Updated: Aug 27, 2021
On The Town With Richard by R.A. Stermer
The Penthouse https://www.thehuntleyhotel.com/
I ended up here after an impromptu walk on the Santa Monica beach and a decision to go in the opposite direction of the pier and Venice Beach. The restaurant is situated on top of the Huntley Hotel, just behind the Fairmont. There was a fog rolling in so we missed the 18th-floor ocean view from the windows on either side.
We started with a Spanish sparkling wine (Cava) Codorniu Anna and paired it with the Spanakopita (An open-faced version of the Mediterranean combination of spinach, feta cheese and herbs. Usually baked into a filo dough this came on a crispy flatbread and held its own against the more traditional presentations I’ve tasted over the years).
We put this aside to make room for the Catch Of The Day, a pan-seared Stripped Bass with a lemon caper sauce brought to the table as a full pound, half of the fish, with skin on. We shared this with sides of Farmer’s Market Roasted Vegetables and Potatoes Two Ways. To begin with, I have to say, that I’ve often found a trade-off between a restaurant’s setting and the quality of its food. I’ve learned to scale my expectations based on this relationship: great setting, okay food; great food, okay setting. This was not the case for this particular dining adventure. The setting was great and the food was some of the best I’ve had in a long time. The pan seared fish was cooked to perfection with a crispy skin and an accompanying side of well-matched lemon caper sauce. The vegetables were excellent, roasted al denté, in oil with a little picante, well complementing our other entrée items. The potatoes were also notable for how flavorful they were (brown butter mashed with sunchoke puree and fingerlings). I started with the fingerlings and was please to find a simple potato which was able to stand on its own without the benefit of an elaborate preparation. The mashed lived up to its promise with an exotic pairing of the sunchoke puree). The restaurant advertises itself as “Farm to table” and this was definitely evident from the quality of the basic ingredients. We finished with coffees and an individual apple pie á la mode. The ice cream was delicious (when isn’t it?) but the pie was a disappointment, too much crust not enough apple. (I’ll concede this to the setting and try the chocolate dessert alternative next time). Overall, this was equivalent to dining at a fine signature restaurant. Headed by Executive Chef Alex Manos this restaurant offered a truly memorable dining experience which I would highly recommend.
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