Santa Monica Restaurant Week celebrates a winter farmers market staple

By Jessica Koslow

Upper West is jazzing up fried sweet potato slices with chimichurri, queso panela and pomegranate

Zagat has spoken: Los Angeles was the most exciting food city in America in 2017. And many of the restaurants and chefs putting L.A. at the top of the Zagat list actually work in Santa Monica, which makes the city perfectly suited to host its own Restaurant Week.

Unlike other such culinary programs that focus on meal discounts, Santa Monica Restaurant Week celebrates Santa Monica’s healthy eating scene. The city boasts four weekly farmers markets that are packed three days a week: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. And Santa Monica is, after all, a popular tourist destination where locals can bike ride, roller skate, surf, swim and paddleboard all year round. Eating well is the way
to live here.

Spanning Jan. 8 to 14, Santa Monica Restaurant Week has more than 30 restaurants across eight neighborhoods offering at least one dish that features a special ingredient available this winter at any of the city’s farmers markets. It could have been blood orange, cauliflower, kale, or the tangerine, but this year Santa Monica Travel & Tourism picked the pomegranate: a ruby-red fruit that’s rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants.

Considered a symbol of love in many cultures, American kitchens often overlook the pomegranate for apples or oranges because of the labor-intensive process of picking out hundreds of edible seeds from each fruit. But the crunchy and tart flavor of the seeds can also add a pop to common dishes like guacamole and oatmeal. They not only brighten up a meal, but add little bursts of sweet flavor and crunchy texture.

From casual fare to fancy entrees, participating Santa Monica chefs are having fun infusing pomegranate into their menus.

Upper West Executive Chef Nicholas Shipp likes to spice up his modern American cuisine with global flavors. On the eastern end of Santa Monica, Upper West makes you feel like you’re dining in a Tribeca loft, with 28-foot ceilings and an extended bar with high-tops. Shipp will be serving up fried sweet potato slices with chimichurri, pomegranate and queso panela.

At Locanda del Lago, celebrating its 26th anniversary on Third Street Promenade, you’ll find authentic Northern Italian recipes created by owner West Hooker-Poletti and Executive Chef and butcher Daniele Turchetti. The restaurant resembles a classic lakeside lodge in Northern Italy, complete with portraits of American and Italian celebrities, including Lake Como’s star resident George Clooney. The dish they’re adding for Restaurant Week is Insalata di Puntarelle: grilled tiger shrimp, cuttlefish, chicory, Gaeta olives and pomegranate dressing.

Bareburger, which inhabits the former Omelette Parlor space on Main Street, is throwing The Bomb Chicken Pome into the mix: grilled lemon chicken tenderloin, spinach, apples, raw red onion, aged cheddar, apple cider vinaigrette and pomegranate in a collard green wrap.

What else can you expect to find on local menus? Pomegranate-glazed hangar steak skewers at The Curious Palate; kampachi crudo with a pomegranate yuzu, fresh pomegranate, green onion, citrus segment and garlic crunchies at Herringbone; and Hokkaido scallop (pomegranate seeds, kiwi, yuzu jelly, maldon and sea salt) at Sushi Roku.

The list of restaurants serving pomegranate-themed dishes also includes: BOA Steakhouse, Coast, Dhaba Cuisine of India, Enterprise Fish Company, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, Kye’s, Longitude Bar, Malbec Argentinian Cuisine, Mélisse, Novel Café and Pizzeria, Obica Santa Monica, One Pico, Pinkberry Montana, Scoops Ice Cream & Treats, Tar & Roses, The Brixton, The Lobster, The Veranda Restaurant, FIG Restaurant Santa Monica, Inotheke, Little Ruby, Tiato, Fourth Street Grille at the Doubletree Hotel, Lunetta, Osteria Bigoli, The Albright, Belcampo, Dolcenero Gelato and The Buffalo Club.

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