Delicious Summer Bites and Much More at Whist, The Viceroy

Sea Urchin Crostini, Sea Salt, Lemon & Lardo

There are bites, and then there are bites. 

The bites are the kind of thing where you warm up to a beautiful place with just the right ambiance. The tastes are deceptively good. Then, you proceed to order more and more, ultimately staying for what accumulates to an all-out meal. I am a grazer, not a gorger; I love bites.

Crab Cake Crostini, Chicken Liver Mousse

Now, a great place to do exactly that is Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica – a place where the indoor dining options are just as charming as the outdoor, with the latter coming full circle thanks to poolside and cabana options. Chicken liver mousse with pancetta on crostini? Heavenly. Dungeness crab cake with yuzu on crostinis? Refreshing. And of course, it’s not enough to put just uni on crostini, but to add lardo? Indulgent. And perfect.

The real problem is that if you don’t have a few camarades with you on this little dining adventure, you’ll probably get real full before you either: 1) Get to try all the bites you wanted to, or 2) Get to any of the also-solid main dishes available. After all, you can’t forget about the juicy, flavorful Lamb Kafka Meatballs, topped with orange, pistachio and yogurt. Nor the beautifully cured hamachi with rhubarb “ponzu,” cucumber, radish and celery.

Grilled Octopus, Romesco, Potatoes, Charred Wild Leeks

All this, while having to avoid getting full on their extraordinary corn bread, which Chef Tony DiSalvo makes with three different renditions of corn to achieve that robust flavor. Oh, and that perfectly prepared Grilled Octopus with romesco, potatoes and charred wild leeks. It’s the kind of octopus dish that converts all those naysayers who’ve assumed octopus, by nature, is chewy. The tentacles are tender and flavorful, yet finished with a crispy exterior.

But of course, I must move on to the mains, a favorite of which was the Broiled Halibut. The filet came perched on a bed of deliciously smoked potato-miso puree and paired with crispy asparagus and ginger. It was a surprising winner – simple but a perfect combination of flavors. The smoke was a nice and unexpected touch.

And as for some other mains, sweetbreads lovers will love this version prepared with morels and fava beans in sherry. But if you’re looking for something a little lighter than that, the potato gnocchi are just as much a treat (and doubles as a vegetarian alternative), with asparagus and morels rounding out its buttery essence.

If I were to pick the one essential dessert at Whist, it would be the Rhubarb tart with its buttery crust and walnut crumble on top. Of course, it comes a la mode with vanilla ice cream. Just try it. It’s just one of those desserts where if you thought you were full before, you’ll realize you do have enough room for dessert. All of it.

So check out Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary’s new bites, served in their chic dining room or outdoors. The tastes are just too fabulous to allow you to get too distracted by the hotel, pool or any of the beautiful views and ambiance they afford.

All food and drink were hosted.

Mon – Thur

7 AM – 9:30 PM

Fri – Sat

7 AM – 10 PM

Also check out special events during the summer

Whist at The Viceroy Hotel
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Favorite Dish: Beet Salad to the Heavens at Whist, The Viceroy

Beet Salad | Hazelnuts, Baby Lettuce, Truffle Panna Cotta

When I see “beet salad” on the menu, I’m not expecting anything particularly revolutionary. I do like a beet in time, however; bring it to me via borsht or even cocktail. The bloody beetroot is vivacious in color and taste. The veggie stands on its own and well, you might have to try extra hard to screw that up.

But none of that really takes away from the heavenly experience I had devouring Chef Tony DiSalvo’s version. I call it a mashup. He adds hazelnuts – a decidedly rich choice and an upgrade from your typical walnuts. And no, that is not feta or goat cheese. That is truffle panna cotta - the creamy, decadent umami to the dish which surprisingly doesn’t overpower.  The baby lettuce used is more of a vessel for all these pickled, sweet and rich flavors, taking the place of your usual, bitter mixed greens like arugula and escarole.

And the beets. They are alternatingly roasted and pickled, and are all deliciously left as the centerpiece of the salad.

Yeah, I just described salad. I can hardly believe it, myself. This is one of those dishes (in addition to the perfect meatballs – but more on that, later) that just proves that Chef DiSalvo’s cooking is underrated. There are gems scattered throughout the menu, and the beet salad is just a teaser.

Breakfast: Mon – Fri 7 AM – 11 AM
Sat 7 AM – 11:30 AM
Sun 7 AM – 2 PM

Lunch: Mon – Friday 11 AM – 2:30 PM
Sat 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Dinner: Sun – Tues 6:30 PM – 10 PM
Wed – Sat 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM

“Beats and Bites” – Wednesdays at The Viceroy

Poolside at Whist, The Viceroy

For the next eight Wednesdays, it will be hoppin’ poolside at The Viceroy. KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad has teamed up with the venue and Chef Tony DiSalvo (Whist) to showcase four international themes with the launch of “Beats and Bites.” Tomorrow, Garth himself will kick things off with reggae, whereby you’ll enjoy a customized, individual plate of Jamaican and Caribbean bites for $25 each. Plan your visit between 6 – 9 PM each Wednesday in August and September, and you’ll be swinging your hips as your tastebuds are tantalized.

