Sunday, May 10, 2015

OX & SON (SANTA MONICA, CA) - updated review

Ox & Son
1534 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Tel: 310.829.3990
$$$ ($30-$45)
Cuisine: American Contemporary
Fri, 05/01/2015, 6:45pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)


Approximately a month ago, I visited Ox and Son for the first time. For the most part, dishes were good and some needed a bit of adjustment (check out my previous review: I'm pretty honest and blunt when it comes to food. I thought it was the end of it but, all of the sudden: boom! I received an email from the chef and the general manager. 

There's something admirable about a chef who reads a food blog and takes constructive criticism well. Chef Brad Miller did just that: he read my blog, wanted to improve on his dishes, and invited me to give the restaurant a second chance. Not many people execute such actions and Chef Brad Miller's character as a chef has earned my respect. 

The service was impeccable that evening. The staff were on point and diners seemed to be enjoying themselves. The ambiance was still as comforting as I remember it to be. The general manager Brandon was personable and welcoming. So far, everything was off to a great start, but I was a bit apprehensive on the changes of the food. Well, the only thing left to do was to dive in and try it for myself. 

Plate setting
Glass of Bodkin Cuvee ($12.00) : Crisp, light, delicious
UNI AND EGGS ($15.00): Soft egg, truffle salt, sea urchin, black bread. Oh my goodness! This was so delicious! The consistency of the egg was perfect and they listened when I said it just needed a bit of salt. That extra salt just brought out the flavor of the eggs and uni. The black bread was actually better this time around as it wasn't as dry. This is the perfect fusion of eggs and uni.
MUSSEL AND TOMATO CHORIZO POUTINE ($15.00): 8hr tomato sauce, kennebec fries, cotija cheese, dillweed. The fries were crispy. The tomato sauce had richness, the mussels were delicate and the cotija cheese added a creamy touch. A twist on the Canadian snack, this dish was full of flavor (and its gluten-free too!). 

BENTON'S HAM AND CORN GRIDDLE CAKE ($16.00): Maple butter, pickled onion. The griddle cake was definitely not drowned in maple butter like my previous visit. The cake was sweet, moist and delicious. A good dish. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. PRIME BEEF TARTARE ($14.00): Truffled egg, soy, onion, apple, sesame, brioche. I was blown away by this dish. It was rich, luscious and by far my favorite dish. The tartare was creamy and full of flavor. It was well seasoned with a nice balance of flavors. The bread was slightly sweet to give it a sweet touch to the overall dish. Everything went well together. 
YELLOWTAIL CRUDO ($17.00): Yuzu yogurt, thai chili, cucumber, pickled mushroom, shiso. Rather than the usual thin slices of yellowtail, you actually get big chunks of the fish with this dish. It was light and refreshing. It had a perfect balance of acidity, with a bit of spice and hints of ginger. 
COCONUT BLACK RICE ($6.00): Shiso leaf, shaved coconut. I loved this rice! It was slightly sweet from the coconut and the texture was marvelous. I could eat a whole bowl of this everyday all by myself. It also went well with the kimchi slaw from the duck confit dish (just letting you know if you wanted to try it). 
STICKY PIG CHEEKS AND BLACK RICE ($27.00): Black vinegar glaze, roasted turnip, coconut black rice, charred leek. Wow! Did you get it right with this dish! I wanted just a tad more seasoning from my previous visit and the chef adjusted the dish. Now the flavors are enhanced, the pig cheeks are still better than ever, and well, the textures were spot on. 
CHICKEN FRIED DUCK CONFIT ($25.00): Shaved pickled vegetables, house kimchi slaw, red chili and local honey sauce. Forget that once dry duck confit; the duck confit was completely moist throughout! Somehow, they were able to perfect the consistency of the chicken fried duck confit. The kimchi added freshness and the acidity of the kimchi was well-balanced. Not only was this a great dish, but it was beautifully presented. 
COFFEE ($3.00): Can I just tell you this is the cutest idea that any restaurant has thought of for serving coffee? Chef Brad Miller picked the cute cow creamer holder himself! The sugar stick added a nice touch. 
COFFEE CAKE AND BUTTERSCOTCH ($12.00): Shattered meringue, brown butter, smoked salt, cinnamon ice cream. This was just as good as how I remembered it. The only difference is that there was less meringue than the last, which I think was a good change. The last visit, the dessert was covered in meringue (not that I'm complaining at all)! 
LEMON, STRAWBERRY, MALT ($12.00): Milk-soaked yellow cake, lemon curd, strawberries, malt. If you want a refreshing dessert, this one is for you. Three different types of strawberries were mixed amongst the moist yellow cake. The sour cream ice cream was different and definitely went well with the other ingredients. Umami in a rustic bowl! 

Overall, what once was a restaurant that needed some improvement has now turned into something special. The food was fabulous and the service was well, how do we put it, ah-mazing! Chef Brad Miller soaked in my recommendations and modified it to enhance the flavors of the dishes. I respect that and I respect him. Additionally, Ox and Son offers a respectable menu for those who are vegetarian and gluten-free. This is the place to go on Montana Avenue and I wouldn't hesitate to go again. On a side note, Ox and Son are offering weekend brunch these days so be sure to check it out...cause you know I will! 

Notable dishes: Prime Beef Tartare, Uni & Eggs, and Chicken Fried Duck Confit

No comments:

Post a Comment