This week, Besha Rodell visits Michael’s Santa Monica, the 37-year-old institution “that helped to put L.A.'s version of ‘California Cuisine’ on the map.” The restaurant recently made the audacious decision to hire 28-year-old Miles Thompson of the beloved albeit short-lived Allumette to run the kitchen. B. Rod describes the young chef’s cooking as “food that's cool to look at (in some cases for reasons that are almost subversive), but it isn't so cerebral that it becomes a killjoy. Pure pleasure appears to be the base ingredient in all of Thompson's cooking.”
The chef’s style results in some pretty outstanding dishes:
This means that a crab and uni chawanmushi is built upon a base of savory egg custard so elegant and creamy it stopped me in my tracks...the flavors are balanced, the textures are downright sexy, and the whole thing feels generous in spirit, as if the chef thought hard about how much fun he wanted you to have while eating. [LAW]
The Weekly critic concludes by explaining the restaurant’s “courageous evolution:”
What McCarty has done in hiring Thompson and allowing him free reign in the kitchen is in line with the restaurant's beginnings, but it's also a huge gamble, one that risks alienating the loyalists Michael's has managed to hold on to through the years. It bets on the shaky hope that this food and this chef will attract enough new diners to make up for that alienation, indeed that these changes might cause the restaurant to become truly relevant once more, to thwart the disposable nature of our current dining scene. [LAW]
Michael’s walks away with a strong three stars.