I wish I could tell you that Art’s Table was my latest great find, but in slightly over a year the petite Santa Monica restaurant already qualifies as a popular Montana Avenue fixture.
It opened ambitiously, billing itself a neighborhood wine bar but really, it has blossomed into something much, much more. (When, for instance have you ever seen gourmet granola on a wine bar menu?)
After stylishly retrofitting the former Caribbean-inspired Babalu, Art’s took steps to keep 27-yearold café’s clientele in the fold with morning-to-late-night hours and breakfast served until 4 p.m. Now it’s the neighborhood’s satisfy-your-cravings-at-any-time-of-day stalwart.
What could be more soul saving after an all-night script meeting than digging into braised short rib breakfast hash or luscious lobster benedict sheathed in silky, lemony hollandaise?
The local Silicone Beach crowd often packs the place after 9 p.m. whether they’re in the mood just to nibble on parsnip-potato latkes dipped in crème fraiche with an aromatic viognier or to indulge in a full-on dinner.
Earlier in the evening you’ll see young families populating the row of tables planted outside. Popular sandwiches with kids are the juicy meatball-parmesan baguette or Art’s novel approach to the Cubano: a pressed slow-roasted pork belly sandwich served alongside a melted gruyere fondue dipping sauce and homemade potato chips.
Probably the biggest draw for neighborhood regulars is the way chef and co-owner Mark Mittleman’s menu walks the line between indulgent and healthy. Well-made veggie inventions are sprinkled throughout, either as sides or as a garnish for the mains. And Mittleman’s wide-ranging experience as a restaurant consult from Mexican and Mediterranean places to the health-oriented Inn of the Seventh Ray, drive the menu’s kaleidoscopic diversity. His experience as sous chef at vaunted spots like the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo lounge are, no doubt, the reason Art’s food is so finessed. And you have to love a guy who names his restaurant consulting business FNA (Fork n’ Awesome).
Art’s keeps its charitable vision close to home. Every Father’s Day and Labor Day weekend twenty percent of the day’s revenue goes to the Art Verge Study Abroad Scholarship Fund which helps send Santa Monica City College students to “experience the life and culture of other nations”. The fund is a family affair having been established by Art’s co-owners Mark and Lani Verge in honor of Mark’s father, Art Verge (the restaurant’s namesake) who was an SMC California and Latin American history professor.
FIND ART’S AT: 1002 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 90403