Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ivy At The Shore- Santa Monica and Santa Monica Place

Exterior

When I visit Santa Monica, I am certainly not the one in charge of where to eat and what to do. Some pointers: I haven't found any interesting restaurant in the food blogs I have read that have posts on Santa Monica, and simply I don't do the research unlike what I do for other places, as my dining companion knows Santa Monica well. So every visit, it's an interesting thing about what we will eat and see, as it is almost all a surprise.

Parking

Parking was definitely not easy. In fact, getting to Santa Monica on Sunday was hard. Due to the newly opened Santa Monica Place, people were crowding into Santa Monica. Both lots for the Santa Monica Place were full, with 5 dollar parking available. Valets were busy, and where were we to park? Plus, my dining companion didn't find his planned restaurant until going around Santa Monica's block once round. But then, he stopped somewhere along a street, and we were in. 5.50 USD parking, at Ivy at the Shore, the restaurant for the day. Not bad for parking for three hours unlike at the Lobster!

Interior

Inside, there was a beach like feel that was very suitable for the environment. The chairs felt beach like, the colors were pink and green, and the tables were covered in white table cloth. Plus, the menus had a interesting tropical floral pattern to them. Seated at the outside patio, it felt relatively cool, and the retractable awing kept us in the shade after we requested them to be put down.

Hot Water

Soon enough, our server arrived to receive drink orders. Since it was slightly chilly, one of my dining companions ordered a hot water (1.75 USD). Yes, you do have to pay for hot water here as we found later on our check, just like at Sizzler. But you get a sprig of mint, as many lemon wedges you want, and some Heinz honey...just like almost every other fancy restaurant, but for a price.

Lemonade

My other companion ordered a cup of lemonade (5.75 USD). At first I thought they were kidding by providing such a tiny glass (and that is a tiny straw), but thankfully, they proved themselves right by providing multiple refills- each with a new garnish of a lemon wedge and mint. Can you see why all of these simple beverages cost so much money? Mint is expensive, and so is the lemon with the generous amounts given. At least the lemonade was decent, although it wasn't very lemony with the lack of lemon zest or lots of lemon juice. I did like the subtle hint of the mint flavor it had from the sprig of mint added to the cup. And as we finished each glass, a server silently replaced the glass with a new glass with a new straw, lemon wedge, and mint.

Raisin Scones with Raspberry Spread and Butter

As we glanced at the menus, which were doing breakfast/lunch as well as a special daily menu, a platter of scones arrived with a cube of unsalted butter and fresh raspberry spread. The scones were crispy on the outside and tender and buttery on the inside, with flecks of diminutive raisins.

Soon, our appetizers arrived. Actually, there were two: one of them was the 6 Fresh Canadian Malpeque Oysters (11.75 USD) and the other one as the Fresh Tuna Tartare (10.75 USD).

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And why no photo yet? Here's a large off topic section, marked off with the dashes:

As I was trying to get the camera to focus onto the oysters, which was slightly difficult with the oyster meat surface being shiny and also in the shade, our server came politely to me to say that the restaurant does not want people taking pictures of the food or the restaurant itself. Then, she said to hopefully cheer us up by that negative statement, "We do allow pictures of people. Would you guys like a picture?"

Hmm...smart thought in trying to change the mood back to normal.

Reply? Of course! If I can't take any more food pictures, I might as well get a picture of the group.

Picture taken, the mood changed at the table (obviously), as the thought would be, why drive so far and not get a review done without pictures?

So, this review from now to the bottom down (until we get to a few pictures of the busy Santa Monica Place), has NO pictures. I hope my descriptive imagery (LOL, not really) will make up for it. And if the pictures were allowed to be taken, they would have actually looked quite nice due to the good lighting. Hence, a pre 2009 like Tripadvisor review with no pictures! Have fun visualizing each plate. To help, each plate has a tropical floral like feel to it, all done very colorful.

And the probable reason as for why they didn't allow pictures later on is listed immediately below. Who knew it would come so soon?

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Back to the appetizers. The 6 Fresh Canadian Malpeque Oysters (11.75 USD) were disappointing (I definitely am doing this review in the wrong order and am sounding way biased, but this was the item I was taking pictures of first). Arranged on top of a bed of salt and vegetables and a side with two different hot sauces and lemons, the oysters seemed to take a large portion of the plate. Immediately, when they were placed onto the table, we got unhappy. These oysters were petite. One oyster barely even had any meat. I don't even get why they served these as so, and poor oyster having its life taken away at such a young age. It looked and tasted as if each oyster was cut in half, as some portions of the oyster as usually seen were not there. So in reality, it could have been that we just got three oysters on six half shells. Certainly tasted like that! Parts of a oyster were missing when we tasted them.

