Second Curious Palate Location Gets a Menu Makeover
On the surface Curious Palate (on Venice Blvd in Mar Vista) isn’t a typical Midtown Lunch’ing spot. Everything is a dollar or two more than it should be, and if my NY self caught my L.A. self eating quinoa a good kick to the balls would be in order. But some of their sandwiches are pretty awesome, and kind of worth the splurge if you’re in the area- like their miso short rib wrap, and the Thai chicken satay sandwich. And if you like nuts and dried fruit in your chicken salad, their chicken salad is pretty awesome as well.
So when I saw that they were opening a second Curious Palate inside the new “Market” at Santa Monica Place, and it was going to have an expanded menu from the Venice location, I was intrigued. I’m a fan of the SaMo place food court, but even I crave a “quality” (read: more expensive) lunch every once in awhile.
Not surprising considering the location, the menu at the new Curious Palate is a bit more expensive than the original, with most sandwiches clocking in around $13. The difference is, instead of quinoa you get your choice of french fries, potato chips or a side salad. Now that’s a price increase I can get behind! (As much as I hate paying more than $10 for lunch, I’d rather pay $13 and be “forced” to eat fries, than pay $10 and get quinoa or, worse, nothing.)
A lot of your old favorites made the trip West, including this flatiron cheese steak ($13)…
… and the turkey sandwich with apples and goat cheese ($13). They also have the chicken salad sandwich (one of my faves) and the miso short rib wrap, which might be the only thing on the menu that got cheaper after the move (it’s $13, down from $14.) Considering that the version at Santa Monica Place comes with fries, the miso short rib wrap could be motivation alone for trying the new Santa Monica Place branch of the Curious Palate. But there’s also a lot of new stuff on the menu too, like fish and chips, a burger, and fried chicken… and I was excited to try it all.
Sadly the fish and chips ($12) was really disappointing, with only two pieces of fish that looked like they could have been french fries. I’m not sure if the fish changes day to day, but the day I was there the fish they used was too firm (instead of a nice flaky white fish like cod.)
The burger was a bit better, but will still be a love it or hate it proposition for most people. Burger purists will likely hate the brioche bun, and the mushy grind. But it’s cooked on a grill instead of a griddle, so if you like that charred BBQ flavor in your burger you will love the taste of this guy. A bit of a warning though… I ordered my burger medium rare, and it ended up coming out rare (with the middle still cold and raw). It also wasn’t on the grill long enough to get a nice char. I almost never send anything back, but I just really wasn’t in the mood for a rare burger the day I went. Of course the second burger came out medium well (they’re always going to err on the side of overdone when you send a piece of meat back), and even though it was overcooked the flavor of the char made up for it. My advice for this burger? Order it medium or more for the nice char. It was still plenty juicy, even after being cooked medium well.
Even though my first forays into the new menu items weren’t homeruns, I’ll still be back. An $18 soft shelled crab sandwich looked amazing (I’ll save that one for pay day, or after I win the lottery), and their bowl o’ fried chicken looked tasty as well. But considering how not exciting most of the dining options are in Santa Monica, I’ll likely be back simply for the old standbys.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love the Curious Palate on Venice! Excited to have a new one in Santa Monica
- French fries and potato chips are so much better than quinoa!
- All the old standbys are so good…
- … and they have a bunch of new stuff
- I love char broiled burgers (and don’t mind a burger that is well done)
- I love the miso short rib wrap, and it’s $1 less than on Venice!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Fish and chips should always be made from cod or something flaky (and there should be more fish! It’s not called chips and fish.)
- I hate burgers on brioche buns
- A bit too expensive for me! I’ll just go to the food court
- I’d rather pay a few bucks less and get quinoa at the original
- The original is so homey, the new location is too fancy
Curious Palate, The Market at Santa Monica Place Mall, 395 Santa Monica Place, 3rd Floor. 310-395-2901