Playing Your Cards Right At Cadet…

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Please Note: As with many new restaurant ventures on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, Cadet has bitten the dust.

What is up with me…I am on a positively positive streak in regard to my restaurant reviews.

I do believe I recognize good food and appealing atmosphere. Lately the establishments I have been frequenting are nailing it.

This week my foodar picked up Cadet, a new restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.

Chef Kris Tominaga photo:latimes.com
Chef Kris Tominaga photo:latimes.com

Restaurateur Jeff Weinstein (The Counter, Freddy Smalls) and chef Kris Tominaga (ex-The Hart & the Hunter, Boston’s L’Espalier, Joe’s Restaurant in Venice and the pop up, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing) created a restaurant that centers around a hearth and wood-fired grill with a menu influenced by rustic French cooking and local ingredients.

Cadet photo:foodflaunt.com
Cadet photo:foodflaunt.com

I liked what I read.

The location was questionable because I have found, starting with my early days of living north of Wilshire in Brentwood, that very few good restaurants have historically been located in the Wilshire corridor between Santa Monica and Brentwood..

To start with we dodged the $8 valet parking fee and found a spot in front of the Verizon store on the corner of Wilshire and 26th.

We were 45 minutes early for our reservation because we geeked out and had hair appointments together which the lovely Molly completed early.

I have been complaining about my iPhone 5 so why pass up an opportunity to peruse the 6’s. It just so happened that I was due for a new phone so wham, bang thank you Amanda I am now groovin’ to the sounds of an iPhone 6.

Elated from shopping we dashed next door to make our reservation as my Panerai was striking 8pm.

Cadet was buzzing. We were seated at the worst table in the place…next to the kitchen and steps away from the rest rooms. I politely protested, but the wait was 20 minutes for another table and we were hungry. There was also a wait for the bar.

It’s the New Year and I refuse to be a Negative Nellie so early into 2015 so we accepted our seating arrangement graciously. The hostess actually could not have been nicer.

Then Alyson sauntered up to the table and blocked the kitchen and bathroom view with her warm smile and astute food recommendations and the evening showed great promise.

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Immediately, we were dealt the cocktail and food menus which appear to be large playing cards…clever and easy to read.

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Mr. Devil had been licking his chops for a cocktail, but I noticed an interesting Bordeaux Superieur, Le Ringue 2011 ($47). The wine list feature small wine producers at reasonable prices. The blend had a lovely bouquet enveloped in a finish bursting with black cherries.

Fourth generation, old-school winemaker Christophe Quebec has created an excellent value Bordeaux Supérieur which means it’s aged in oak barrels longer than most Bordeaux…a 12 month minimum and comes from older vines.

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We commenced with an outstanding kale and persimmon salad with toasted pecans and bianco sardo (Italian sheep’s milk cheese), accented with a sherry vinegar ($13)…so good it could become a habit.

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Sea Urchin Tartine

This delicious salad was followed by a sea urchin tartine with shrimp butter ($12) that was rich and creamy.

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Ember Roasted Black Cod With A side of Bone Marrow

The fish options were limited to two. I chose the ember roasted black cod with chive and smoked butter which was portioned for one. It was flavorful and perfectly prepared ($29).

I ordered a side of bone marrow ($6) which was tasty, but meager. I wanted more.

Meat options include wood grilled pork collar and pork toro milk braised loin ($30), wood grilled Bavette, a cut similar to flank and skirt steak ($23) and wood grilled ribeye ($36) as well as Jidori chicken ($24).

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Mushroom Pain Perdu

David opted for the vegetarian item, mushroom Perdu overflowing with scrumptious sautéed wild mushrooms and parmesan over a french toast ($24)…outstanding flavors.

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Every table is treated to an array of sides which compliment any of the dishes.

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We also ordered carrots which were prepared al dente and were delicious and so good for you ($8).

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The most amazing potatoes arrived…pan fried Pommes Aligot…hello, sweetheart…crispy on top and rich and creamy inside ($9).

Since we had not had dessert in ages we opted for my husband’s favorite, apple crumble which was accompanied by a lovely maple ice cream ($8). It did not disappoint.

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The couple behind us who were perched at the bar also attempted to enjoy a tasty dessert while his hand sought out her cherry, if you get my drift. Santa Monica’s version of Debbie Does Dallas…wonderful food and a sideshow.

The staff was knowledgeable and accommodating. Alyson added to the evening as did Alex, the charming manager.

I appreciate a group of talented, multi-tasking women. The owners have enlisted efficient, effusive Cadets who enhance the delectable dining experience.

Cadet serves up delicious, creative food which brings taste and class to a dreary boulevard. Melisse finally has a challenger on Wilshire.

Cadet 2518 Wilshire Blvd. between 25th and 26th Street, Santa Monica, CA. Open Sunday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday & Saturday 5-11pm. Online reservations at seatme.yelp.com.

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