This also makes sense, since when we visited Sushi Gen later on during the week, 5 oysters cost 20 dollars. How could a Santa Monica restaurant offer oysters for so little money? Obviously, some cost cutting was done...that being cutting the oysters in half. No wonder it seemed like parts of a oyster were scattered throughout the shells.

People are not going to be happy anyway especially getting a oyster with barely a trace of meat while some of the other oysters have plenty of meat. None of them were as big as the Hamma Hamma Oysters we had at Quality Seafood at Redondo Beach last year.

At the table, my dining companion wasn't very satisfied at all as the oysters she had were not fresh, and I ate the two tiny oysters on the plate with a bare trace of meat- which all seemed like I was eating a part of the oyster, not one oyster. They were lightly briny, and since there was barely any trace of meat I tasted almost virtually nothing other than a crisp texture with the meat and the lemon squirted on top. It seemed like I was eating the outer portion of the meat of the oyster near the edges. That was it.

I'd rather say 3 oysters for 12 dollars than "6" oysters for 12 oysters. Lying brings a place down into a deeper hole and this was certainly the case for Ivy At The Shore. And they tried to cover that lie by not letting me take pictures of it. Or, I would have gotten stopped taking pictures way earlier!

As for the Fresh Tuna Tartare (10.75 USD), it was served on a green plate on top of a bed of mixed greens including arugula, and peeled cucumber slices were set on to the side. On another side of the plate, three large crostini filled the rest of the space.

The tuna tartare was different than what we have had at Woo in Las Vegas and at Charlie Palmer in Costa Mesa, as this tartare was not Asian inspired. Instead, it had a slight Mexican influence with lime, jalepeno peppers, and avocados added for additional flavor. Eaten with the peppery arugula and the crostini and fresh crispy cucumbers, it was a different take from the usual Asian inspired tuna tartare, and while the tuna itself was quite fresh, the other ingredients added a very interesting flavor and textural contrast to the dish. Another plus? Larger serving compared to Woo or Charlie Palmer. But it wasn't anything special.

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After finishing the appetizers, we still had to wait for our main courses. But after about another 5-10 minutes, they all arrived at once, and all of these entrees were from the daily menu aka "Shore Late Breakfast."

One of my dining companions ordered the Fresh Black Cod from Santa Barbara Sauteed with a touch of Butter, Fresh Mushrooms, and Imported Sherry (22.75 USD) with a side of steamed broccoli. The cod was covered with flour and then pan fried to a crisp, and topped with a heaping pile of fresh mushrooms. And the broccoli was cut large and placed to fill the second half of the plate. The sample that I had from my dining companion was very good; the cod was very tender and moist with a crispy crust on the outside, and both the broccoli and mushrooms were nicely cooked, showcasing their freshness.

My other dining companion ordered the Fresh Alaskan Halibut Oven Roasted with Lemons, Capers, and White Wine (22.75 USD) with a side of Mexican rice. The halibut had a meaty texture and was very moist, and the lemon and caper combination worked well with the halibut as always. Fresh, simple, delicious. The mexican rice also had plenty of corn to bring a slight sweetness to the rice.

Both of the fish servings were very large and generous. Good job!

And I ordered the Fresh Crab Cake Benedict (22.75 USD) with a side of red cabbage slaw. I couldn't decide on what to order so I just picked this to try. Out of the entire group, my entree was the most disappointing. What consisted of the dish was two crabcakes, fried to a dark brown, and on top of each crabcake was a freshly poached egg with a runny yolk (good job!). On top of the each egg was was a fresh herbal hollandaise, which wasn't that good as the hollandaise sauce didn't appear to even look creamy- it just looked yellow without any cream color to it. To the side, served on a lettuce leaf, was a mound of red cabbage slaw. The serving size was tinier also, compared to my dining companion's dishes and dishes that I saw coming out towards my way.

