Main Street Santa Monica has taken on new life in the Los Angeles restaurant scene. With new spots opening like The Anchor, Komodo Cafe, Fork in the Road and Aussie Pie Kitchen, and several more in the works, Main Street is now a place for more than just drunken college kids and pedicures. All of this is good news to me since this is my neighborhood.
Wildflower Pizza had been a long time resident of the Main Street restaurant scene with its bright yellow exterior and casual outdoor patio in back. I spent many a late afternoon with their mushroom pizza and salad outside, so I was sad when it closed, but always optimistic to see if the next iteration would be an improvement.
Wildflower's replacement is Ashland Hill with chef Bradley Miller from Seventh Ray in Topanga in the kitchen. The menu reads like most that tout a "market fresh, seasonal menu." Go ahead guess what's on? Toast - yup. Deviled eggs - check. Kale salad - what are you crazy, of course there's kale salad. Cauliflower, pork belly, mac and cheese. Got it?
Fine, I'm not going to discover a new flavor, but can you cook all of these things well? The cauliflower delivers with a crispy espelette spiced exterior and cool saffron mayo and pickled veggies. Yeah, get that.
I'm still on the kale bandwagon (but will admit it took me a while to jump on), as long as the kale isn't super raw and undressed. I don't want to chew or digest something for the next week. Ashland Hill delivers with a creamy buttermilk dressing and nice touches of cucumber, avocado, radish and pumpkin seeds.
The lamb and pork meatballs sat in a tangy enough 8 hour tomato sauce, but I found the balls lacking in seasoning. Even a little salt would have punched it up a bit.
The pork belly tacos had more flavor with the guajillo chile sauce and tortillas served on the side for DIY rolls ups. The crisp cabbage and pickled onions made for nice toppings.
I will say that the folks at Ashland Hill did wonders to the patio with a much cleaned up and expanded area, draped with white lights and heaters at night, and umbrellas during the weekend brunch. It's casual with an order at the front counter, deliver to you in the back set-up. There's rotating local craft beers as well as a few reasonably priced bottles of wine, all under $50.
Just because someone is serving the CA classics, doesn't mean the restaurant is bad. I don't need culinary genius at every meal. I do want good food and sometimes I want something casual, something for a group, a group with kids, or something on the quick. Ashland Hill fits the bill on all counts.
2807 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA