Dining out has become a real challenge nowadays. There are so many fine restaurants, that it makes it difficult to choose. But yesterday, I discovered a new gem in Santa Monica that was full of surprises— Café.
Owned and operated by husband and wife team Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, these two fell in love while working together at their nearby restaurant Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. Both are long-time Santa Monica residents, sharing their love of the culinary. It shows at Huckleberry.
Inside, you’re greeted with an airy vibe that puts diners in a convivial mood. We sat down and braced ourselves to be wowed with their Thursday Night Family Dinners, a concept that began two years ago, and has gained tremendous momentum. It was a wonderful feast.
Couples, families and friends were all there to enjoy their three-course meal, at $30 apiece. Kids 12 and under eat for half price, and if you’re 5 and under, it’s free! How cool is that? They even have games and other distractions for the little ones. Etch-a-Sketch anyone?
Rosemary Walker, Assistant GM took us on a culinary journey, with innovative wine pairings to compliment each course.
Sparking wine got us started, with a NV Sommariva Prosecco Superiore ($10 glass/40 bottle), a bubbly brew with hints of red apple. Summer was still in the air, and this was a great way to start.
Smashed Heirloom Tomatoes with a buoyant loaf of sourdough followed. We dove in. As it was my pal Wendy Cohen’s birthday, cheers were in order, as we toasted to the evening.
Soon, their Spinach Salad arrived, nicely layered with creamy lemon vinaigrette. I’m usually leery of spinach, as it often makes my teeth squeak, or there’s that grittiness to the salad, but not at Huckleberry.
To compliment this course, Rosemary then brought us a glass of Chardonnay, a 2010 Storrs Vineyard ($12 glass/40 bottle) with hints of floral and peach, accentuated with blush from tart green apples and a stint of acidity. Nice!
Two types of meatloaf followed, with both of us favoring the Niman Ranch with Weiser Farms mashed potatoes, and sautéed green beans. The lentil meatloaf was also dense and good, for those steering away from meat. Both portions were generous and required doggie bags for our journey home.
With the meatloaf, we enjoyed Rosemary’s suggestion of a 2009 Lioco “Indica”, ($13 glass/45 bottle), a blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Petite Syrah from Mendocino County, with hints of blueberry and boysenberry, and a whisper of bay leaf and graphite. Does life get any better? Maybe it’s my birthday too!
Dessert? We devoured their Baked Apples; with an oat crumble topping, coupled with their Sweet Rose Creamery vanilla bean ice cream. We were both soon members of the clean plate club.
This is a gem of a spot. If you’re not up for their Family Dining excursion, come by for breakfast, lunch or dinner and order off the regular menu.
Other properties include their popular Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen, Milo Olive, and Sweet Rose Creamery.
I’ll definitely be back!
Huckleberry Bakery and Café
1014 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA. 90401