NOT YOUR AVERAGE NEIGHBORHOOD AMERICAN BISTRO
I really have to hand it to the folks at Truxton’s because they absolutely raising the bar when it comes to standard neighborhood American bistro fare. The two current Truxton locations in Westchester and Santa Monica are neighborhood favorites, beloved for their reinvention of classic dishes at affordable prices. Even indie rappers like Dom Kennedy gives them shout outs in his songs.
A great choice of a quick bite, a good drink or a hearty meal, the powers that be at Truxton’s—owners Tim Foley and John Kaufman—have quite the track record having been involved with successful restaurants such as Toscana, and Rosti Chicken. Executive Chef Greg Schroeppel started his career more than 20 years ago at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, and included working with Puck as opening chef at Chinois on Main, and Granita in Malibu.
And now, wine guru Lou Moench of Father's Office fame has gotten involved by creating a bottle free progressive cask wine program that places a greater emphasis on individual palate preference by stripping away branding and labels and delivering higher value to consumers with no waste. You won’t find a single wine bottle at the Santa Monica restaurant. Instead, they rotate 16 stainless steel casks.
“We’re going out and sourcing wines that you would normally pay $30 to $80 a bottle for,” says Foley. “Most wines are up-charged 100% when you add in the distribution, marketing, and bottling costs. We’ve taken those three things out.”
“The last glass out of that cask is going to taste as fresh and vibrant as the first glass,” explains Moench. “No oxygen will ever touch it.”
“We’re the local neighborhood bistro,” Foley explains. “Part of a great dining experience is sitting around a table with family and friends and sharing a great meal with great conversation, with a great wine that’s paired with it. We expect to be that for Santa Monica.”
During our recent visit to the new Santa Monica location, we were immediately drawn to the cherry wood bar, high open ceiling, dark wooden tables and chairs, and exposed brick walls, which help give this neighborhood bistro a cozy and welcoming vibe.
We started with a very nice glass of 2012 Bianchetta Trevigniana, a rare white grape wine from northern Italy that was originally planted by mistake. This lovely Paso Robles white wine pairs wonderfully with the Ancho Honey Glazed Shrimp where crispy shrimp are tossed in a sweet honey ancho chili glaze. This flavorful starter is served with a Spicy Wonton Pepita Slaw.
A terrific oversized dish to split is the 11-Spiced Brisket Taco Salad. Truxton’s signature beef brisket is tossed with shredded lettuce, black beans, poblano corn salsa, cheddar and cotija cheese, tortilla strips, pico de gallo, and Spicy 1001 Dressing; served over a crispy wheat tortilla. This is a full meal if you to choose to eat this bad boy by itself. And it too goes swimmingly with the aforementioned Bianchetta Trevigniana.
If you’re still looking for a great dish that pairs spot-on with white wine—consider the Louisiana Blackened Shrimp Pizza, made with Applewood smoked ham, red onion, blackened shrimp, mozzarella blend, habanero and pineapple relish and cilantro. This pie is loaded with taste. It’s good sized so it’s perfect to share, otherwise plan on taking a few slices back home with you.
Another favorite is the Kicked Up Mac & Cheese made with jumbo elbow macaroni in a creamy sauce made with a blend of five cheeses, Applewood bacon and roasted tomatoes topped with crispy onions. Talk about hearty comfort food, this dish is no joke. Maybe that’s because food is no laughing matter at Truxton’s and thank goodness for that!
Time to switch to red wine? You can’t go wrong with the wonderful and hard-to-find 2011 Organic Merlot from Mendocino County, which has undertones of currant and tobacco but is accentuated by a blackberry finish. It pairs well with The Gilly Burger, prepared with caramelized onions, Applewood smoked bacon, tomato, shredded lettuce, Tillamook cheddar cheese, and topped with crispy onions and Spicy 1001 Dressing. This fine and meaty burger is the real deal.
For cocktail lovers, I recommend the Dark & Stormy made with Atlantico Reserva Rum with lime and Fever-Tree ginger beer served with a sugared ginger rim. It’s nice, refreshing and not overpoweringly gingery.
Likewise, the Juniper Breeze, mixed with Hendricks Gin, Chase Elderflower and lime, served on the rocks with a rosemary salted rim and a rosemary sprig is a cool cocktail that goes down easy.
Dessert at Truxton’s also consists of generous portions and the Key Lime Cheesecake, made with house-made cheesecake mixed with real Key Lime juice and white chocolate with a Macadamia Graham Cracker crust, topped with whipped cream and Macadamia nut brittle, is a favorite. I also have to single out the Mexican Carnival Sundae—two scoops of vanilla ice cream, caramel filled churros, cinnamon sugar and caramel sauce.
Truxton’s is located at 1329 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica and 8611 Truxton Avenue in Westchester
By: Jose Martinez.
Food Photography By: Andrea Bricco
Location & Interior Photography By: Jane Shalakhova