It’s on days like this, when the thermometer cracks -15 and snow shovelers scrape a constant, crunchy chorus, that you (and I) should reserve a spot at Summer House Santa Monica .
Slush shimmies away as you enter the breezy restaurant on Armitage and Halsted, which Lettuce Entertain You opened in November. Designed to feel like a California beach house (which it does—I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bruce Jenner waltzing around with a golf club) the expansive digs boast more than 200 seats, a countdown to summer painted on white-washed walls, floating elms, and a retractable glass ceiling. The framed poster that says “YES” only adds to the optimistic Cali feel.
The cuisine is as effortless and Californian as the surroundings (and also offers a full gluten-free menu).
For starters, I’d recommend the ahi tuna tostadas, little corn tortillas brimming with chilled tuna, watermelon, thai chili, and avocado that surf a spoonful of crema cilantro. The sweet soy-braised pork ribs, which were dusted with sesame seeds, Japanese BBQ sauce and green onions, were a sweet companion—and at six apiece, a perfect amount for two to share.
Summer House also serves a delish range of seafood: spicy calamari, slow poached scallops, grilled Atlantic salmon with wood-roasted fennel and arugula pesto, and damn good mahi mahi tacos, a DIY-plate full of with fennel slaw, guac, and salsa verde.
For dessert, try the Cookie Bar, a buffet table of cookies, Rice Crispie treats, and other goodies laid out at the front of the restaurant.
So spend an hour or two wrapped in Santa Monica weather—you’ll forget you’re in the midst of a polar vortex.
Photos courtesy of Summer House Santa Monica's Facebook page .