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Aug 15, 2010 09:23 AM

Sonoma Wine Garden - any reports?

Any reports on dinner at the new Sonoma Wine Garden at the Santa Monica Place? I walked in last weekend to check out the space which seemed lovely and glanced at the menu which was printed and dated which suggests it changes regularly. I was a bit surprised at the prices of the wines per glass - $18 - $25. Thinking of trying it this Friday but need to be convinced a bit.
Thank you in advance!

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  1. I haven't been yet to dinner, probably need to make a rezzie, but I did have some small bites for lunch. And yes, some wines seemed a bit pricey, I got a house pinot grigio for $10 - not a huge glass, either.

    1. I went here last night with some girlfriends for a late dinner. Wine by the glass is quite expensive, but the wine list is decent and moderately (not inexpensively) priced. We shared a nice CA cab sav for about $50. The food is really good - seasonal, fresh and basic. Some "twists" on basics, like succotash was mostly corn, no beans/soy beans. Food prices seemed quite reasonable given the quality.

      Sitting on the patio was great!! Felt like a modern restaurant in Thailand to me.

      Service is friendly, but quite "new" - lots of trainees, little bit overstaffed, order not perfectly remembered, etc. Oh, and "unfamilar" items like burrata and poppy seeds are explained; very amusing to our table. Sommelier was nice; approachable and knowledgeable.

      The only major downside is loud music playlist designed by corporate committee to have every song appeal to one out of 6 diners. (think oldies, beatles, 80's, alternative, pop, country, hip-hop, repeat...)

      Our total for a light dinner and dessert and bottle of wine - for 3 women was $108 including tax and tip.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ElissaInPlaya

        I agree, Elissa, with all of your thoughts. Music was a bit loud, even out on the patio in the open air, but I'm not one to complain about that, even if I'm old and didn't recognize most of the music!! And by the glass prices seemed high, but didn't get to look at the complete wine list.

        And staff was over-eager, but that was okay with me, too. I think the food was well done, very seasonal and fresh. Can't wait to experience a full meal there soon.

      2. So we were fortunate enough to nab a reservation for last night. Parking was a nightmare, valet was even full. Reminds me of why I'm so glad my DH doesn't work in that area anymore, weekends are impossible.

        Anyway, the restaurant was booked solid. We scored a great table right on the edge of the terrace. We ordered a lot of food, and surprisingly, all of it was quite good. Started off with the white wine bites of smoked salmon pate on crostini - these were even bigger than the ones I had had on a previous afternoon, and still the same price. The wedge salad was nice, large, three wedges with smoked bacon, chunks of blue cheese, brentwood sweet corn, and baby cherry tomatoes. We took half of it home.

        The pizzas are a good size, larger than personal size, but not like pizzeria large. Margherita was fresh and flavorful, crust was decent, they use a wood burning oven. Wondering how they compare to Antica's next door.

        The Sonoma burger was also a good size, on a toasted ciabatta- type roll, juicy and hot. The order of truffle-parmesan fries is also large enough for the whole table to share - they came out crisp, hot and well seasoned. I ordered the macaroni with rabbit ragu & asparagus - it was delicious, pasta cooked perfectly, nice flavor to the ragu.

        Wine prices seem a bit steep, but probably not out of line for the area. Ordering a bottle is the way to go. Service was good, attentive and eager. Food came out fast, and is meant to all be shared, whether listed as small or large plates.

        Did not get to try dessert, we were frankly quite satisfied by then. Can't beat the setting, even with the hipster crowd & mall patrons mulling about the actual food court that is next to it, the place has a relaxed & casual atmosphere, if not a bit chaotic, but I would chalk that up to the "new" factor. In a few weeks, it will probably be more relaxing and polished. Definitely plan to revisit again soon.

        1. Thanks for those who wrote in! I did up going and had a nice evening. Space is gorgeous and we lucked out with a table outside. Our waiter didn't know much at all about the wine list and had to go back several times with simple questions. He bluntly said he wasn't a wine drinker. We ordered the margherita, salmon salad and albacore and clams in piquillo pepper sauce. The pizza and salmon salad were tasty. Unfortunately, the albacore was too salty and I couldn't finish it. I eyed a cioppino on a previous menu when I had walked in but sadly that was not on this menu. The sommelier did come over when we were choosing our second glass and was so wonderful I wished he was there from the get go. The pinot we had was outstanding. I had a pleasant time and enjoyed some of the food. I will return but am in no hurry.

          1. We had a very pleasant dinner here yesterday evening. Reservation was for 5:30 PM for 4 people -- hubbie & I got there at 5:15 and we were seated immediately (didn't have to wait for the entire party - which is so nice). They originally offered us a table with no view - just off the bar area. But I asked if there was a table with a view as it was a special occasion (mother-in-law's birthday) and the hostess said "let me check" and then she sat us a great table with amazing views of the Santa Monica Pier.

            The service was very friendly and attentive and our waitress was able to answer most of our questions about the menu. The food was fine, good - but not spectacular. I would still go back though as it was a perfect setting and just a really nice evening.

            I disagree with the loud music comments - didn't even notice the music level.

            Food we had/split among 4 people: Cheese & Charcuterie Platter, Nectarine, Burrata & Prosciutto Salad, Prawns - served cold with Aioli Sauce, Butterball Potatoes, Roast Pork with Savory Bread Pudding & Mustard Sauce, Pizza with Ricotta, Bacon & Fried Egg.

            The pizza was probably my least favorite - the egg was overcooked and didn't ooze out when cut into it. I think that would have added to the pizza. The Shrimp were really delicious - they were huge and cooked perfectly.

            Dessert: Chocolate Cake, Fruit Pie (the waitress didn't know what fruit it was so we were surprised - it was peach & plum). We tried to order coffee - but they didn't have their coffee equipment yet.

            We had 2 bottles of a Cotes-du-Rhone -- which was a bargain price of $30/bottle and went well with the variety of food we had.

            Total bill was around $200 (not including tip), which I thought was fair and reasonable for the amount of wine & wine we had.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Obessed

              Sounds nice, Obsessed. Lucky you, you found a bargain wine that sounds really good. Will look for that one next time I go!!