When two big annual events fall less than 2 weeks apart each year, it is inevitable that after the big buildup for the first, the excitement of the second lags a bit behind. Not that my husband’s birthday should be celebrated any less enthusiastically than our wedding anniversary, but with our big anniversary dinner at Saint Martha just 12 days before . . . we both sort of forgot to make any plans.
I woke up early to a Groupon email about a deal with Cantor’s Deli (described as “an authentic deli experience unparalleled anywhere on the West Coast”). As two good Jews from New York, we never like to pass up a good deli. But just as I was thinking what a great idea that would be for lunch, a light went on in my head: let’s Groupon Mike’s birthday lunch.
Pleased with the idea, Mike starting scouring for just the right place. It was a gorgeous day in L.A. and when he saw the offer (including glasses of Prosecco) for The Penthouse atop the Huntley Hotel overlooking the water in Santa Monica. . BAM . . that was it!! (We were so excited about the food that I even forgot to take a picture of the view. I got this one from the FB page of The Penthouse.)
Everything about the place was just what we were looking for. Elegant but not fancy. Modern but not over the top. And best of all, a fabulous lunch menu.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
We decided to share everything. Our first course was Steamed Mussels with Hominy & Chipotle Butter. For over a decade my favorite mussels were from a restaurant in Greenwich Village, NYC called “Village Restaurant” on 9th Street off of 6th Avenue. Sadly that restaurant has since closed, but the mussels by Chef Steve Lyle set a very, very high bar. The mussels at The Penthouse were a great surprise and have moved to number 2 on my all time list.
Next up was Tuna Tartar with Espelette Tomato Coulis, Radish & Croutons. We both tend to order tuna tartare whenever we see it on the menu. This dish did not disappoint.
For our entrees we chose the Swordfish Tacos with seasoned rice and corn, black bean, cucumber and pepper salsa,
and Pan Seared Branzino, Smoked Fennel Puree, Cippolini Onions, Chive and Citrus Burre Blanc.
While the entire meal was delicious, we both felt as though each dish was not quite as good as the previous. But to be honest, such a high bar was set with the mussels, it would have been tough to continually top it.
The room, the view, the staff and most importantly the food, all made for a wonderful birthday celebration.