The Crab Cakes were average, only being as large as the poached egg. There were shredded pieces of crab as well as lump crab, but very few pieces of the lump crab. Spiced plentifully along with some green onion as well, the crab wasn't very dominant in flavor. I tasted more spice and bread compared to crab, even though I could see plenty of crab. At least the crab was still tender and not dry, but I could feel that even if they substituted the crab with fish the taste wouldn't be much different anyway. Definitely not worth the drive. Maybe it was on their special menu so they could get rid of these crab cakes and start with a better batch.

As for the poached eggs, they were well done since the egg white was exceedingly tender and soft, while the egg yolk ran as soon as I plucked it with a fork. Nicely done, really. The hollandaise gave a bit of a creaminess and a vinegarish like taste which really wasn't needed. The egg yolk took the show.

And the red cabbage slaw was nicely done too. It was crisp and not bitter at all, and a slight creaminess came from the addition of mayo. Herbs like cilantro were added for some additional flavor.

Critique doesn't sound very negative, but its the fact that the regular fresh crab benedict on the menu had a much larger serving of real crab itself on top of a poached egg PLUS a toasted english muffin/ bagel (and multiply times two with the bagel and the eggs and the crab) for the same cost! I didn't think there was going to be that big of a difference; there was. Want a eggs benedict? Order from two different types of eggs benedict from the regular menu from the Late Breakfast Specials sections please. You are doing yourself a great big favor and will end up with a larger serving and higher quality food. :)

I so wished I had ordered the other crab benedict. Or the lobster ravioli, which seems to have a good track record among visitors online.

As we finished, the server asked if we wanted dessert which I declined to. We all noticed she seemed to be feeling down by that statement, but most tables didn't order dessert anyway. Hmm...it seemed as two opponents talking to each other, that scene. A restaurant shouldn't feel like that, especially one of this caliber.

Conclusion? Fresh, approachable food at OK prices. Everything's a bit more expensive in Santa Monica: we know that. It's a nice place for a relaxing morning breakfast and lunch especially with the sunshine pouring in even if it is covered for those living in the area. Those driving far away, like us, won't find much special compared to restaurants in their own area. You have to know what to order: fresh fish, eggs benedict (from regular menu) and the crab salad are a few things that I saw multiple orders of during our visit. Order those, and you'll leave happy, even if the food is just regular American comfort food served fresh.

However I am quite disappointed in the oysters in the fact they were split up and not really "6" oysters in whole but oysters cut up. That alone bumps my personal rating down quite a bit, and nor were the crabcakes very good. Stick to their fish menu and comfort foods instead. But lying will never be tolerated. Time to visit some other restaurants in Santa Monica that are honest!




Ivy At The Shore

1535 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: (310) 393-3113

Ivy at the Shore on Urbanspoon

Ivy at the Shore in Los Angeles on Fooddigger (for the fish dishes only.)

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Santa-Monica-Place-Panorama

Anyway, after the meal at Ivy At The Shore, we headed off to Santa Monica Place, where tons of people flooded the entire shopping center. It was not even easy to walk everywhere since people would be blocking the road. But what I am kidding you about. I wasn't even very interested to shop after that horrible meal that I had (apart from my companions two main courses and the tartare).

Santa Monica Place

The mood at Santa Monica Place was definitely very modern and of high quality. There was a number of luxury outlets and department stores like Bloomingdales, Louis Vuitton, Nordstroms, Tiffany and Co, and the like, and although not all of them were open just yet, there were plenty of people. Cadillac also had cars on display being a sponsor, and there were posters on becoming a fan on facebook (become a fan of Eat. Travel. Eat! on facebook too while you are at it).

People at Santa Monica Place

See what I mean? Tons of people, a Cadillac SRX, and L'Occitane, a high end skincare/bath store.

Mannequins

Mannequins 2

Another interesting thing was an art exhibit: 100 manequins placed all over Santa Monica place, each with an interesting design thought.

Parking

As we went back to get our car from the valet parking, we managed to also pass by the parking structure which had a interesting thing with pops of color coming in from the poles. Can you see? And that's the end of this trip. Nope, not as fun as last time at all. No piano window shopping, no beach walking. But it was a trip nevertheless. Plus, when we made a stop back in LA, we saw a movie being shot on the street. Yay.

A definitely much more happier post coming in later on.


Santa Monica Place
395 Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica, CA 90401

2 comments:

joanh said...

cool to see pics of the new santa monica place.. havent' been there in ages! i'd heard it had been revamped. will have to check it out on my next trip back!

EatTravelEat said...

joanh,
It's definitely very new still! Definitely check it out next time you visit, it's way different compared to your usual shopping mall.