Inspired by the culture and culinary traditions of Brittany, France, Cr?me de la Cr?pe Bistro specializes in authentically prepared sweet and savory crepes, which are staples of the region. The staff stuffs buckwheat breakfast crepes with combinations of eggs, meats, and cheeses, and dessert crepes?such as the bretonne?come layered with Nutella, bananas, and housemade whipped cream. Hearty pastas, risotto dishes, and specialties such as beef bourguignon join the menu for lunch and dinner, helping guests recover from stressful daytime chores, such as ironing clothes while wearing them.
Some restaurants have that uncanny ability to transport diners to another place or time. Taking a sip of Lavazza espresso or a bottomless mimosa out on Blue Daisy's patio has that kind of power; thoughts of an Italian street corner or European capital may come to mind. But the many things Blue Daisy's kitchen is good at don't end with drinks. The chefs specialize in crepes, including a savory breakfast variety with mushrooms, spinach, white cheddar, feta, and egg. Others have sweet fillings, such as Nutella or lemon ricotta cheese and lemon sauce.
It's no surprise that it was also the crepes that first helped Blue Daisy grow in popularity and size. Since opening in 2011, the restaurant has moved to a bigger location where the team experiments with organic dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The chefs make everything from scratch, right down to the champagne vinegar and the walnut oil dressing in their salads. And at dinner, beer and wine pair with fresh-ground hamburgers and creamy fettuccine with chicken and spinach.
Josiah Citrin is one of the country’s premier chefs, a startling accomplishment for someone who never even went to culinary school. After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Josiah took off for Paris instead, where he spent the next three years working in the kitchens at Vivarois and La Poste. Upon returning to LA, he snagged a spot at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois, and later worked beside Joachim Splichal at Patina. In 1996, Josiah returned to Santa Monica to open his first restaurant, JiRaffe, a California-French bistro, to great success. But his longtime desire to open a fine-dining establishment inspired him to sell JiRaffe and start afresh with Melisse. Josiah opened Melisse shortly after being named one of the world’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, and since then, his restaurant has maintained a highly distinguished standing. In addition to boasting two Michelin stars, Melisse is regularly awarded inclusion on lists such as The Elite Traveler’s Top 100 Restaurants in the World. Josiah brings his stellar talents to the kitchen each day, personally guiding his chefs and taking trips to the Santa Monica farmer’s market for seasonal produce. Melisse is named for an herb indigenous to the Mediterranean, which speaks to the menu’s seasonality, contemporary French inspirations, and strong swimming abilities. Everything is prix-fixe: the standard menu has featured dishes such as Wagyu beef tartare and wild king salmon with stinging nettles, while the vegetarian tasting menu might have broccoli with egg yolk and braised yuba. Guests, particularly those dining in the two private rooms, can also go carte blanche, trusting the kitchen to surprise them with elegant dishes such as soft poached egg with caviar and lemon crème fraîche.
Few know Santa Monica’s shores as well as Raphael Lunetta. He spent most of his youth padding across them atop a surfboard, frequently launching into the sea to catch each looming wave. Raphael even toured on the pro surfing circuit. But as he matured, so did his interests, and eventually his love of surfing combined with another passion: food. Never one to give up on a passion, Raphael became “The Surfing Chef” and opened JiRaffe. There, the décor may skew toward the upscale—crystal chandeliers, white linens, dark woods—but the Californian-French fusion food honors Raphael’s first love, the ocean. Seafood risotto Milanaise, almond-crusted rainbow trout, and Scottish salmon are just a few examples of the menu's emphasis on local produce and seafood. Sometimes, diners may even catch a glimpse of Raphael at the Santa Monica Farmers Market foraging for the night's ingredients.
La Rive Gauche takes its name from the French word for the Seine River’s left bank, a source of inspiration for the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. The restaurant’s menu embraces the spirit of this iconic riverside area, spotlighting the rich flavors of gourmet French cuisine.
The Zagat-rated venue serves lobster bisque, venison loin drenched in raspberry sauce, sautéed swordfish, and other French favorites. As with any French restaurants, dessert is a must, with decadent delights such as crêpes suzette and chocolate soufflés.
To say that La Provence Patisserie & Café's pastries are authentic is a gross understatement: pastry chef and owner Farshid Hakim perfected his baking skills at the prestigious Hotel de Paris before bringing his cream puffs, macaroons, and lemon caramel meringue cakes to the states. Now, when he isn't busy making appearances and negotiating cease-fires on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars, he stays busy introducing his traditional treats to the hungry customers that flock to his bakery on West Olympic Boulevard. In addition to churning out napoleons and tarts dubbed "exquisitely beautiful" by CBS Los Angeles, Hakim also tempts guests toward a savory menu of quiches, soups, and sandwiches that Gayot calls "impeccable".