About a month ago, a big cafe with a big patio – thankfully with the charm to match – opened for business behind MTV Networks in Santa Monica. And this past weekend, the An group (The Crustacean) opened up their garden cafe for service on Saturdays and Sundays to feature a brand new brunch menu.
In the past month, it’s become a favorite forÂ weekday breakfast, brunch, lunchÂ (including grab-and-go) and Thursday/Friday happy hour. But now non-Santa Monica professionals (and non-professionals, at that) can enjoy weekend brunch on the window-adorned, dark brickedÂ patio. Heidi Montag, her handlers, my friend Jim from Vegas and I were all there to check it out. (And for once, the cameras on-site were taking pictures of food, not Heidi.) Inside you’ll find a cool dining area with modern, wooden-metal chairs designed by Catherine An, herself.
For $28, guests get three courses byÂ choosing from an array of starters, main entrees and dessert. I loved the brand new Chilled White Corn Bisque with Creme Fraiche – so refreshing yet creamy at the same time. The Cured Salmon Carpaccio was dressed with Fried Capers, Horseradish Creme Fraiche and Tiato straight from their potted herbs right on the patio.Â In fact, the huge patio is surrounded by planted herbs from which Chef Helene An emerges from the kitchen to pick from, for the menu.
The house-baked ham in the Green Eggs and Ham Benedict had perfect flavor while the Grass Fed Burger really held its own, complete with brioche bun and a fried egg topping the patty. If you need your fix of eggs, Tiato’s got you covered – as I realized later the dishes we gravitated towards just happened to include them in the recipes.
Also, if you’re jonesin’ for some cosmopolitan Vietnamese dishes, Catherine An has put Pho, Traditional Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and evenÂ Banh Mi on the menu. I have yet to try those, but will certainly take an opportunity the next time I’m on the westside. Soon, thanks to many customers’ requests, Tiato will bring over The Crustacean’s famous garlic noodles so those who aren’t right by the oceanfront will have easier and more casual access to those addictive tendrils.
While you’re there, don’t miss the garden market inside. You’ll find random Asian snacks – fresh (Wasabi Peas, Sesame Sticks, Smoked Almonds, Veggie Sticks, Berry Nutty trail mix)Â and packaged (Yan Yan, jellies, and more) – nuts, fruits, and other fixins. They’re all free for the sampling, so you can browse to your delight. Soon, they’ll be bringing farmers in themselves to sell their prized goods as a push to create their own farmer’s market space. Combined with their herb garden, Tiato doesn’t get any more local than that.
Mon – Fri:
Breakfast 8 – 10:30 AM
Lunch 11 AM – 3 PM
Thur – Fri:
Happy Hour 4 – 8 PM
Sat – Sun:
Brunch 10 AM – 3 PM
Tiato Market Garden Cafe
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404