Saturday, May 2, 2015


Tar and Roses
602 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: 310.587.0700
$$$ ($30-$45)
Mon, 04/20/2015, 9:15pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)

Tar and Roses is one of the most popular restaurants to hit Santa Monica. Located on the corner of Santa Monica and 6th, the restaurant is open, a bit industrial and chic with a modern vibe. Floor to ceiling windows allow for potential customers to have a peek into this bustling restaurant. 
A back patio with a number of tables is hidden beyond the main dining room allowing for an intimate setting. Somehow, Chef and owner Andrew Kirschner got it right with the decor (being that he is a Santa Monica native and all). 

The interior
Bench dining
Simple table setting

The menu is seasonal, highlighting fresh ingredients and incorporating flavors out of the norm. As unique as the dishes are, some lack a bit of texture and proper execution. Regardless, dishes are presented beautifully.

The service at Tar and Roses is superb. Upon arrival, we were told our table would not be ready for another 20-30 minutes. Most restaurants simply make you wait, but this restaurant went above and beyond: they provided us with a cheese platter on the house to compensate for the wait. In my opinion, that action alone is a reflection of the staff's character and priority to make customers happy.

The cheese platter on the house. All delicious!

GRILLED ASPARAGUS ($9.00): Romesco, burrata, breadcrumbs. The romesco gave the dish richness, the breadcrumbs crunch, and the burrata added a creamy texture to the overall dish. It was a good dish. The asparagus was grilled perfectly.  Unfortunately, a few of the asparagus were not trimmed thoroughly; this resulted in toughness and difficulty in chewing. 
OXTAIL DUMPLINGS ($10.00): San bai su, chili, green onion. Although the dish contained oxtail, it was very light. The oxtail had great texture and the dumpling wrappers were superb. A great dish.
HANGER STEAK ($28.00): Potato and bacon gratin, kale, roasted tomato. The hanger steak was moist and juicy, cooked medium-rare. The roasted tomato was done well and gave acidity to the overall dish. I adored the gratin; a twist on the expected mashed potatoes. The kale was cooked well and topped with a fried piece to add texture. This was probably my second favorite dish of the night. 
DUCK BREAST ($27.00): Corn cake, preserved cherries, collards, scallions. The duck breast was moist, but the skin failed to be crispy. The collard greens were cooked well and slightly bitter. I absolutely loved the corn cake! If I could eat it everyday, I would! The tart cherries added a perfect touch to the dish to balance out the sweetness of the corn cake. 

CAULIFLOWER ($9.00): Anchovy pesto, pine nut, lemon. This was by far my least favorite dish. I felt the anchovies were off that night and were extremely fishy. However, the texture of the cauliflower was done right. I can't reiterate how great the service is at Tar and Roses. Why? They noticed we had barely touched the dish and  without any hesitation, they took it off the bill when we were asked why we weren't a fan of it. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. STRAWBERRY CROSTATA ($9.00): Honeycomb ice cream. OMG! Can I just say I died and gone to heaven?! When I thought my meal was just ok, this dessert changed everything. The crostata was warm and crisp. The macerated strawberries were sweet, slightly tart and enhanced with the thyme. And the ice cream...bits of honeycomb swirled into this creamy, luscious ice cream. Together, they complemented each other well. 

Overall, Tar and Roses is an agreeably decent restaurant in Santa Monica. The ambiance is sophisticated and is an ideal place to take a date. Although I felt the food failed to amaze me, the service was phenomenal. For that alone, this restaurant deserves four piglets. Would I come here again? Probably...just because it's difficult to find a restaurant with good service these days.

Notable dishes: Strawberry Crostata and Hanger Steak

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