Greetings from The Misfit
225 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Bike Access: easy
Bike Parking: right out front
Attire: hip, casual
For my inaugural post, I will be reliving my experience at The Misfit, a quite hoppin’ new joint on Arizona between 2nd and 3rd, steps from the Promenade. I feel bad for The Misfit, because it has to fill some big shoes in two ways, before even opening its doors. First, it is replacing Anisette Brasserie, a generally beloved eatery whose closure has me scratching my head (its food was too rich for me to call it my local hangout, but I loved going there to pretend I was in Paris). Second, it’s delivered by the people behind La Grande Orange (aka The Big O aka M Street Kitchen, which is hard to say as quickly), which IS one of my local hangouts and has very recently been bought out (although the menu remains).
The Misfit must have had the same fears, because they kissed my ass as well as those of my companions, and I mean this completely in a positive way (I am a fan of having my ass kissed at places where I’m shelling out money). Case in point: my Oink Partners (aka OPs) and I were mosy-ing around for dessert destinations post-oink fest. I suggested we check out the menu at The Misfit, during the act of which the very French host (who was, in a very un-French way, cordial and cheery) informed us that there was no dessert menu just yet but would we like some chocolate chip cookies to take with us?? Why this sentence would ever need to be framed as a question is beyond me, but I must confess I was immediately willing to give The Misfit my thumbs-up. (Note to dear readers: Normally you should take my opinions as fact itself, but there are a few circumstances under which perhaps you should exercise caution. People/businesses/political causes throwing homemade chocolate chip cookies at me may be one of them.)
After a few weeks of deliberation, however, I decided that the blogosphere deserved due diligence and returned for a proper scrutiny of their offerings. Again, as my Oink Partner (aka O.P.) and I visually dissected the menu, the un-French French host approached and proceeded to give us an almost poetic gospel on the awesomeness of the food. I don’t take much stock in hosts praising their own restaurants, but I did appreciate his sincerity and hospitality. We acquiesced and settled upstairs in a snug table for two flanked by the window AND the open kitchen. Having rested my laurels at other tables in The Misfit’s previous life (and the interior, honestly, is much unchanged), I actually think this may be the best seat in the house (next to sitting outside, which is often too chilly). The view out the small window and the balcony lent a very romantic, European feel.
Okay, okay, let me get to the food already. We sampled the Mexican corn to start. Really, every restaurant should have this item on its menu. It’s simple, cheap to produce, and guaranteed to please anyone who likes corn. As a cornophile, I was sold before it arrived. O.P., however, wisely pointed out that $6 was too much for the 4 small sections of corn on the cob we received. Once I sobered up from my corn-induced buzz, I had to agree, even with the delicious pile of crumbly cheese (Parmesan??) that topped them (and the dispensable chile’d crema that was splashed across the plate). And, note to new couples, don’t order this until married or otherwise forced to stay together.
Next up, the Misfit burger, composed of Paso prime beef, which is “tasty, organic, grass-fed, and really good for you” according to the people who are trying to sell you the burger. As anyone who reads this blog knows and likely agrees, that last part is highly debatable, but, whatever – if I’m gonna consume meat, it better be all those things. And the burger certainly checks at least three of those boxes. We also enjoyed the crunchy toast slices that encase the meat, and one cannot go wrong with cheddar on ground beef. The whole-grain mustard was questionable; I couldn’t decide if I liked it or found it distracting. Mustard and beef make a classic combination for sure, but I think I would go without if given the choice. I already know that I’d prefer the plt burger with la Quercia pancetta, Gruyère (oh Gruyère, how I love thee), and arugula but O.P. prefers things the traditional, American way. Note to others partial to the American way: the burger is small and not cheap compared to most restaurant counterparts but in no way unsatisfying; however, sharing it, as the menu encourages, seems unlikely.
For our third course and final course (trust me on this: no one should eat after this dish), we went with another trendy classic, the baked mac + cheese (plus pancetta cuz we felt feisty). The Misfit should seriously consider a warning label on their menu to discourage the ordering of the burger-mac + cheese combo. Three bites into the piping hot gooey goodness and you will feel guilty and scared, if not short of breath. Unfortunately for our cardiac health, it was also really really good. My usual problem with this food item is that most places (and Kraft) manage to make it creamy, comforting, but oh-so-bland. Here, the addition of green chile takes care of that issue and takes it to almost-perfection (perfection being that it doesn’t make you feel like you should go for a run afterwards). Note to those who care: the “mac” is gluten-free brown rice pasta (I really had no idea, which is a good thing, I think).
Now we will come full-circle, back to the course that brought me to the Misfit’s doors in the first place: DESSERT! Our waitress brings along with the check a plate of strategically, mouth-watering-ly stacked chocolate chip cookies with giant salt chips on top. I don’t mind but also don’t love the salt, but the irregular, faux-rustic edges of these beauties tell you that someone who knows what they are doing is running the kitchen (if that didn’t make any sense to you, just know they are yum yum yum). AND they are FREE! AND I believe you are allowed more than one! I am really diggin’ this free-cookie-with-your-meal trend (Sauce on Hampton is doing it too).
Take Home Message: this place delivers solid food, is conscious of how they source their ingredients (if not your cardiac health but who cares about that!), has a beautiful interior, fosters a gregarious but classy hang-out atmosphere more often found in Europe, and gives you FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!
Note to cheapskates (such as myself): they no longer hand out the cookies to just anyone passing by. I asked Mr. Un-Frenchie himself.