The Montana Ave. intersection of Brentwood and Santa Monica may seem like a sleepy little area of town, but at 9pm on a Tuesday night, Art’s Table was packed. The apparent success of the recently-opened restaurant and wine bar is most certainly due to the delightful combination of refined renditions of classic American dishes, enticing selections of beer and wine, and an exceptionally warm and knowledgeable staff.
My friend and I showed up for a late dinner to celebrate the end to my very long and tedious hunt for a new apartment, and as soon as we stepped into the tiny venue that was previously home to longtime landmark, Babalu, I knew we had picked the perfect spot. The casually luxe ambiance serves as the perfect backdrop for a dining experience that mixes thoughtful preparations of local, organic, and sustainable fare with down home touches like metal plates that are reminiscent of camping dishware.
Since so many of the menu items sounded tempting, my friend and I opted to order a selection of small plates to share, and after some guidance from our waitress, we settled on the Steamed PEI Mussels, the Mini Salmon Panino, a Brussels Sprout Casserole, Sloppy Fries (a delicious Sloppy Joe version of chili cheese fries), and, of course, a couple of glasses of Prosecco to mark the occasion.
While all of the items were excellent, I was especially surprised by the Brussels Sprout Casserole, which was an unexpected twist on the casseroles I grew up with in the South. It was hearty and rich with pancetta and smoked cheddar béchamel, but not overwhelmingly heavy, allowing the flavors of the fresh, green Brussels sprouts to stand out. The mussels were flawless and the Sloppy Fries were delicious, but the Salmon Panino was, without a doubt, my favorite dish of the evening with its delightful combination of flavors and textures: spicy arugula, succulent, ripe tomato and savory smoked salmon married by a creamy chive mayo and sandwiched between lightly crispy parsnip pancakes.
Given the quality of the ingredients and their preparations, the menu is reasonably priced and the well-balanced portion sizes left my friend and I pleasantly satisfied as we took our last bites and bid Art’s Table farewell until next time.