheese, (Swiss, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Jack or Blue) and Angus Beef or Turkey. In addition the menu listed New York steak sandwiches. I highly recommend having Brunch or dinner at Le Merigot, in their Cezanne restaurant.
It was afternoon of fabulous food, — and chocolate lovers beware of the dessert menu, ($8.50).
1740 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310)395-9700. Valet, $4 for 3-hours with validation; catering, major credit cards accepted. Featuring grilled meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables seasoned with herbs; also pastas and salads. Appetizers, Entrees, with NY Steak; serving breakfast, lunch & dinner. For more information, visit www.lemerigothotel.com