Living in Los Angeles, I am happy to drive anywhere in the city in search of good food. But, it’s even better when the restaurant is only a couple minutes from home. Cadet opened at the very end of 2014 in Santa Monica and it couldn’t be a more welcome addition to the area.
Located in the former The Shack space, next to the Verizon store on the corner of 26th and . It feels like you have entered your own living room. Exposed brick walls, low lighting, comfortable banquets and a bar in the center of the room are so inviting. And one of the inviting elements is the wood fired grill that can be seen through a glass window when you first walk in.
The menu is presented like a deck of cards and you lay them out in front of you like you are reading tarot cards.
With a full bar, as well as wine program, I always feel torn which way to go. So, the simplest solution is to start with a cocktail and then move to wine when the food comes out. And, luckily, my dining companions felt the same way.
The cocktail menu was just my style, featuring Fizzes, Sours, Stirred and Cobblers for $12-$13.
I selected The Bardot (bourbon, allspice, pineapple, lemon, mint) and loved the sweetness of the bourbon with the citrus and then finished with richness of the allspice.
One friend ordered the French 76 (lemon vodka, hops, lemon, champagne, sweet tart rim). A classic French 75 meets a lemon drop, this drink was very bright and tart and wakes up the palate.
My other friend ordered the La Collette (Armagnac, Sherry, lemon, mint, grapes). Another refreshing drink, I especially liked the nuttiness of the sherry that lingers on the finish.
Once the drinks were under way, we started with the Hor d’oeuvres page. This page of the menu is filled with some many tasty options and we didn’t go wrong with anything we picked.
With a selection of six Tartines (open faced sandwiches) on the menu, we picked two of them to share. They were easy to cut up but next time, I am going to order one (or two or three) all for myself, along with a glass of wine.
Bartlett Pear Tartine with walnut butter, pecorino and red cress
Beef Tartare Tartine with roquefort, marrow, butter chive and smoked oil
I don’t know what I was more excited to find in the Littleneck Clams with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, smoked pork jowl, cider and Dandelion Greens – the random clams that fell out of their shells or the tender mushrooms. Either way, once every single morsel was eaten, we continued to dip the bread in the sauce, stealing bread from our other dishes. And, in the end, we just took our spoons and dove in for more.
The Dungeness Crab & King Trumpet Mushrooms in a smoked mushroom consomme is one of the most delicately delicious dishes. Consisting of meaty mushrooms, fresh crab and a consommé, I almost picked up and drank it as though it was a bowl of Miso soup.
The last dish from the hor d’oeuvres was the Rachlette with Country ham, potatoes, caramelized onion, mustard and toast. Is there anything more decadent than a dish of melted cheese? Be sure to eat this dish right when it comes to the table while the cheese is still hot and bubbling.
We almost filled up on hor d’oeuvres but moved to the entree menu. It was now time for wine! Wine Director Ron Carey has crafted a succinct wine list of boutique producers from around the world (France, Germany, Austria, Central Coast, Oregon, Napa). We wanted a red wine but as we had ordered black cod, we wanted something light and Ron suggested the perfect pairing, a grenache from A.O.C. Ventoux in the southern Rhone.
With our entrees choice, Ember Roasted Black Cod with garlic, chive and smoked butter, we added Wood Roasted Bone Marrow. This is a fun thing that can be added for $6 to any entree.
And, all of the entrees come with a selection of “table fare”, banchan-like sides and condiments that you can play with. Wrap the entree in spongy sourdough pancakes or butter lettuce leaves and add some carrots, pickles, roasted tomato, mustard or more. The idea is to be creative and just have fun!
With a crispy layer of cheese on top and cheesy mashed potatoes underneath, do not miss the Pan Fried Pommes Aligot from the Sides section.
For dessert, there are three choices and we went with the Chocolate Mousse with brown butter sable. Not what you would typically think of a mousse, the chocolate is bittersweet dark chocolate and was a bit more like brownie pieces, but a perfect ending to the meal.
2518 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404