'Summer House' brings California elements
January 10, 2014 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- You wouldn't be wrong in assuming the design team was going for a Southern California vibe; that's because at the new Summer House Santa Monica, Rich Melman and his Lettuce team have brought some of the elements from their California project to the corner of Halsted and Armitage.
"Focusing a lot on vegetables and fish as opposed to your meat and heavier items. To me, that's what Santa Monica, the perfect embodiment; the seafood - you're right next to the ocean," said Chef Jeff Mahin.
No surprise then, to see pristine salmon, grilled over hardwood, then served with simple sides like arugula and grilled fennel. Like most dishes, it's dressed simply with olive oil.
Same goes for the chili-flecked tuna, served on crispy chips with fresh guac and tiny dollops of crème fraiche. But it's not all healthy eating here, which is made fairly obvious at the counter that either welcomes you upon arrival, or tempts you on your way out.
"Everyone's gonna eat healthy and want salad with dressing on the side, and we sell more cookies than anything on the menu. And they're good, they're addictive. I eat one a day," said Mahin.
Feeling guilty? Then try one of Mahin's inspired vegetarian dishes, like the pan-roasted cauliflower, amped up with a jalapeno pesto and garnished with candied lemon, Grana Padano cheese, and of course, a touch of olive oil. He says playing within the seasons is a challenge now, but just wait.
"Come spring, summer, I think that's when this restaurant is really gonna take off to the next level," he said.
Summer House Santa Monica
1954 N. Halsted
iteam, steve dolinsky
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