It really is just ridiculous that I haven’t posted this review yet. I’ve been here a few times now and each time its a no brainer. Do you want grilled cheese? Yes. Do you want great wine? Yes. Okay lets go to Esters.
If you have read my review on Cassia you know that I’ve been there a few times too. Cassia has this romantic, ethnic mystique about it. Esters on the other hand (or the other end of the hall) has this breath of clarity. The center bar is aesthetically pleasing to sit at which is rare these days. And the walls are head to toe in wines of all kinds. The place is small, but it is clean, open; no barricades or hallways. Its just very ‘beach house Santa Monica’.
Click here for the best pictures I’ve seen that depict the open air of the interior.
The exterior is one long row of small tables – banquets with coffee tables. The cool Santa Monica air can get rather chilly at night and me likey my heat lamps. The blankets are a nice touch. Service is wonderful, and each waiter we have had has been so knowledgeable of the wines they offer.
The wine bar: this concept is quite unique as they offer wine bottles at cost with an additional corking fee should you choose to consume the bottle inhouse. Prices will vary but the selection is pro-local and wide in palate range.
The food: a wonderland of flavors built into every bite. The menu has a variety of sharing options from salad to grilled cheese to charcuterie.
We have never done the charcuterie board for reasons unbeknownst to me but we have dabbled in quite a few of the sharing items. And when I say ‘we’ I mean three women who love our food, and even more so, love our Prosecco.
The tomato salad is very bold. The sweetness of the Japanese Momotaro tomato against the more tart heirloom tomato is tantalizing, and meshes well with the texture and smooth flavor of the burrata cheese. Its sort of an America twist on the classic Caprese salad. The macaroni and three cheese blend bake is new and totally gooey. Nothing bad to say about it, but still shy in comparison to the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve had in the city. You must add the ham, it just makes it that much more hardy. But oh my, its a must! I know – its silly. This white bread sandwich with slight golden color on each side and cut into three pieces. But… its just so good! And then out of nowhere comes this lamb merguez meatball dish with (as google would put it) a ‘powerhouse’ of spice and flavor from Arab North Africa. Juxtaposed with the yogurt sauce, this may be the most flavorful dish, and perhaps the more unique of the bunch.
I guarantee if you are seeking a laid back venue with truly innovative sharing plates and a heck of a ton of wines, you MUST go to Esters. I promise you wont be disappointed.
Esters is part of the Rustic Canyon group of restaurants which also includes Cassia, Huckleberry Cafe, Milo and Olive, and Sweet Rose Creamery