Michael’s Facelift…

37 years in business and Michael’s Restaurant in Santa Monica is still thriving.

Recently, Michael’s had a facelift which is the median age in LA for having work done.

The attractive Santa Monica dining establishment has long reigned as a pioneer in California cuisine.

I had hosted many parties at Michael’s in the 80’s.

My one complaint was that the plates and prices were always huge, but the portions scant.

Michael’s Patio

Fast forward 30 years…the patio is uber appealing and romantic although the clientele was hobbled and aged.

I was the only one in upscale footwear…the majority were donning UGGs and orthopedic sneakers.

Michael’s helped to put L.A.’s version of “California Cuisine” on the map.

When it opened in 1979, owner Michael McCarty, and his group of young chefs were the culinary ‘brat pack’ of the day.

They were some of the first American chefs and restaurateurs who thought of themselves as rock stars.

Owner McCarty was only 24 at the time and the place was so too cool for school.

With a desire to see the new and improved Michael’s, we got the party started with homemade buckwheat Sourdough Bread with sunflower butter ($6).

The bread was not my thing. I enjoy a crispy, abundant crust.

Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

The bread was accompanied by Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with flax seeds, kanzuri and yerba mote creme fraiche.The tartare was wonderful, but the rest of the plate left me cold ($20).

Potatoes a la Plancha

The Potatoes a la Plancha were fabulous and came with Parmigiano-Reggiano, bonito flakes and furikake aioli ($10).

Ricotta Gnudi

The next course was Ricotta Gnudi with black trumpet sumo, green garlic and frill mustard ($20). I was unimpressed.

The octopus was delicious, but the dish was too spicy for me.

Dungeness Crab Chawanmushi

The star of the night was a fabulous Dungeness Crab Chawanmushi consisting of sweet uni, super fresh and delicious crab, ginger sprout and Japanese sesame ($19).

I enjoyed the meal and loved the ambiance.

The hosts and manager could not have been more accommodating.

Chef Miles Thompson photo:LA Times

Chef Miles Thompson, a 28-year-old chef now runs the restaurant.

Thompson started working in L.A. kitchens as a teenager and spent time at Nobu and Animal before launching a popup, which eventually led to Allumette in Echo Park.

When it closed, Thompson left for Northern California where he worked for two years before returning to L.A. to take over at Michael’s.

It was a splendid experience, but I was not over the moon for the food.

Despite not loving the cuisine, Michael’s  patio should not be missed.

Have a cocktail and do a random sampling as the menu is ever changing.


Michaels 147 3rd Street Santa Monica California. Open Monday-Thursday 5:30-9:30, Friday and Saturday 5:30-10:30pm. Reservations on OpenTable.com. Valet Parking $10. Metered street parking also available.

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