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