Wally's Wine & Spirits [Santa Monica]: A Pictorial Essay


#1

Well, Wally’s Wine & Spirits debuted their newest location this weekend, and WOW! It was love at first bite.

First, the build-out is absolutely stunning. Occupying the former Hennessy + Ingalls bookstore space close to the shore, near 2nd St. & Wilshire, Wally’s Santa Monica features high ceilings, full wine racks, a full cheese store, robata bar (yes, robata bar!), pastry bar, AND full restaurant (with an upstairs private banquet area to boot). Appealing use of wood, concrete and marble beckon patrons to linger a bit longer - We certainly did (and ended up buying more bottles of wine than we had anticipated; well-played). The decor themes here are similar to those of Wally’s store in Beverly Hills, but somehow the vibe in Santa Monica feels definitely more of a toney beach scene…

The vast selection of wines and spirits here is overwhelmingly impressive. It wasn’t difficult to flag down any one of the many friendly and helpful wine experts on staff roaming the store to help us whenever we had questions.

And now, onto the food!

Chef David Feau and his team are already kicking into high gear on this, the first weekend of business.

Cheese & Charcuterie Plate: With the famed (and properly sliced) 5J jamon iberico de bellota in the starring role, this lovely presentation was a wonderful way to kick things off! The 5J (Cinco Jotas) brand is very well-regarded in Spain; I am glad it’s becoming more well-known in the States as well.

Purple & Blue Salad (roasted beets, blueberries, grapes, red cabbage, pickled cucumber, buffalo milk blue cheese, pistachio, balsamic & olive oil): Though initially it sounds like this dish could have been too complex for its own good, in actuality the salad was beautiful and delicious.

Uni Toast (fresh Santa Barbara uni, lemon-smoked salmon spread, dark rye bread, caviar, shredded nasturtium): Fabulous.

Green Lentils du Puy (ragout, sweet peas, truffle butter): Unexpected BITE OF THE WEEKEND! Incredible textures and contrasts flow from this vegetarian dish. Blew my palate away.

Truffle Pizza (porcini truffle puree, buffalo mozzarella, arugula): More of a flatbread in spirit than pizza, this proved to be a wonderful vehicle for hacking. Unanimously, our party chose to hack this flatbread with…

More 5J jamon iberico de bellota!!! Yowza…

… and now, a Wally’s classic dish:

Roasted Heritage Gallus Bone-In Whole Chicken (smashed fingerling potatoes, broccolini, sliced truffle, albufera sauce, poulet au jus): THIS. This is what the NoMad chicken should have been. This sets the benchmark for Westside roast chicken. It is the chicken dish we all would like to make for our families at home. Our knowledgeable server recommended that we try this chicken, and I have to give credit where credit is due!

I cannot say enough good things about this entree. All the usual superlatives apply here: Juicy, tender, flavorful, comforting and aromatic. But at the bottom of this dish is a superb surprise medley of mushrooms, perfectly soft skin-on potatoes, and broccolini which has soaked up much of that sumptuous chicken stock. Chiming in at $100 per order, this chicken is certainly not the cheapest item on the menu, but its format is sufficiently large enough to feed 3 to 4 adults (and 2 kids!) to extreme satisfaction. Order this!

Dessert time!!!

Orange Cappuccino Cake (Roman-style orange cake, coffee-infused cream, meringue)… The portion was a bit small for the price tag, but nonetheless every bite was sublime.

Latte: Well-pulled.

Chocolate Board (Assorted dark & milk chocolates, served with fruits and nuts): A nice way to round out a splendid opening meal at Wally’s Santa Monica!

Brand new (touchless flush) facilities…

Service at Wally’s is usually professional and cordial, as indeed was the case on our visit this time. Admittedly, responsiveness became a bit slower once the throngs of customers descended after 7PM, but that is to be expected to a certain degree, with the chaos of the opening weekend and what not…

Oh, I almost forgot: The joint opens from 10AM 'til 2AM, seven days a week!!! Wally’s Wine & Spirits combines the best of wine shopping with high-end dining, all in an inviting edifice. It is an ideal place to while away an afternoon or evening (or late night), for even without its vast arrays of wines, cocktails and spirits, the food alone here is worthy of exploration. In addition, its location, where the city meets the sea, cannot be beat.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Wally’s Wine & Spirits
214 Wilshire Bl.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
424.293.5500
website


#2

Wow!! I work right next door basically, this is very exciting


#3

Fan-fucking-tastic. Glad to hear that a lentils dish and a chicken dish are at the forefront! Corton Charlemagne, Montrachet, and some Tesseron by the glass…you don’t see that everyday. Will visit this next trip.


