This is my kind of neighborhood restaurant. At The Curious Palate I found a restaurant/market that really cares about quality and where ingredients come from. They shop and cook like I do at home, but they make things that I probably would never cook at home, so now I can enjoy them without being worried about what’s inside. To start with, the produce is really bought at local farmers markets. I witnessed this when I met up with Elliot, one of the owners, shopping at one of Santa Monica’s farmers markets. Mark, the other owner, is a talented and skilled chef who produces real home cooked meals, with the additional ingredients of creativity and inventiveness while maintaining the integrity of classics that you know and love.
The idea of opening a truly neighborhood restaurant comes as no surprise since the owners, Mark Cannon and Elliot Rubin in fact met as next door neighbors. The Curious Palate is a labor of love, a passion for food and a desire to share with others. They have created a place that is introducing many to a new world of eating locally and for others, like myself, a place where you can come and have real home cooked food without having to ask a questions about everything on the menu.
I wrote some months ago that The Curious Palate is the real thing-not an attempt at greenwashing as we are seeing more and more as businesses try to appear local and “green”. Elliot and Mark are really committed to a sustainable business and this was the case from day one of their renovation. They salvaged materials to reuse in the restaurant and when they had to buy something they sought out the greenest materials they could find, often using other salvaged materials.
Remember, we want to reduce, reuse and (then) recycle. The Curious Palate is a great example of how reuse can be done creatively. The tables came from rafters from a Santa Monica tear down that a friend made for them. The wood was finished and is maintained with 100% organic plant based oil. All interior walls were painted with zero VOC paint made from eggshells. You can read more here about their inspirational remodeling efforts.
This is a great place to come and see what is possible to create while being green and going local. No hardship is involved…in fact you can create a home or business that has lots of character and is so much better for your health and the environment’s.
The products used to create their home cooked meals primarily come from local farmers markets. When I met Elliot at the Santa Monica farmers market on Pico one morning it was obvious that he has relationships with many farmers that he buys from. It was as if he was one of the family when he arrived at a few of the farmer’s stands.
Mark and Elliot’s commitment to local goes beyond just the produce used in their dishes. They also stock a variety of delicious additions for your kitchen pantry all from companies that they have sought out for their commitment to quality and consciously created products. Some of these include Chocovivo, a hand made raw, organic chocolate hand made here in Los Angeles, and the same chocolate is used in The Curious Palate’s baked goods. In addition to Chocovivo you will find Lulas chocolates from Monterey, Eclipse Chocolat from San Diego and Coco-Luxe from San Francisco . …who knew there was so much amazing chocolate coming out of California-Belgium watch out!
They pour Intelligentsia coffee and even the Coca- Cola that they serve is the non-corn syrup variety, which comes from Mexico. They have made a commitment to not use products that contain corn syrup for all of the reasons that our agricultural system needs to be changed…subsidies, the amount of energy expended to produce it, the use of pesticides and genetically modified seed and the misuse of good farmland to over produce an unnecessary commodity. When we all make such commitments to avoid products that make no sense in the big picture, as well as on a local level, we will see more change.
The cheese selection is extensive for such a small market, and they stock locally produced as well as international cheeses that you can take home. The mozzarella is made in nearby Hawthorne by two Italians that used to make cheese 100 kilometers outside of Napoli…so this is the real thing. They also carry Andante cheese from Petaluma, don’t forget to notice that all of the names of the cheeses from Andante, as well as the company name, relate to music. Part of the philosophy at The Curious Palate is to actively seek out artisan food producers. Some of the eggs used in the kitchen are from a local farm that raises the chickens in movable coops in their orchard.
The water is triple filtered if it is used on anything that touches either food or a customers mouth…these guys are serious about what they are doing. It reminds me of when I had my cafe in Sedona, I used to say that I wouldn’t serve anything unless I would eat it and I was pretty serious about sticking to organic or as close to it as possible.
Beyond the front doors, they continue to operate sustainably. All bottles are recycled and all biodegradable material is picked up for composting, which is about 70% of all of their trash, what a savings of material going into a landfill! With composting, garbage like this is no longer ‘trash’ but part of a cycle to create better soil. This type of a two- trash system, where whatever can be composted actually is, is so important in the food service industry since they create so much waste. In San Francisco restaurants have been having their waste composted for years and now it has been written into law that all homes and businesses must separate trash for composting. Hopefully this will soon be the norm across the country, and globally.
All equipment is consciously maintained to reduce electrical usage and they actually pay attention to when lights really need to be on and when they can be turned off. They even try to hire locally. You will find art on the walls, which changes regularly, and they don’t take any commission to support the local artists who show their work
Now as far as what they are cooking up…the produce is from local farms that they have actually visited so they know the farmers and how things are grown. They make their own pickles, going through over 60 pounds every week or so, and they also make their own jam. If you are taking food home they are happy to accommodate you if you want to bring in your own to-go containers or even your own baking containers for reheating-what a great idea. As of July 1st in Seattle single use packaging that is not compostable or recyclable has been banned. We are now seeing more and more cities regulate this to divert materials going into landfills. What a great step Seattle has taken, just imagine from fast food places alone how much trash will now be recycled or composted.
The Curious Palate is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here are a few dishes that sound amazing to me and they also have daily specials. I have only tried a few things, the macaroni and cheese is amazing, but plan to keep revisiting whenever I am in L.A to try something new.
The menu is basically sandwiches, salads, quiche and sides…but none are ordinary. I am not a big meat eater and won’t eat any factory farmed meat, but I have to admit the sandwiches here could have me eating meat much more often.
The miso short rib wrap made from pulled beef short ribs sounds amazing. It is topped with shredded cabbage, red onion, and Japanese pickles with miso dressing in a tortilla. Or how about the organic Jidori chicken breast, topped with Grand Cru Gruyère cheese from Roth Käse, roasted red peppers, cilantro, scallions and a chipotle mayo in a flour tortilla.
They also have a grilled cheese sandwich made with three kinds of cheese on whole wheat bread. Taking about not your ordinary sandwich I think next time I have to try the olive oil poached albacore tuna salad sandwich, served with kale and house preserved lemons on sourdough.
If you are vegetarian or vegan there is still plenty for you like the grilled zucchini sandwich with arugula pesto and Gruyère cheese (no problem to hold the cheese for vegans) panini-grilled on whole wheat bread and they have a veggie panini sandwich.
Beyond sandwiches they have 4 kinds of quiche, macaroni and cheese, made with Roth Käse Gruyère grand cru, goat cheese, blue paradise and sharp cheddar.
The Curious salad is made with baby greens, Christmas lima beans, feta, olives, roasted peppers, house marinated beets and baby artichokes with Elliot’s famous balsamic vinaigrette and there are many others that sound delicious.
Some of the sides are: beluga lentils and corn, spinach sauteed with pine nuts and garlic and a beautiful looking quinoa with currants celery and scallions in a curry vinaigrette
Breakfast includes homemade granola, steel cut oatmeal, a breakfast burrito and a variety of great sounding omelets. They also serve french toast with organic maple syrup. If you want to see more here is the menu. You can even order online here or from their web site. So if you are looking for a great tasting home cooked meal, where you know there is integrity from start to finish this is your place.
The Curious Palate is located at
12034 Venice Blvd in Mar Vista between Grand View and Inglewood Blvds
Their hours are:
Breakfast is served until 10:30 weekday and 11:30 weekends, and after breakfast the lunch/dinner menu is available.