NEXT DOOR by JOSIE - Santa Monica
Dined there last night with my wife. Although the flat screens above the bar earned an eye roll from the missus (and although I love sports, this is not even remotely a sports bar, so I have to agree.). Don't we all get enough screen time? And if you want to follow March Madness, The Daily Pint is two blocks away.
We arrived at 7:15p, and it was packed. No rezzies, so we were told it would be a 25 minute wait. Grabbed a drink at the bar (bar tender was a bit overwhelmed), and were seated within 10 minutes, but who's counting.
We had a lot of little plates. The highlights were the deviled egg with duck "cracklings" and the duck confit version of a Banh mi sandwich. Delicious. Seasonal veggies in a broth and baby kale salad were ho hum (still trying to find the perfect kale salad), the "booze-cured" salmon had not even a whiff of its curing. Basically lox, capers, cream cheese. Flavorful and satisfying, but if you're going to provide a dish description with a big wink like "booze cured" you had better deliver something memorable. We had three cheeses, all cow. Presentation (with fig, a single date, toasts) pretty standard, as were the cheeses.
Decor is better than average. A bit loud, but table spacing is good (a big pet peeve with me), and by 8:30 the place was starting to empty (ah, LA) and it got much quieter. If you can stand to wait until 8:30 or 9 to eat, it's the perfect time at Next Door.
I adore their roast pork Philly sandwich at lunch, with smoked provolone & fried broccoli rabe, it is the bomb.
My boys, who are fast becoming cheeseburger aficionados, said their burgers were the best they ever had, including Mom's, and I couldn't help but notice all the juice exuding from them.
I ate here when I was in LA last month, and we really enjoyed it. We had a large group, so we were able to try many dishes. Highlights were the shrimp and grits....plump shrimp in a slightly sweet sauce, served over delicious cheesy grits. I also really liked the duck confit banh mi, but I thought the roast pork sandwich with provolone and kale was even better. This was sort of a play on the Philadelphia-style sandwich, but instead of sauteed greens, they used crisply fried kale. The sweet potato fries were also particularly good.
Cocktails were pretty good to great...my first one with lemon and strawberry was a bit boring (Jen's Lemonade) but the second (Queen of the Desert), with jalapeño, was really great (and this is coming from someone who doesn't usually like spicy drinks)
Service was friendly, and drinks and snacks were cheaper at Happy Hour. Definitely a fun place, and glad I got to pay it a visit.
re: Dave MP
We need to give Next Door another try. Our first experience wasn't nearly as successful as yours was. We tried burgers (the meat was ground too finely and a bit too much on the grease quotient) and the wild game chili which just didn't pack enough flavor for me. Since it's all of 5 minutes or so from our house I need to forget the first time and go back and try some different items.