What The Hell Is Aestus?

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Santa Monica has really stepped up its’ food game of late.

Interesting, creative and delicious fine food dining is happening in Santa Monica, offsetting intrusive construction on every block, hordes of homeless and traffic jams.

Aestus Open Kitchen
Aestus Open Kitchen

The latest debut which occurred within the past three weeks is Aestus.

Just so you are in the know before heading to this brand new establishment, aestus is latin for the ebb and flow of the tide.

When my friend and devil follower, Sandy, turned me on to Aestus, I had to write the name down and then google it.

Aestus is all about sustainable New-American food and on that score the dishes at Aestus are memorable and resoundingly delicious.

We drifted into Aestus on a wave of hunger. The interior reminded me of  a “nice” blind date. I wasn’t swept away by the decor, but it definitely had potential.

Our waiter, Carson, had me at hello. I immediately pegged him for a Seattle Seahawks fan and a former Seattle resident and I was spot on. He was wearing a flannel shirt, had a full beard and long hair…the ultimate Seattle Nirvana grunge look.

We talked football for the first 10 minutes and then got down to business.

My husband chose a Schonramer Gold draft ($9) and I indulged in a mini wine tasting, ultimately selecting a 2010 Trefethen California cab ($18). It was the most expensive wine on the menu, but full bodied and worth the price.

Carrots
Roasted Carrots + Goat Cheese

Aestus has a farm to table dedicated menu so we started with carrots. Carrots? Who goes to a restaurant for a carrot appetizer other than a committed vegan?

The roasted carrots with kumquats, vadouvan which is a ready-to-use blend of spices (restaurants love to list ingredients like ‘vadouvan’ on the menu) and argan oil were mind blowing…sweet, delicious with divine whipped goat cheese topping ($13).

I was very tempted by the seared foie gras ($25) with endive, dates and gingersnap, but sharing was the theme of the night and David does not indulge in meat or fowl,

Also enticing, the cauliflower soup with apple and hazelnuts ($10).

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Grilled Octopus Salad

For our next course we selected octopus salad ($16) garnished with fennel, radish and sweet clementines. I know my friend and dedicated Devilette, Meg, says I always select octopus and she does not care for it, but Meg this one is amazing and Aestus should definitely be on your Bucket List.

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Scallops a la Plancha

Back to the main event. We ordered scallops a la plancha that were huge, tender and succulent in a terrific beurre blanc sauce with cannelloni beans, caramelized onions, steamed clams and chorizo ($32)…a real winning dish.

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Ricotta Tortelloni

David’s personal selection was the ricotta tortelloni with parmesan brodo (broth) and sage ($16). It was prepared al dente and they were mouthwatering.

Other main selections consisted of John Dory with celery root, grapefruit and hazelnut ($36), fire roasted 1/2 chicken with potatoes and bitter greens ($24), braised pork belly with cabbage, turnips and sesame ($24) as well as wood fired grass fed flat iron steak ($30) and prime rib ($42).

fries
Yukon Gold Wedge Fries

We threw in a side order of yukon gold wedge fries with chive creme fraiche ($8) because Carson said they were a necessity. The crispy, golden gems were balanced with sweet and sour brussels sprouts with pecans…generous and top notch ($8).

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Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts

I felt as if we ate healthy and we were completed satisfied and satiated.

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Millet Pudding

The He-Devil was seduced by the chef’s mother’s recipe for millet pudding ($9). Turned out to be a delightful decision…creamy, unusual and not too sweet with a dollop of fresh jam and a cookie on top.

Chef Alex  photo:pakorn photography
Chef Alex Ageneau photo:pakorn photography

Chef Alex Ageneau, previously of Patina and The Royce at the Langham Hotel Pasadena, oversees the 60 seater with room for 15 at the bar. Aestus is just a few blocks from Third Street Promenade. I think it far surpasses Tar & Roses and Rustic Canyon.

Former Spago wine director Kevin O’Connor, co-founder of the Lioco winery and bar director Marissa Grasmick (previously at The Varnish), round out the team.

It is very exciting for a westside foodie not to have to drive to West Hollywood or downtown to eat well. Santa Monica is definitely stepping up their game and Aestus is a welcome addition…where were you all when I lived in Santa Monica? I could have invested in way more date nights!

Aestus 507 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, California. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday 6-10pm. Starting Monday, February 10th, lunch will be served from 11:30am-2pm. Brunch begins Sunday, February 22nd from 10am-2pm. Reservations on Yelp SeatMe.

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