The Independence in Santa Monica
Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade-adjacent Asian-fusion restaurant Buddha’s Belly closed last year and reopened in January of this year as The Independence. Initially, the kitchen was to be headed up by b.o.s. chef David Bartnes, but those plans fell through. Instead, chef Tom Block, formerly of Beelman’s Pub, helms the back of the house. Earlier this month, I was invited to try a large sampling of the menu at a hosted event.
Though the menu includes many of the mainstays of popular gastropub fare, the recipes all seemed fresh and execution was superb. My favorite dishes included the fork-tender Grilled Octopus, with smoked beans, grapes, celery, pickled chili; the bright and flavorful Smoked Whitefish Toast with pickled shallots, apple, fried capers; and the Thai-inspired Rack of Lamb, with Thai red curry rub, coconut milk, and an amazing smoked eggplant puree that could be served on its own with toast and sell like hot cakes!
Cocktails are the work of nearby sister-establishment Copa d’Oro’s Vincenzo Marianella, and there’s something for everyone. For those who light bright and tart, there’s the Sawtelle, with citron vodka, kumquats, blood orange, homemade honey-ginger syrup, Curtis lime bitters. For a more caliente taste, there’s the Buenos Ayers, with Jamaican rum, maraschino liqueur, stone pine liqueur, fresh lemon juice, Curtis smoked banana bitters, cayenne pepper & sugar rim. And for those who enjoy a fine cigar, there’s the Smoke of Scotland: Laphroigh cask strength scotch whiskey, extra dry vermouth, elderflower liqueur, Amaro Averna.
There is something for everyone on the menu, whether you’re vegetarian, or a burger lover. There is also has a decent looking Happy Hour menu that I can’t wait to try–a friend has already been several times and enjoyed her visits!
Disclaimer: As mentioned above, this was a hosted event. All opinions are mine.
Santa Monica, CA 90401