#4

Wally’s is definitely a place I love but don’t go often enough.


#5

Just wow! I rarely have any desire to move to SoCal but this could be a strong argument. I can’t imagine anything like this anywhere else in the US. Thanks.


#6

So happy it’s finally open! Thank you for the fab report :slight_smile:

Those croissants look amazing, I think I’ll wander over there this morning for one with a latte.


#7

This is super impressive. The next time I spend time on the Westside of the world, I need to make sure that I allot time for a visit here. Thanks for sharing!


#8

I had the purple and blue salad at Wally’s in BH recently and loved it. Also thought it might have one or two ingredients too many, but it all works. And my friend who’s allergic to cow’s milk was thrilled that it’s made with buffalo milk blue cheese.


#9

Thank you for this report on Wally’s new digs. You make everything sound tempting.

I checked out the website. I am saddened to see bluefin tuna on the menu. I will not patronize a restaurant that serves threatened/endangered species.

http://www.seafoodwatch.org/seafood-recommendations/groups/tuna?q=bluefin%20tuna&t=bluefin%20tuna&type=bluefin


#10

Thanks for pointing that out. These are important buying decisions.


#11

Perhaps send a note to the restaurant?


#12

Thank you for the suggestion. I emailed Wally’s via the contact us section of their website.


#13

Great! It sounds like a wonderful place with tons of choices. Seems easy enough to delete the bluefin. And if they don’t, well, that tells ya plenty. I’m really glad to see comments like yours on this site.


#14

I know of the wine shop, but didn’t know how grand this place was! Awesome.

The prices are great too by the bottle for these!!

Jean Foillard Morgon Corelette 2014 (especially for a Beaujolais Cru with a little age in it)
Biondi Santi 2010 Brunello Di Montalcino
Valdicava Madonna del Piano Riserva 2010

If only they added some killer sake to the lineup…


#15

I’d highly recommend you check out Wally’s sake selection in person…


#16

Looks amazing. I think the food at Wally’s Beverly Hills is beyond mediocre, but this looks like a different kettle of fish.

Plus, I’m on a quest to find the perfect roast chicken. I had roast chicken last night at Le Coq Rico in NYC and while it was pretty good, the one at Wally’s looks better. Do you know how long the chicken was aged and where it is from? Le Coq Rico has a big spiel on their menu about the provenance of all their chickens, how long aged, etc.


#17

A noble quest.

I’m hoping for some place in LA to serve poulet au demi deuil with something like a sunchoke/celeriac veloute, endives and cheeses, and nice Lafon 1er Meursault or Condrieu La Doriane.


#18

Yah same, @beefnoguy.

Thanks again @J_L for the great report. In my ignorance, I always thought “Wally’s Wine & Spirits” was a wine shop and liquor shop, carrying some food items. After all, a few of my friends over the years always tell me they’ll “stop in at Wally’s and pick up a bottle” for a party we’re going to, or when they come over.

I never realized it was a full restaurant! :sweat_smile: And this new Westside location sound perfect, can’t wait to stop by. :slight_smile:


#19

I had the honor of dining there last night with @J_L and I can attest to that roast chicken being quite possibly the best whole bird I’ve had in a long while. There were truffle shavings on top of the bird, and some found their way between the pieces and then at the bottom of pan, swimming in the bird’s juices along with the smashed potatoes and mushrooms. So imagine the gratification of not only having a perfectly juicy and flavorful chicken piece, but then following that bite up with a potato/truffle/chicken-juice mashup. Total bliss. We paired our dinner with a bottle of Gambino Gold Prosecco – light and crisp and a perfect complement to the whole meal. And the entire venue is stunning – no expense spared with materials and I liked the layout with a casual room upfront, and a more upscale setup in the back between the cheese bar and open kitchen, all of which is surrounded by walls of wines :blush:.


#20

Does the stock at the shop (or the restaurant) measure up far more to what’s available on their website? Last I checked the website selection was pretty bare, although I have seen some pretty crazy selections before but they were limited and were gone in a jiffy. So which location in person do you recommend I go for the sake? Thanks!