Fork in the Road reopens with a new chef and Country California-Mediterranean menu

By Jessica Koslow

Owners Tom Elliott (left) and Spoon Singh celebrate the return of Fork in the Road
Photo by Emily Hart Roth

“When you see the Fork in the Road, Take it.”

Those are the words that greet you when you land on the website of Fork in the Road, a popular Santa Monica eatery that reopened in December after a small kitchen fire caused it to close in 2015.

Owners and restaurateurs Spoon Singh and Tom Elliott are very excited to be back in business on Main Street, which Singh declares “is cooler than Abbot Kinney and Rose Avenue.”

These days, Main Street does seem more down-to-earth. It has a bar crawl scene and several high-end eateries.

“Main Street has a great vibe,” says Singh, sitting at the central communal table down the middle of the space. “It’s a real community street, very walkable. I’m excited that there are more restaurants than there used to be, and much better restaurants. This is a restaurant street, a stroll around street.”

Singh and Elliott are no strangers to success. They also own Bank of Venice on Windward Avenue, Venice Alehouse on the boardwalk and Austin Alehouse. Additionally, Singh runs The Larchmont in Hollywood, started Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii 23 years ago, and is in the process of opening a new restaurant in Ojai called Ojai Harvest.

These two know the importance of landing a great location.

“Fork in the Road is a great location with a beautiful open window to look out and look in,” says Singh. “Which side is the fish bowl? We’re not sure.”

“But it’s not just about location,” assures Elliott, who has lived in Los Angeles for 25 years. “It has to be the right concept — right location and right time.”

And it’s about time for Fork in the Road to reopen. After a very successful two-year run, the restaurant had gained a lot of fans. Elliott explains that people passing by have been asking when they would reopen for business.

“We’ve been saying maybe next month for six months,” Singh says with a sigh. The restaurant was closed for about a year.

“It made re-opening all the more sweet,” adds Elliott.

The owners wanted to maintain the same atmosphere, but they’ve brought on a new chef with a new menu.

“I met Chef Marco [Manca] about a year ago. He heard I was opening up again and in search of a chef, and he said ‘Pick me.’ We tested his style of cooking and loved it. He is classic Italian. We don’t want to be an Italian restaurant, but he was open to Country California-Mediterranean,” says Singh.

“He is super creative and has a great attitude, which is hard to find in a chef,” Singh continues. “We let him do his thing. We’ve been working with him for six to eight months before we opened.”

The menu might look similar, but Singh points out that there are a lot of changes — “and the food is better. Feedback from the returning customers has been great.”

Singh, who has lived in L.A. for 14 years — making this “the longest place I’ve ever lived in one spot,” he says — runs down the list of what’s important to him: fresh ingredients, sustainable fish and game, environmentally conscious cuisine and a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.

Luckily, Fork in the Road has it all. Aside from buying fresh ingredients locally — they’ve even found a burrata made locally — the restaurant brings flour and mozzarella over from Chef Manca’s native Italy.

“The flour for the flatbread is really important,” Singh says. “We’re even trying to make a gluten-free flatbread, but it’s tough. They don’t believe in that in Italy.”

Along with a pork belly wood-fired flatbread, roasted Spanish octopus with squid ink cannellini, and duck leg confit, bar manager Becky Newman has curated a wine program, serving unique wine pairings, plus wines by the ounce. They also offer an extensive whiskey selection and handcrafted cocktails, which change seasonally.

“It’s a fine balance to get everything right,” says Singh. “You can’t just shove your concept into a spot. You have to look at each place as a unique individual place and see what it’s longing for, what the community is missing.”

Fork in the Road may just be what Main Street needs right now.

Fork in the Road, 2424 Main St., Santa Monica (310) 450-2244