One should not only focus on the final destination, but be aware of and enjoy the road that gets you there. And what a road it is. Let me preface this story by saying it’s Philadelphia blood that runs through my veins, but my heart beats pure “Angeleno”. I love my adopted hometown. It’s a marvelously multi-cultural city that offers so much in terms of culture and things to do. But it is the city’s physical beauty that I never want to take for granted. So, back to “the road”.
My friend Lauren and I are headed today to Santa Monica. The road we are taking to get there is called Malibu Canyon. It’s a winding, two-lane highway that meanders through the Santa Monica mountains and dumps you onto Pacific Coast Highway. I have literally driven this route thousands of times. It’s scenery is a visual image I wish every human being could see, and one you never tire of. As we make our way through the canyon and to the beach, the scenery dramatically changes, but is equally as beautiful. As we drive along PCH, with Santa Monica Beach off to our right, we’re two people who are happy to have been transplanted here.
Our destination today is R + D Kitchen on Santa Monica’s trendy Montana Avenue. This place is owned by a large restaurant group, the people behind Houston’s which had a location in Woodland Hills near my house.I liked Houston’s so I’m not opposed to eating at a chain-owned restaurant if the food is good. And I will say up front, the food was good. Very good.
R + D Kitchen has the welcoming feel of a neighborhood restaurant. It was jam-packed when we were there, but that wasn’t bothersome. The space is modern, open and airy. The service there was very friendly and efficient. The ice tea glass was never empty and that’s always a good sign.
The menu is small, actually unusually small. So, if your offering your customers a limited variety of choices, you better do these dishes extremely well. From what Lauren and I ordered, I think they accomplished that.
Lauren ordered a Seared Tuna Salad with avocado, cucumber, beets and goat cheese. It came with a deviled egg on the side which was a tasty surprise. I ordered a Shrimp Louie which was a more decadent salad. It’s served with four large shrimp on a mound of crunchy iceberg lettuce with a deliciously prepared Louie dressing. It’s surrounded by a variety of cherry and grape tomatoes and avocado. Now I’ve had this salad in dozens of restaurants and it’s not always a winner. It basically comes down to the quality of ingredients. Everything was very fresh, and I really enjoyed this salad.
Next, we ask our perky server what they have for dessert. She says chocolate mousse or carrot cake. Two desserts, surely you jest! Luckily for us we both agree on the carrot cake with mascarpone frosting. Wow, what a hunk of goodness they put in front of us. A moist carrot-y cake with chunks of pecans, and a frosting with just-the-right-amount-of sweetness. Nicely done!
I definitely liked everything about R + D Kitchen. It’s casual, relaxed atmosphere, professional service and well-prepared food makes this a place I will return to in the near future. Especially since the road getting there is so awesome.