L’Ami aims to please with Mediterranean hospitality
Before I appraise the food at L’Ami in Santa Monica, I would be remiss not to mention another recommendation of this charming restaurant, the atmosphere. This Mediterranean oasis, in the middle of Los Angeles, adjacent to the popular Brentwood Country Mart, is a heavenly retreat on a summery day, where patrons can sit on the patio surrounded by olive trees and imagine they are basking in the sun in St. Tropez. Or, on one of those chilly LA days, when the temps dip way down, to the low 60s, guests can cozy up on shearling covered bar chairs next to the blazing fire inside the dining room, where the radiant heat of the stone hearth exudes a comfort equaled to the warm hospitality of the staff.
For those lucky enough to encounter the owner Marc-Antoine Ramaud, whose childhood culinary experiences inspired the menu, you will understand from where the spirit of friendliness emanates. Ramaud aims to please his guests in every way, beginning with creating a romantic and inviting setting, and then complementing the experience with offerings of fresh, organic and seasonal dishes that capture the Mediterranean culture and cuisine.
The menu represents the varied flavor combinations along the Mediterranean shores, such as the exquisite appetizer of carpaccio of hand dived scallops with truffle vinaigrette with Jerusalem artichokes, chives, mache leaves and shaved black truffle; or a homemade foie gras au torchon on brioche toast with fig chutney and frisée salad. And if you love French onion soup, this is the place to have it, served with caramelized onions, gruyere cheese gratiné and croutons – scrumptious next to the fire on a cold day.
For dinner, some of the standout excellent dishes include Baby Lamb Shank, oven roasted and served with mashed potatoes, spinach and candied carrot; Couscous Royale, in a lamb stew with chicken, merguez sausage and harissa; and you can’t go wrong with the White Sea Bass, served with seasonal vegetables and a medley of quinoa and harissa emulsion.
On weekends, it is time to indulge at L’Ami with decadent and delicious entrees such as Grilled Filet Mignon Benedict on brioche toast with beef tenderloin medallions and hollandaise; or Farro and Goad Cheese Risotto Benedict with green lentils, kale and hollandaise.
The brunch menu also features a kids menu for $12 with a beverage and kid-friendly sections like and French toast, mini waffle with eggs and bacon or a Breakfast Pita of scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage.
While the food deserves high acclaim, the drinks cannot go without mention. The resident mixologist serves up favorites like 1792 Old Fashion Angostora and Peychouls Bitters, with sugar cane, 1792 bitters; and surprising and exotic mixes like Seasonal Rhubarb Beluga Vodka, a blend of organic rhubarb and lemon juice; the Moscow Mule Vodka, a cocktail with a kick made of ginger beer, and organic lime juice; or the refreshing Marco’s Mojito Flor, blended with De Cana Rum, fresh mint, and organic lime.
L’Ami is located at 246 26th Street, Santa Monica, California, on the Westside boarder of Santa Monica and Brentwood. Its entry is tricky to find, hidden behind a wrought iron gate covered in ivy, but well worth the hunt.