Chef Dave Beran will open a fine dining restaurant at 3110 Main Street in Santa Monica in 2024. The chef, who relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 after a decade behind the stoves at three-Michelin-starred Alinea and one-Michelin-starred Next in Chicago, made a name for himself in the city with a duo of restaurants in Santa Monica. (Michelin-starred Dialogue opened in 2017 and closed in 2020, while French bistro Pasjoli debuted in 2019 and continues to operate.) The yet-to-be-named restaurant, located less than a quarter mile from Pasjoli, marks Beran’s long-awaited return to fine dining.
For the incoming restaurant, the 6,200-square-foot indoor-outdoor space will be converted into a 38-seat “secret garden” by Rugo/Raff Ltd. Architects. Principal architect Steve Rugo previously designed Alinea, Next, Pasjoli, and Dialogue. “I really wanted to find a [space] where you felt like you were discovering something, like you really are being transported into a new place,” says Beran. “That was the magic of this space. That’s really where we’re framing everything around.”
Beran points to the 100-year-old novel The Secret Garden as a source of design inspiration. “I always had this dream of finding that key and walking up to the door and opening it and finding this magical, curated place within,” he says. “We’ve been really just trying to play off of that idea — what the fantasy is of walking into this thing you never knew existed and finding this perfect little place that isn’t scary or overwhelming, but instead just comforting, like a place that makes you feel at home.” A garden will be installed in the restaurant’s 2,000-square-foot outdoor area where Beran envisions growing some herbs and perhaps passionfruit vines, and hosting diners for part of their meal.
As for the food, Beran and his team will be serving diners a 12- to 14-course tasting menu that can be extended to 22 to 24 courses, if desired. The cooking will be “very focused” on Southern California and its seasons and produce. “I don’t want it to be that restaurant that you could pick up and put somewhere else and still make sense,” he says. “I want it to be an exaggeration of all of the great things that we find here.” Given Beran’s culinary background, the menu will feature some molecular elements but it won’t be “Alinea/El Bulli-esque, as it has been in the past,” he says. Instead, Beran plans to focus on “refinement” and “finding the complexity within the flavor profiles, not within crazy presentations.”
When it comes to pacing and pricing, diners can anticipate six “pillar” courses (“Larger courses that allow the guests to immerse themselves in the food, more importantly, and each other,” Beran says) with smaller, connective courses between them; the cost will be under $300. Cooks will deliver each course to diners and add finishing touches tableside. The new restaurant, which has been percolating in Beran’s mind since his tenure at Next and was honed through the Dialogue era, will finally come to fruition early next summer.
From now until the restaurant opens, Beran will develop the winding menu as the space undergoes a verdant transformation. The restaurant’s name will likely be finalized a month before doors open for business, if how things proceeded at Dialogue and Pasjoli provides any indication. In the meantime, Beran is serving a 12-course, $195 tasting menu three nights a week at Pasjoli, with plans to stop in mid-September following the restaurant’s fourth anniversary; the bar at Pasjoli will begin serving a new small bites menu starting this Friday, August 18.