Saturday, June 02, 2007
Solo Dining at Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica
I've shopped the Saturday and Sunday Farmers' Markets. Walked the pier. Sunned on the beach. But dinner? On a weeknight? In Santa Monica? Never. I'm an eastside gal, rarely venturing west of La Cienega Monday through Friday. J has coworkers that drive 2 hours each way to work, so they can own a home they never spend time in, while we've set up our LA lives limiting our weekday radius to no more than 20 minutes in each direction.
But now, I'm leaving. And suddenly I'm willing to expand my driving universe, lest I miss out on a great LA adventure. Therefore, when Caroline invited me to sample desserts and drinks at a beachfront hotel, I eagerly agreed.
However, before dessert and drinks comes dinner, and I was craving a meal alone at a cozy bar. I know solo dining makes some people cringe in embarrassment, but I love it. I can order exactly what I want, do some people-watching, sit alone with my thoughts, make friends with the bartender or pretend to be a woman of mystery.
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar's a good spot for solo dining. You're more likely to get a seat for just one at the tiny bar, and the smallish starter items allow for a single diner to sample multiple dishes. I couldn't resist ordering the springiest menu item -- fresh fennel, baby artichoke and fava bean salad, though I had no clue what wine to pair with it. Indulging my inner girliness, I picked a prosecco "cocktail" instead, the Indochine, with lemongrass and ginger. This was surprisingly mild, lacking a ginger bite, but totally drinkable. Another bonus of dining alone: no shame about skipping the wine list at a wine bar.
I crunched my way through about 1/2 of the fennel/artichoke/fava concoction, but then, I'll admit, I got bored. Like the ginger in the cocktail, the fennel didn't have much zing, plus fresh dill overpowered all other flavors. Fortunately, the bits and bites on the Moroccan salad plate had zing to spare, and I gobbled them up, with a plume of spicy homemade harissa topping each bite (see the center of the picture to the left).
By the time I left, the place was crowded and loud, full of creatures much blonder and bronzer than my eastside neighbors. Having had enough alone time as a brunette in the beach town, I was relieved to head to the Viceroy and meet my fellow dark-haired friends.
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen
1119 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401