Have you heard of the restaurant Summer House Santa Monica located in “North Bethesda?” I hadn’t either – and boy were we missing out. First thing’s first, “North Bethesda” does not exist – it’s Rockville. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me take you on a beach getaway as we tour the Californian cuisine of this fantastic new eatery.
As I walked into this breezy eatery, relaxation overcame me. The decor reminds me of my childhood beach vacations with white plantation shutters, palm fronds, twinkle lights, wicker chairs and lots of ceiling fans. The open concept allows for fun people-watching from the dining room into the bar and the open kitchen. Luxurious booths line the perimeter of the dining room and face outward, so you’ll never miss out on the action. Walking past the bakery counter on my way in set my sights on dessert – smart cookies.
My mom joined me for this dining adventure and we started off with some handcrafted cocktails: the strawberry jam (vodka, limoncello, strawberry jam, lemon, mint), and the pomelo fresco (uncle val’s gin, ginger, mint, grapefruit, lemon). Both boasting house-made concoctions, they were refreshing and smooth without being overly sweet or boozy. Had I not been driving, I could have easily downed about five. I highly recommend trying one and/or both of these libations.
Our server, Elizabeth, was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and recommended great dishes for us to try when we just couldn’t make the decisions on our own. To get things started, we tried the ahi tuna and watermelon tostadas. A perfect bite to whet our appetites, these tostadas were super crispy, with just a dab of jalapeno guacamole that packed the perfect punch of heat into the bite. The tuna was fresh and fatty, rounding out the balance of the bite with a hint of sweetness from the watermelon. 100% order these.
Next up: local burrata and roasted cauliflower. Honestly, you can stop here. If all you order are the tostadas, burrata and cauliflower, you will leave happy and healthy.
The burrata… OMG THE BURRATA! A picture perfect orb of the creamy cheese is placed atop slow roasted tomato jam, that is almost sweet with such concentrated flavor, and a few leaves of peppery arugula. It’s served with house-made bread that is soft and chewy, no risk of cutting your mouth as you dig in for a bite – a masterpiece.
And then – the roasted cauliflower – serve this to me on my death bed. Fire roasted cauliflower is tossed in jalapeno pesto and coated lightly with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. You get crunchy, salty, spicy, fresh, hot and tasty happiness. Why isn’t jalapeno pesto served with everything? A perfect dish to share – do it.
Onward! For the entrée portion of our beach getaway, mom tried the halibut on special, and I the chicken taco platter. Mom clearly won this round with the buttery, flaky halibut topped with an olive and almond tapenade. It was accompanied by fat, tender asparagus that had been lightly peeled for maximum enjoyment. As she described it – superb. The fish really shined with a hint of acid, some tang from the olives and a tinge of guilt with the buttery asparagus. We ate it up within minutes.
The ancho-marinated amish chicken taco platter was what you’d expect of a taco platter: black beans, rice, guacamole, salsa, and……my arch enemy…. corn tortillas. I am a flour tortilla kind of girl, solely because I know how hard they are to get right at a restaurant. Unfortunately my tortillas were cold and cardboard-y, but I was not shy to let the manager, Phil (my new bff), know and he brought me out a piping hot, freshly grilled tortilla that made me giddy. So be warned if you are not into the corn torts. That chicken was real. juicy. though.
We paired our entrées with the wood-roasted Chinese broccoli. Another star in the show, this super green is blanched and sautéed with house-made hoisin sauce for a glimmer of sweet heat. Obsessed.
For the love of god why haven’t we been putting bacon in our cookies!? We were treated to the whole lot of desserts and I’m not mad about it. The bakery counter included some of my favorite items: the campfire krispie, bacon chocolate chip cookie, and krispie chocolate chip cookie. We also devoured the chocolate trifecta cake and the lemon curd tart.
The campfire krispie is a marshmallow treat made with Golden Grahams, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate chunks. It’s served warm and gooey and is completely addicting. I never would have thought to order this, but I will definitely be back for it. The cookies were huge chocolate chunk cookies – one laced with bacon, the other with mini rice krispie treats! The trifecta fudge cake was layers of moist, fluffy, chocolate cake iced with hot fudge, peanut butter fudge and chocolate fudge in between layers. Incredible.
A pot of herbal tea was necessary after our diabetes deed. Served in a personal tea pot, it was the perfect ending to our incredible experience.
Summer House Santa Monica is a destination worth leaving the city for. Located in the new Pike & Rose complex, it is nestled happily between two inexpensive parking garages for your parking pleasure. From the delightful staff, to the mouth-watering food, every moment was filled with sheer happiness for me and my mom. We have already made reservations for their award winning brunch, and plan to become regulars at this breezy, beachy getaway. Thank you, Summer House Santa Monica for an unforgettable experience!