Michael's Santa Monica

New re-incarnation under Miles Thompson running the kitchen.
He was doing interesting things at Allumette, but has anyone tried his work at Michael’s?

The Weekly reviewed it:

Had a Christmas party there.

Enjoyed everything (duck breast and confit, yams, quail), except the cocktails really lacked oomph.

Went to Michael’s Friday night.
Despite not participating in DineLA, the place was packed.
The restaurant’s ambiance and the patio are very enjoyable.
I could not take photos as the light was too dark, and I was not analyzing the details of the dishes, rather trying to get the whole impression of each dish.
We had (in this order):
Vergnon, Conversation, Champagne, Blancs de Blancs (brought with us, $25 corkage, $45 Champagne, excellent entry level Champagne, perhaps not as mineral as I expected)
Dungeness crab chawanmishi - flavors of uni, crab, and sesame combined with a very silky custard. This was wonderful, something I would expect from N/Naka or Yamakase.
Burrata - very delicate version of burrata accented with smoky/salty trout roe. Another hit!
Potatoes a la plancha - parmigiano reggiano and bonito flaces,delicious!
Octopus- We order octopus often, here at home, or in Europe. This may have been either the best or 2nd best octopus preparation I ever had. The only competitor would be octopus dish we had in some blue collar tapas place in Madrid. The octopus texture was perfectly tender and sauce really added another dimension to the whole dish. We ordered another one of these, so that was a hit too.
Domaine Merlin-Cherrier, Sancerre 2015 $62 at the restaurant ( We consume our fair share of Sancerre, but I have tried this or seen it sold around LA. Probably ~$25-30 bottle retail, but hard to find, and I am not sure it is worth the search. It is worth noting that it is sold at the restaurant by the glass, and is very crisp, aromatic, and mineral wine that would be a good accompaniment to the dishes above).
Spatzie - rabbit meatballs, very distinct rabbit flavor, but delicate preparation, we liked it quite a bit.
2010 blankiet estate proprietary red paradise hills vineyard (we brought this one, $25 corkage again, $185 direct from the winery in 2013, beautiful and balanced, some dark fruit/cassis notes, velvety tannins, Bordeaux style Napa wine, not sure I would pay $185 again, I don’t care that Parker gave it 97 points)
White pumpkin agnolotti - perfectly cooked, great flavor, we had 2 orders.
Duck breast - Good flavor, but I am not sure if it was overcooked or what?
Denver steak - Steak was decent, but flavor/texture/juiciness fall far short of what I would expect given the quality of our prior dishes.
Hazelnut chocolate ganache - delicate nutty relatively light in texture.
Roasted Barley pot-de-creme - I did not care for this dish. I had expected it to be denser and come as pot de creme but it came on a plate, we ate it anyway, but no-one was impressed.
Total came out to $535 for everything not including the 2 bottles we brought. For five people we had just about the right amount of food. The service was far from perfect though. Our server was very nice, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about the dishes. Since I reviewed the menu online beforehand, I pretty much knew what I wanted to order. I was a bit concerned with their motto of bringing the dishes as they saw fit, and I certainly did not want to end up with Crab Chawanmushi between the agnolotti and the steak. I did not give her a specific order of the dishes, but rather general direction, and I think she did a good job coursing the dinner for us. However, more often than not, the dishes have been brought by some random other service staff who sometimes just dumped it on the table, mumbling the name and quickly running away. When we ordered Sancerre, it took forever for it to arrive, and our Blankiet was breathing in a decanter but they did not bring it in a timely fashion and not until I asked for it so our main course was just sitting there for sometime until we got the wine and the glassware. What made it more annoying that Michael himself was walking around all night but he seemed more interested in talking to diners rather than focusing on making sure the service run smoothly. I can not say that they were understaffed, as the were some servers just standing by idly while other were running mad.
Overall, it was an enjoyable dinner, earlier courses were better than later courses, and we did not try any cocktails. The chef is very very talented, and some dishes were amazing. I am certainly planning to come back, but perhaps will stay away from larger format main courses. I also don’t know if restaurant of this size being so packed on a friday night affected the quality a bit. In a perfect world, I would love to have Miles Thompson prepare omakase style dinner with wine pairings in a smaller venue.