The Independence205 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Fri, 07/17/2015, 7:00pm reservation
Goodbye Buddha's Belly! Hello The Independence!
Jonathan Chu has abandoned his old restaurant Buddha's Belly and turned it into a cool, hip gastropub-like restaurant known as The Independence. Opened since February, the place is quite open with artistic murals throughout the restaurant. It's not at all stuffy or pretentious, but rather a chic yet casual place to sit, drink, eat and relax with friends (or by yourself if you prefer...).
|Another section of the interior|
Tom Block, who had stints at BLT Steak acts as Executive Chef for The Independence. The creativity and talent of chef Block can be seen throughout the menu. Geared towards providing local ingredients to hungry eaters, the food is fresh and Californian.
The mixologist Vincenzo Marianella of Chu's other establishment Copa D'Oro runs the cocktail menu. The cocktails cater to everyone's needs, from the sweeter-end like the Strawberry Smash to the no-nonsense man's drink like the Smoke of Scotland (Laphroigh Cask Strength Scotch Whiskey, Extra Dry Vermouth, Elderflower Liqueur, Amaro Averna).
The Independence offers a fantastic happy hour and dinner menu and lucky for me, I've tried both (for the piglet that I am).
|Enjoying the Doheny Cocktail|
|NETTLE AND RICOTTA GNUDI ($5.00): This was a light dish with the same consistency as tofu. The ricotta was prominent in the dish (as it should be) and the flavors meshed well together.|
|SHISHITO PEPPERS ($6.00): Smoked paprika, lime. I liked this dish a lot. The peppers were cooked well and had crispy texture. It had a southwestern feel with the smoked paprika and the lime just enhanced the flavors.|
Overall, The Independence is a great happy hour spot with reasonably priced food items to accompany your drink of choice. The dinner menu is tasty as well. Chef Block seemed to have accomplished the ability to serve up good food without being over-the-top. Drinks are downright superb. It's Copa D'Oro cocktails with the option of having delectable dishes at a sit-down restaurant. The service here is exceptional and the ambiance is not too stuffy. I definitely wouldn't mind coming back if I wanted something casual and within my vicinity.
Notable dishes: Spaghetti Di Mare and Venison Ragu