Santa Monica, CA
March 4, 2015
By Sydney Delaney
Tucked inside the large outdoor Santa Monica Place mall, this little gem of a restaurant makes its home inside the Nordstrom’s department store where fine dining and shopping make good company. With a classic let’s-meet-for-a-bite lounge ambiance and convenient location, Blue Stove features fine-dining style selection of tapas and small plates. We were warmly greeted and offered a cozy booth and a heap of warm, fresh crusty bread to start.
The menu is simple yet wide-ranging for all types of diners and accommodates the variety most modern LA eateries offer on a petit scale with casual refinement. We enjoyed the privacy and quiet once inside that sets the restaurant apart from noise and hustle of the 3rd St Promenade’s foot traffic. Service was charming, fast and responsive to questions about seasonal ingredients, vegetarian or fish options and preferences for wine. With a party of eaters favoring different dietary requests, the menu actually offered something for vegetarians, gluten-free food lovers and those who prefer fish or meat as the main part of their meal. We left it up to our server to determine the best varietal of wine with each course. Blue Stove is the kind of place where we find new, delicious small plates and order old favorites on an updated and evolving seasonal menu with select fresh ingredients, like their Burrata and Heirloom tomato salad with micro basil and balsamic reduction or the mouth-watering Cilantro Lime Chicken tacos. Following plates included Banh Mi Vietnamese chicken sandwhich stacked with Serrano-pickled vegetables on an old French roll served with crispy fried lotus chips, amazing Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Garlic butter or their popular Jumbo Lump Crab cakes with Remoulade.
Dishes like Crispy Parmesan Polenta & Arugula salad transitioned well to their Lemon Scented Risotto with Seared Scallops and French Beans, cooked perfectly with a crisp-tender bite, both dishes alternating well between fresh verdant green flavors and creamy richer textures. Worth eating again and again.
Served in mini –courses with promptness so there is a nice continual tasting of each dish, wonderfully paired with a selection of California and French vintages that kept our palates refreshed and open for the next course. Among our favorites were the Terrace Chenin Blanc, Stag’s Leap Chardonnay, Santa Cristina Campogrande and a Delas Cote du Rhone.
For sweet surprise, we were served Lemon Curd Crème Brulee for an easy dessert that offers a shared way to end the meal with real, richly aromatic vanilla bean layering the bottom of the generously sized ramekin and the lovely crackle topping just before the smooth custard. On a final note, we sipped a round of Italian roast coffee in an elegant French press topped of the experience for everyone to share in completing our Blue Stove meal.
We came away with a relaxed yet quick dining experience that Blue Stove is a little like a BKS – best kept secret, of yummy yet refined tapas, light appetizers and heartier small plates with flavorful seasonal ingredients. Whether it’s for a fast-but-satisfying afternoon bite, on-the-go upscale shopping snack or the ideal place for a low-key business lunch, Blue Stove cooks and serves to please.
Thank you to the hostess and our wonderful server at Blue Stove!