Aug 4 & Sept 1: Reggae – Jamaican/Caribbean *Garth Trinidad will host to kick-off series*

black beans, rice and peas, shredded beef, fried plantains, jerk chicken, beef patties, pork curry with rice and beans

Aug 11 & Sept 8: Cajun/Creole – New Orleans

oysters on the half, crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, beignets and iced chicory coffee

Aug 18 & Sept 15: Flamenco – Spanish

gazpacho, assorted chorizos, Spanish cheeses, olives, marcona almonds, pintxos, paella, tortilla de patatas

Aug 25 & Sept 22: Samba – Brazilian

salt cod croquettes; feiojada; churrasco of beef; coxinha-chicken and potato croquettes; hearts of palm salad; caruru-shrimp stew with okra, fresh ginger, peanuts and cashews

Wednesdays in August and September, 2010

6 – 9 PM

$25 plate of themed bites

Poolside at The Viceroy
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401

The 2010 Easter Sunday Brunch & Dinner Round-Up

Photo credit to algo on Flickr

Where are you eating on Sunday? Hopefully you’re looking for a spot to brunch or dine at, because this particular round-up is one I can’t take advantage of myself since I’ll be in Mammoth. Whether you’re looking for bottomless bubbly, a buffet, a prix fixe menu or simply special dishes offered for the holiday, there are plenty of options all around town. Though I tried finding spots to represent the LA neighborhoods equally, apparently the Christians live on the westside as most of the specials I’ve found skew toward that side of town. It’s a curious thing, especially to an adoptive eastsider like myself.

Take a look below for your Sunday feast of choice on April 4, 2010:

Santa Monica: Whist at The Viceroy

Spend Easter by the beach. Whist at The Viceroy’s Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo (formerly of NYC’s Jean Georges) will be procuring an Easter feast to extend throughout the day but offered as two separate buffet menus: Brunch and dinner. Expect a shellfish station as well as a leg of lamb/prime rib station whether you do afternoon or night, but omelettes and grits in the first half and a risotto station in the second. The best part? The price includes access to the bellini station and house wine. Not bad for a such a snazzy place like Whist…

Whist Brunch & Dinner Menu

Brunch Buffet: 11 AM – 3 PM – $55

Dinner Buffet: 3 PM – 7 PM – $55

Children’s Buffet: $18

11 AM – 7 PM

$55 buffet incl. Bellini station, house wine

Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Venice, Beverly Hills & Downtown: Chaya

From 11 AM – 3 PM, Chaya’s all over Los Angeles will be offering a 3-course prix-fixe Easter Brunch menu. It will cost $35 for adults and $15 for young adults (12 and under), who have their own menu. For the adults, though, bottomless mimosas are included – so I’d highly recommend making a reservation right away to secure your slot. You can do this through Open Table.

At Chaya Venice (full menu), who will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in April 2010, guests can enjoy unique selections such as:

  • Spring Jumbo Crispy Asparagus with Romesco Salsa
  • Roasted Beet Wedge Salad with Bacon, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Blue Cheese Dressing
  • Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Asparagus and Roasted Potatoes

11 AM – 3 PM

$35 prix fixe incl. bottomless mimosas

Chaya Venice
110 Navy Street
Venice, CA 90291

Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills (full menu), pick from an assortment of fresh brasserie-style fare including:

  • The CHAYA Classic Tuna Tartare
  • Cinnamon Roll French Toast with Farmer’s Market Berry Compote
  • Grilled Free-Range Chicken Breast with Apple & Fourme d’Ambert.

11 AM – 3 PM

$35 prix fixe incl. bottomless mimosas

Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills
8741 Alden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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Cocktails For a Cause at The Viceroy


It’s Tuesday, you’re at work and itching for that first, delicious sip of a refreshing cocktail in a relaxing, posh lounge. It’s also October and the month is colored pink with breast cancer awareness and you’re due to – quite frankly – kill two birds with one stone. Fortunately, SocialVibe and Noreen Fraser Foundation is hosting a gala of sorts at the Cameo Bar at The Viceroy in Santa Monica called “Cocktails For The Cause.” I won’t lie – the decor inside Cameo Bar still stands as one of my favorites. Tonight only, the bar will be featuring a cocktail called the Strawberry Vice ($10) – 100% of the proceeds of which will directly benefit the Noreen Fraser Foundation, an organization which furthers breast cancer research.

