Sunday, April 19, 2015


Ox & Son
1534 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Tel: 310.829.3990
$$$ ($30-$45)
Fri, 04/03/2015, 8:30pm reservation
    (3.5 Piglets)

Ox & Son is the newest addition to hit Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. The place is trendy, sophisticated, a bit rustic and warm all rolled up into one. Tables line the outside of the restaurant for your choice of dining al fresco. The elected plate settings provide a sense of elegance. The lighting is industrial and the benches are extremely comfortable.

The interior

Table setting

Chef Brad Miller offers a menu that is innovative. The uniqueness stems from his own original creations. Flavors that take on an umami palate and pairings of ingredients that are out of the norm is the heart of Ox & Son. The duck confit, for example, is battered and fried to resemble chicken fried steak. It is then paired with a kimchi slaw rather than the usual mashed potatoes or traditional cole slaw.

UNI AND EGGS ($14.00): Soft egg, sea urchin, truffle salt, black bread. The uni was fresh, sweet and was not overpowering. To settle on the black bread was a good idea as it allowed the egg to stand out. The egg was not as creamy as I thought it was going to be. The only complaint I had about this dish was that it needed just a smidge more seasoning. 
BENTON'S HAM AND CORN GRIDDLE CAKE ($16.00): Maple butter, pickled onion. This was a favorite of mine. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting, but it was fantastic. The griddle cake was sweet from the maple butter. The ham offered a bit of saltiness to the dish. I definitely enjoyed the sweet and salty combination from this dish.  Good texture and overall good flavors. 
STICKY PIG CHEEKS AND BLACK RICE ($27.00): Black vinegar glaze, roasted turnip, coconut black rice, charred leek. This dish was just ok for me. The rice was a tad bit soggy. You definitely could taste the coconut with hints of ginger in the rice as well. The pig cheeks were delicious and had great texture but again, I felt that it was under seasoned. 

CRISPY PANISSE ($8.00): Ooey gooey raclette cheese. This was by far my least favorite dish. When all this time I was complaining about how dishes needed to be seasoned well, this dish was just overly salty. Prior to tasting this dish, I had an idea of how it would taste like just like my days in France. This was completely the opposite: it was a soggy mess. Potato and cheese are a perfect combination, but the potato was just way too soggy for my liking. This dish must be devoured within 5 minutes of plating or you won't be a happy camper like me. 

CHICKEN FRIED DUCK CONFIT ($25.00): Shaved pickled vegetables, house kimchi slaw, red chili and local honey sauce. Upon first bite, I was completely disappointed. The duck confit was completely dry. But, as I continued eating, the middle was moist and the fried batter added a nice crunch to the dish. The kimchi added freshness. This was a good dish, but the duck confit was inconsistent. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. COFFEE CAKE AND BUTTERSCOTCH ($10.00): Shattered meringue, brown butter, smoked salt, cinnamon ice cream. I loved the craziness of the presentation. The textures were perfect, offering sweetness  and creaminess from the ice cream and crunchiness from the meringue. The smoked salt brought everything together.

Overall, Ox & Son is contemporary and imaginative with the potential to be something unique. The foundation for the menu is rooted, but just needs some minor adjustments. I adore the décor and when an eatery makes you feel comfortable, you know you found a good spot. The staggering of dishes when they come out of the kitchen needs some improvement, but considering its a fairly new restaurant, they've done well. Ox and Son is probably one of the better restaurants on Montana and is at least worth a try.

Notable dishes: Coffee Cake and Butterscotch and Benton's Ham and Corn Griddle Cake. 

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