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Jonathan Gold Says the Food at Michael’s “Feels Alive Again”

Miles Thompson has revamped the Santa Monica restaurant for the better

Michael’s Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee

This week, Jonathan Gold reviews Michael’s Santa Monica, the over 40-year-old restaurant that recently underwent a serious overhaul thanks to new chef Miles Thompson. The Times critic describes the restaurant as “all very disco-era until you get out to the tented patio, where it is still pretty late-’70s ,” but Thompson’s cooking is very 2017, with a penchant for “dusky greens and splashes of citrus, whole grains and pungent cheese, fermented things and custardy sauce.”

J. Gold seems to appreciate the new contemporary menu at the restaurant that “kick-started California cuisine:”

I’ve found myself enjoying the broiled yellowtail collar, silky strands of rich, miso-infused flesh pried free from the bones, more than I’ve liked Thompson’s more conventional branzino slicked with brown butter. The crunchy, tonkatsu-like pork, marinated with molasses and a dash of fish sauce before it is breaded and fried, is surprisingly good when you fish it out from under a salad of mint leaves and fruit. [LAT]

However, it isn’t all good news for Michael’s, as in contrast to Besha Rodell’s LA Weekly review where she called the crab and uni chawan mushi “downright sexy, and the whole thing feels generous in spirit,” the Goldster isn’t such a big fan:

The chawan mushi custard with crab, uni and crisp grain has been broken and watery every time I’ve tried it, but the layering of flavors and textures has been solid. [LAT]

Overall, the critic concludes:

If old-school service is among your requirements, the restaurant may not be for you. But against all odds, Michael’s feels alive again. It’s a fair trade. [LAT]

Michael's - Santa Monica

1147 3rd St, Santa Monica, CA 90403