Mom and I braved a brutal Friday night drive from Altadena to Santa Monica to experience Chef Dave Beran’s neo-bistro Pasjoli. The place was very much humming along when we arrived for an early dinner.
Seated on the quieter side of the brightly lit dining room, we were separated from the open kitchen and casual bar by a wall. Mom sipped some wine while I honed in on the menu of French small and large plates. We focused mostly on the small plates this evening — it’s the way we like to eat.
The first dish to arrive was the blue crab with cauliflower cream and sorrel ($26). The tender hunks of crabmeat were dressed ever so deftly so as not to distract from their intrinsic sweetness.
One of the richer dishes this evening was the ragoût d’oignons caramélisés, a caramelized onion tart with a pâte brisée crust and gruyère topping ($24). Our server described it as a soup-less onion soup, and she was absolutely spot on.
Hitting a lighter note was the perfectly roasted octopus with smoked fennel and fingerling potatoes ($29).
The tartare de bœuf ($26) was mostly straightforward with its delicately chopped beef and caper accents.
Accompanying the beef tartar was a nasturtium “pesto” and country toast.
Rounding out our parade of lighter appetizers was the foie de poulet à la Strasbourgeoise ($39). Each slice contained a smooth lobe of chicken liver forced into hollowed-out brioche and adorned with truffle shavings, chives, and coarse salt. This dish was nothing short of fantastic.
Next to arrive were roasted hen of the woods paired with a buckwheat crêpe ($38). The smoked date-laced filling struck a sweetish note that was unexpected and slightly strange.
The final savory course was the canard bordelaise, a soul-warming duck confit with preserved cherry and country bread ($26) that stuck to our bones in the best way.
Dessert arrived in the form of rice pudding. Presented in an unassuming glass bowl, the riz au lait was prettied with slices of 68-hour roasted pineapple and served with a dark caramel made from the pineapple’s juice. Every spoonful was better than the last until the bowl was scraped clean.
Dinner at Pasjoli was a very lovely experience from start to finish. Service struck a warm and efficient note, while the food was polished with a distinct point of view. Best of all, Mom had a swell time.
2732 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
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