Rustic Canyon

Sorry that Lindsay and I have not had the chance to post this sooner…  Our schedules have been a bit of a mess lately, but a couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to eat at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica (check out a sample menu here).  The atmosphere was nice and mellow, but what we found interesting was that they wouldn’t seat us in the dining room without a reservation, despite the fact that there was only one table occupied at the time.  It wasn’t necessarily the best first impression, but the food was a lot better than that initial interaction.  Here’s what we ate:

Fried Cauliflower

Lauren: This flash-fried cauliflower was served with capers, lemon, parsley, and bread crumbs.  It was crunchy and tangy and really good.  It was a light and summery tasting vegetable to start off with.  The serving, however, was gigantic and neither Lindsay nor I could finish it off.  It was almost too much of a single dish to eat, so it’s definitely something you should consider for your table to share, even though it’s under the ‘sides’ category.Lindsay:  Super yummy and a great alternative to the traditional french fries.  It had the right amount of crunch and acid punch.  It was a lot of the same flavor to eat, and we couldn’t finish it.  The ruling: a good dish, but not great.  

Sweet Corn Agnolotti

Some of the best pasta we've had in a long time!

Lindsay:  Now if we want to talk about a great dish, here it is.  This restaurant is all about seasonal cuisine and their menu changes all the time.  This beauty was just added to the menu when we dined .  The chef picked up this double glorious sweet corn at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and made this pasta fresh earlier in the day.  So sweet, so savory, so perfect.  These little nuggets were melt in your mouth and I wish we ordered seven plates of these and nothing else!  Last I checked, it is still on the menu, so do yourself a favor and have them whip you up a batch.Lauren:  This dish was by far and away the best dish we ordered.  The pasta was handmade at the restaurant with a creamed sweet corn filling and a butter sauce.  The plate was just not enough, we wanted to order at least seven more.  The flavors together were incredible.  It wasn’t heavy pasta, again, it was light and summary and just a little bit of heaven.

Spring Vegetable Minestrone

 Lauren: I’m a sucker for minestrone.  It’s almost like a magnet for me.  Whenever I see it on the menu, I have to order it.  I’m on a search for the best minestrone ever.  I’m pretty sure I’ll find it in Italy while I’m visiting there.  Basically, this minestrone was a bit of a let down.  It’s not that the soup wasn’t good, it was just not as good as I had hoped.  First, I don’t like lettuces in my minestrone.  They’re big, and they get in the way.  When I have to eat around something, I’m generally not enjoying the food as much as I should be.  I also like my minestrone chalk-full of vegetables, and in Rustic Canyon’s version, there was a lot of broth that wasn’t as flavorful as some brother can be.  My recommendation is skip the minestrone and go for the Farro with roasted beets that Lindsay got (provided you like beets).

Farro with Roasted Beets

Lindsay:  Yummy in my tummy.  Why am I so into beets right now, especially since I have infatically denied their deliciousness for the better part of my existence?  I loved the beets, love the grapefruit, loved the farro, loved the dressing….Rustic Canyon, go ahead and take everything else off the plate….too much for my palate.  Overall, the dish was good and I gobbled it all up, but it definitely doesn’t hold a candle to the sweet corn pasta.  And PS I don’t think this dish is on the menu anymore, but another beet dish is and it looks yum, yum, yum.  

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts with Vahlrona Hot Chocolate

To die for!

  Lindsay:  Uh-mazing!  This was a great note to end the meal on.  These cinnamon sugar doughnuts were the perfect end to this meal.  A great early summer dessert, its like you are eating amazing clouds and then you can even dip them in chocolate.  Ladies….you will die and go to heaven and then come back to life to order another round of pasta!  Lauren:  Along with the pasta, this was my favorite part of the meal.  The doughnuts were made-to-order and almost made with a pop-over dough (they were airy on the inside).  They were basically melt-in-your-mouth amazingness.  We also got to dunk the doughnuts into the hot chocolate, and again, I felt a little bit of heaven.  I would definitely save room for these.  They were special.  

The Verdict

Lauren:  I enjoyed Rustic Canyon, but it wasn’t my favorite place to eat that we’ve eaten at so far.  The most outstanding dishes were the agnolotti and the doughnuts, so I would always go back just to get these two dishes.  Granted, there was a lot of food that Lindsay and I considered getting, and I would definitely like to try some of the other menu items (like the Trio of Crostini).  I was just not thrilled with my minestrone and there was too much cauliflower, which eventually made it bland (there should have been some kind of dipping sauce, I feel).Lindsay:  Go to this wine bar for well the wine ( I hear the Plumpjack Chardonnay is awesome), the pasta, and the doughnuts, and leave everything else behind.  While this restaurant isn’t in my “You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Eaten At Theses Top 5 Must-Eat Restaurants” list I would definitely go back there again to see what’s been changed on the menu and sample some new dishes.L&L

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