And though you Angelenos wouldn’t dare admit it, I know you could always go for some celeb-spotting. Joining the ranks tonight is a Men For Women Now campaign with slated appearances by Jack Black, Bob Saget, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Connolly and Zach Galifianakis – who co-wrote and star in humorous video messages encouraging men to get involved in early detection and prevention. After all – cancer touches us all.

I’ll see you there tonight!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

6 – 9 PM

Cameo Bar at The Viceroy
1819 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Starr Rum: Today’s Tuesday Taste at The Viceroy

Today at The Viceroy from 6 – 9 PM, you can enjoy a half-hosted bar featuring Starr African Rum. The featured rum drinks will cost $5 each. Choose from a Starr African Rum Strawberry Mojito or Starr African Rum Cuba Libre. You can also order the following Caribbean Barbecue bites, also for $5 each: 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Skewers with Grilled Pineapple

Caribbean Seafood Ceviche with Crispy Spicy Chips

Braised Pork Sliders with Sugar Cane and Guava Barbecue Sauce

Shrimp Skewers with Black Bean Citrus

Curry Rubbed New York Steak Skewers with Coconut and Mango

Braised what? Lately I’ve been obsessed with all things braised; naturally, the pork sliders with guava barbecue sauce would be a pick if I had some time to sneak over to this side of town today. Someone try it and make a report to me, please! To put finishing touches on tonight – KCRW’s DJ Jeremy Sole will be spinning his eclectic beats, adding his magic to the Santa Monica poolside scene.

Feel like lingering a little longer? Any wine from The Viceroy’s 109-bottle wine selection is $25 for the night. With values of up to $100, it’s a good time to take advantage of the view while enjoying your vino.

For Taste of Tuesday, valet is $5 for first hr and $8 for entire night

Tuesday, August 11

6 – 9 PM

Viceroy Santa Monica
1819 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Summer Days at The Viceroy

I’ve always loved The Viceroy in Santa Monica – what with the beautiful metallic greens set upon black and white Victorian angles in a modern motif. There is always something different yet subtle to look at in the hotel. At the same time, I’ve always known the posh palace to charge a pretty penny to enjoy food and/or cocktails (which was why I was so excited to have a Scotch tasting in a cabana!). But this summer will be my real break onto the scene! As if I needed more reasons to take an early Friday off. Or go out on a Monday or Tuesday night. Nights. Anyway…

Summer Fridays (5/22 – 8/28)

Starting this Memorial Friday, Cameo Bar at The Viceroy is debuting a poolside happy hour with drinks that cost as much as the hour in which you order. This starts at 2PM, which means you pay $2 for a drink ordered from 2-2:59PM and $3 from 3-3:59PM – up through 5:59PM for $5 drinks. As for appetizers, you can expect to see items such as a fried chicken & biscuit slider ($2), oyster on the half shell ($3) and pulled pork and BBQ sauce slider ($3) on the menu. Also available are a slider sampler ($10) and a half-dozen oysters ($15).

Now if you’re really making an afternoon of it – because hey! It’s Friday! – you can rent a poolside cabana for a cool Ben ($100) which is alleviated a bit with half-priced bottle service (2 bottle minimum) during your reservation. Fancy.

Taste of Tuesday (6/2 – Labor Day)

As with last summer, The Viceroy will be bringing back $5 cocktails and food items Tuesday nights. A DJ will be on hand for your groovin’ needs. On the Taste of Tuesday menu will be items like ceviche, Asian-fare and BBQ. The cocktail menu will be expanded for this weekly but featured are 40 oz carafes of Cameo Bar’s signature sangria for $15. Platters showcasing 5 “tastes” are available for $20. And just for this event – the normally $26 valet charge will be reduced to $5 for one hour or $8 for the night.

Wine Lover’s Night (Mon & Tue Nights through Labor Day)

If you’re jump-starting your Monday or your Tuesday still isn’t packing enough punch with Taste of Tuesday, there’s every reason to wine. All during dinner service, you can choose any wine off Cameo Bar’s list of 109 wines for $25. Do note that on this list are bottles valued up to $100. So do your research, baby, and try bottles like the Cakebread 2007 Napa Chardonnay (normally $100), Foley 2007 ‘Rancho Santa Rosa’ Santa Rita Pinot Noir (normally $90) and Stags’ Leap 2005 Petite Syrah Napa Valley (normally $100).

This means you’ll see me at least a couple times on the west-Westside this summer. 😉 See you there!

The Viceroy
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Breakfast: 7 – 11AM Mon – Sun
Brunch: 7AM – 3PM Sun
Dinner: 6 – 10PM Sun – Mon or 6 – 11PM Tue – Sat
Lunch: 11AM – 3PM
Bar: 3-11PM

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