Blue Stove at Nordstroms in Santa Monica Place
We stopped by for a late weekday dinner and were pleasantly surprised for a restaurant in a mall store (Nordstroms) - we thought the service was really attentive, and the ambience of the restaurant is set up so that there is a section in the back that is sectioned off so it felt very private. Seems like a lot of the new restaurants in Santa Monica Place are set up to be loud, and we really appreciated the ability to have a conversation in a quiet restaurant as it was not too busy.
Foodwise, all of the tapas we got were well-executed. We got the scallop risotto, clams fideo, cauliflower gratin, and the polenta/parmesan salad. All tapas are between $5-$12. The best though was the apple cobbler/cinnamon ice cream which was recently added to their menu.
We actually went to Bite Bar & Bakery a few nights earlier for dinner. We thought Blue Stove stacked up well with Bite Bar - different small plates, different ambience - we'd go back.
Blue Stove at Nordstrom Thousand Oaks
346 W. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Bite Bar & Bakery
3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
Went the other night, and appreciated the lack of crowds on a Friday night. As previously mentioned, being hidden away upstairs in the Nordstrom helps.
The cherry glazed beef was good, but quite salty. The texture of the beef cubes was nice, with a vague crust on the outside and then a stringy (in a good way) inside. Way too much sauce for the meat, and there was nothing to absorb it. This should be served with a little bowl of rice to offset the saltiness and absorb the sauce.
They had a rainbow chard dish on special. It was red and green chard, topped with prosciutto. I loved the earthiness of the chard, balanced with the salty/smokey flavor of the meat. But it was a little oily.
The calamari was tasty, but absolutely needed the lemon squeezed over the top. The salt and pepper breading was applied judiciously, which I appreciated... not to much, not too little.
Asparagus and mushroom dish wasn't too exciting, and it was quite oily.
The heirloom tomato with toasted croutons and burrata salad was a winner. The balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing brought the whole thing together. Very refreshing. We would order this again.
The banh mi sandwiches were also an unexpected winner. We were a little leery as the rolls were taller than the usual banh mi sandwiches you get in a Vietnamese restaurant. But the bread was perfect for this dish. Fresh and delicately toasted to make it easy to eat. And both the bread and filling were quite flavorful. We'll order this again. And it's served with lotus root fries.... They taste like regular french fries, but have a neat shape.
Overall, the food was reasonably priced and service was good.
Of the six dishes, we'd order two again. I guess that means we need to go back and try more dishes; and based on the previous comments, maybe we need to focus on dessert..
re: lil mikey
I totally agree re the banh mi sandwiches - it was the top winner for us last night at dinner at Blue Stove. We also had the roasted butternut squash with shiitake mushrooms (they must have broiled the mushrooms - definitely a different take), the crispy polenta/parmesan salad, the skirt steak with romesco sauce, and the butterscotch pot de creme. We didn't pay that much attention to the dineLA menu, so I am not sure if these were on it or not.
Didn't know anything about this restaurant until it popped up on a friend's Droid via Yelp search. Had a great rating from Yelpers. And...it wasn't great, but it was good. Service was excellent and it has a feel and a sophisticated menu that makes you thing "A find!"
The salt and pepper squid is really calamari fritto. No, not the best, bu good. Chicken tacos had a kind of high end Taco Bell thing going - which I actually enjoyed (not having been in a Taco Bell for at least 20 years). A chopped vegetable salad was a little disappointing only because I was hoping for something along the lines of what you get at The Ivy (the only great thing from The Ivy IMHO). A skirt steak in a romesco with grilled onions was my fav.
All good. I'll be back.