Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mini Foodventure #56: Violet & Air Conditioned (Santa Monica)

This past weekend we celebrated my friend's birthday by going to Violet, a neat little spot on east end of Santa Monica that I've been to before and have been jones-ing to return ever since I got a press release on their re-design about a month back.

Anticipating the dim lighting of Violet past, I didn't bring my camera; that turned out to be a mistake since the new ambience had pretty good natural soft-white lighting. Also worth mentioning is lots of wonderful artwork hung around the dining floor, including one wall that splashed across with brilliant swirls of blues, grays and greens -- the ocean, I presume, in its more pristine, less polluted times (a little reminder of San Diego coastline that chef-owner Jared Simons brought with him, since I doubt any beach in LA have waters of this color).

Thankfully, lots of things still stayed the same. Chef Simons is still the quiet but nice host that wasted no time accomodating our party of 11. And the menu still had my memorable favorite items such as the woody, nutty and earthy mushroom ravioli in sage brown butter sauce and the aromatic za'atar spiced fries with aioli & ketchup dips.

New things I tried this time included a tasty grilled romaine with pomegranate vinagrette, pomegranate seeds, ground hazelnut and gorgonzola and their special of the day, a creamy polenta with mushroomms. Don't have much to say about either other than that they're yummy. The
wine list is pretty small but a diverse and interesting mix.

After the eats, we hauled our almost-a-dozen, slightly-buzzed butts to nearby
Air Conditioned, a wine bar that was unusually happening with the younger crowd on a Saturday night (think Hip Hop music, lots of body grinding and guys and gals calling yelling for sake shots). They, too, have a nice selection of wines, many available by the glass. I took the opportunity to get acquainted with a few Italian varietals, including a sparkling red lambrusco and a spicy and flowery barbaresco. My friends ordered quite a few glasses of sangria, which turned out to be very bland and unremarkable (and probably not even worth the $15 for the all-you-can-drink on Wednesdays).

They also offer martinis, though they are probably made with soju/sake (it seems like they only have beer/wine license).

Overall, it was a pleasant evening that was just naughty & debaucherous enough w/o major embarassing moments to be regretted later on. And I already can't wait to return to Violet and check out their meaty dishes after Easter.



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