In the old World Cafe space is this new American swathed in whites.  The same great outdoor patio spiffed up, the inside dining area looks like The Viceroy by way of the color grey.  It’s a clean space, perhaps a bit spartan.   Given they have just opened more decorating may be in the offing.  The lounge portion is low slung chairs and tables from which to sample their cocktail, beer and wine list.

Friendly staff, some head bopping music with which to enjoy a sun drenched lunch, not the worst way to head into the weekend.

The menu has assorted appetizers like grilled treviso with parmigiano, boquerones, lemon vin; oysters with bloody mary mignonette, horseradish; raw vegetable ceviche with vegetable chips.  There are a selection of socca’s.  Think of these as unleavened crepes which may have sausage, kale, caramelized onion and olives; heirloom tomato with arugula, extra virgin olive oil; mushroom with parmigiano, rosemary, thyme. 

Perhaps a pizza is more to your liking.  Margherita, burrata, roasted vegetable or sausage are the varieties from which to choose.  Sandwiches come with either Greek salad, bulgar groat tabouleh, quinoa, mixed greens, French fries or chickpea fries.  Veggie, bison, turkey and beef burgers all dot the menu along with a roasted turkey breast sandwich, an upscale ham and cheese and a raw vegan wrap.

As for the main dishes, dungeness crab salad, grilled ahi and a vegan Morrocan stew share the menu with poached scallops or halibut and another raw/vegan option of “spaghetti” with porcini, walnuts and tomatoes.

The call on this day is starting with the grilled octopus with lemon, beluga lentils and olives.  It’s lightly seasoned, the earthiness of the lentils bring out the flavor of the grilled octopus.  Wish it had a bit more in the taste department. 

The turkey burger with chickpea fries is up next.  The burger is moist with a hint of sweetness from the dried cranberry aioli.  The havarti cheese adds a buttery component to the dish.  The chickpea fries, perhaps a touch salty, are nevertheless a fun reinvention of an old staple.  There consistency is softer and spongier than the fries we’re accustomed to. 

Dessert is a high point and it’s one of the odder desserts The Monster has had.  Let’s start with the dessert has spinach in it.  And tastes like nothing else The Monster has had recently.  It’s a raw vegan mint semifreddo with fruit slaw.  Pistachio and chocolate nibs provide a crunch within the dish and somehow, despite the odds, it not only works it’s refreshing and dare The Monster say, delicious.  Kudos to the manager who suggested it.

As a new restaurant management checked in a few times to make sure everything is to our liking.  Good sign.  With kinks still to work out Areal is a welcome addition to Main Street and a definite step up from the tired World Cafe.

Why go?  In your eyes nothing was better than World Café.  Tool.

Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters

2820 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405

(310) 392-1661

Areal Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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