Ashland Hill in Santa Monica

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On the cutest street in Santa Monica sits a narrow restaurant called Ashland Hill. I went to check it out on a rainy Wednesday night. We were offered seating in the intimate bar inside or on the covered back patio; I opted for the patio. The sound of the rain pattering on the cover mixed with laughter and the occasional dog bark made for a truly cozy atmosphere. (Bonus: friendly dogs are allowed on the patio!) Even though we could still see and hear the rain, the backyard was kept warm and bright. Ashland Hill
2807 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
https://www.ashlandhill.com/

Ashland Hill offers a number of beverage options, but they’re known for their gin and tonic bar. You can choose your own combination from a list of gins around the world and tonics including varieties such as Yuzu, Mediterranean, and Grapefruit. OR you can try one of their Gin and Tonic cocktails as I opted for. The first cocktail up was the Silky Smooth which featured Tru Organic Gin, East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic, Orange Bitters, Aperol, Lime juice, and Kumquats. It tasted like the best grown up candy, the drink’s sweetness being tamed by the bitter of the grapefruit and both brought together by the Aperol.

Christina and the Silky Smooth cocktail.

The second cocktail up was The Wildflower; a concoction of Cutler’s Gin, Fevertree Elderflower Tonic, Grapefruit bitters, and bell pepper juice. The drink was herbal and vegetal. The bell pepper juice gave it a flavor reminiscent of summer gardens. Our server Josh also recommended The Big Lou for diners who might not like big Juniper-y gins but still want to try one of the gin cocktails.

The Wildflower

For dinner we started with the Burrata which was accompanied by jalapeno pea mash, caramelized onion, sugar snap peas, pea leaves, and toasted sourdough. Holy peas Batman! The pea mash was sweet and fresh, although I would have enjoyed a little more kick from the jalapenos. The caramelized onion paired so well with the burrata, I wondered why I had never had this combo before? You might need to get extra bread with this dish; it is a very hearty serving, and the bread went quickly!

Next up was the Crispy Cauliflower and Ceviche. The cauliflower came served with salmoriglio (an Italian dressing made with lemon, garlic, olive oil, and herbs), Parmesan, saffron aioli, pickled vegetables, and espelette (a Basque chili). The crispy texture was perfect, and the drizzle of sauces was just enough to flavor the dish without being overwhelming. I also really enjoyed the pickled veggies, they gave a crisp, vinegary contrast.

The Ceviche was made of marinated seafood, jalapeno, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and crispy tortillas. I loved the crispy tortillas! They were thick, warm, and salty. The ceviche itself was different; the marinade was creamier than what I’ve had before maybe because of the avocado. Again I would have enjoyed a little more kick from the jalapeno!

For a larger plate, we had the Chicken Shawarma, a wrap stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, tahini and served with parmesan fries and cucumber yogurt. I could eat this every day; the lavash wrap was perfectly thin, and crispy on the outside and the chicken was super flavorful. I’m also a sucker for a good French fry and those hit the spot! They also offer this dish with falafel for the vegetarians in your party.

Our final dish was their Market Blueberry Crumble, an oat crumble, whipped white chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. The oat crumble was delicious, and the ice cream they serve is fantastic. The dish comes with a heaping serving of blueberries, almost like a granola cobbler. The piece de resistance, however, was the whipped white chocolate, how do you make that and can I get a gallon of it?!

With the fantastic atmosphere and tasty food, Ashland Hill could be an excellent choice for many outings. Take your dog or your date and stroll the cute Santa Monica street post-dinner. Dining with a picky group? Ashland Hill’s menu denotes which items are gluten free, and they also have a lot of vegetarian options. It would be the ideal restaurant for a mixed group or family since the menu caters to all; the unadventurous will feel safe with a burger or fish and chips while the foodie in your group might like to try the Grilled Octopus or Shishito Mac & Cheese. If you’re all on the same page, I recommend sharing a bunch of plates, everything I tried shared well. The prices are fantastic especially considering the generous portions and quality and the service was prompt and gracious, what more could you want?

Christina

Growing up Italian I am predisposed to enjoy good food and wine. In fact I would probably be excommunicated from the family if I stopped eating any major food group (or just mercilessly ridiculed). Being raised on wine and loud family gatherings it is no surprise I ended up behind a bar. I’ve been bartending for almost 9 years now with my focus being on craft and classic cocktails. I'm honored to be a two time regional finalist for the prestigious Diageo World Class bartending competition and a partner in The Traveling Speakeasy; a company focused on providing cocktails for private events and bar consultations.I’m continually futzing around with new recipes and techniques at home and at work, I look forward to sharing with you my original recipes and favorite bars.

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