Brilliantshine Sparkles…

Santa Barbara Uni & Hotate Scallops
Santa Barbara Uni & Hotate Scallops

Update: Unfortunately, Brilliantshine has left the building…the partnership was not as solid as the food.

The space eclectic.

The owners engaged.

Brilliantshine is a total surprise. Firstly, it is located in Santa Monica which is not a major culinary destination, although the future looks promising. Secondly, the location is non-traditional and you are surprised to find such refined cooking in a laid back, simplistic environment.

Initially, I was a bit put off as I have had less than thrilling meals at Tinga which fronts Brilliantshine. We sauntered into Brilliantshine and were like greeted by like the Goth sisters who were like less than welcoming and like bothered by our desire to like sit outside…like whatever.

Brilliantshine
Brilliantshine

So, I was heading down the glass half empty road and then our waiter appeared all smiles, articulate and gracious and…drum roll please…owner/sommelier Josh Goldman, an effusive oenophilist with a delightful backstory, appeared at the table.

I righted myself and settled into what I hoped would be a Brilliant dining experience.

Surprise, surprise…every dish was fabulous.

We started with the Santa Barbara uni & Hotate scallops with uni oil and uni snow. The dish was literally smokin’. The uni was creamy and sweet, the radishes crispy and the scallops delicate and flavorful ($26). A perfect cool and refreshing dish on a hot, arid night in southern California.

Crudo of Striped Bass
Crudo of Striped Bass

The crudo of striped bass with white soy sauce, edible flowers and peaches was tender and delicious, emitting a dash of heat ($16).

Boy Choy
Boy Choy

The chef surprised us with a delectable boy choy, tomato, cauliflower and red onion offering ($11). A fabulous sauce embellished the dish and the vegetables exquisite.

Chaufka Rice
Chaufka Rice

The special Chaufka rice dish of the night was beyond great. It consisted of Peruvian fried rice with shrimp and scallops roughly chopped with a duck egg perched on top ($18). It was so amazing that we called for a repeat, something we have never done before. The rice was perfectly cooked and the shrimp and scallops delectable.

We ordered a bottle of full bodied red from Languedoc (2012 “Les Heretiques”), my trending french wine region of choice. It was well rounded, with a smooth finish and a definite hint of cherry. It was lovely and can you believe only $32. Come on…there should be more reasonably priced wine offerings at restaurants.

We had a conversation with a charming couple who were definite underachievers. They had recently switched coasts. The accomplished woman graduated from Harvard and her partner, James, attended Princeton. She is studying to be a doctor at UC Irvine and he is a hedge fund guy. I wonder if they procreate would it bother them if their offspring went to state colleges…just asking.

Lamb Merguez Burger
Lamb Merguez Burger

They kindly allowed me to photograph their lamb merguez burger with epoisses cheese, Fresno chilies, egg and avocado ($12) which was purportedly amazing.

Josh Goldman definitely added spice to the evening. His culinary background is steeped in pinkies up, suit and tie restaurants. He has been part of the team at such distinguished restaurants as Bastide, The Dining Room at the Langham, Church & State and ink. He is now a a relaxed short sleeve shirt wearing owner, sporting a full beard and professionally elated.

Julian Cox, Josh Goldman  Photo: laeater.com
Julian Cox, Josh Goldman Photo: laeater.com

Goldman and Julian Cox (Comme Ca, Rivera, Test Kitchen) have built a career out of creating cocktail programs for restaurants and bars. They make up the Soigne Group which assumes management roles for restaurants and beverage programs.

Light Bulb Special
Light Bulb Special

This is their first solo venture and they are all in. There is a major focus on cocktails. Of note, the Red Light Special ($12) made with bourbon, lime, creme de noyau, black plum syrup and served in a lightbulb. Check out the Cobbler composed of Amontillado sherry, bourbon, cinnamon, petite can syrup and crushed ice ($10). They also have 5 beers on tap and an extensive wine list.

Chef Richie Lopez, formerly of Paiche, dazzled. (The Devil reviewed the delicious Japanese/Peruvian restaurant in Marina Del Rey). I detected some similarities, especially the uni and black ink influence.

brilliant sign

The name, Brilliantshine, comes from a sign unearthed at the Pasadena Flea Market. It took a plethora of visits and negotiations until they were able to acquire the namesake which hangs in the quaint courtyard.

The food and drink speak for themselves. Stroll in, dress casually and saddle up to the bar for some marvelously exotic beverages and dressed down fine dining.

Brilliantshine, 522 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, California. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday 5pm-2am. Weekend brunch 9am-2:30pm.

brilliant entrance

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