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Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin

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July 7 has been my lucky day for many years now. That’s because it’s my anniversary with Mr. X, a fact that I doubt he’s aware of. But each year I say a secret “Gotcha” on that date because that’s the day I went over to his place and never left. He’s yet to realize what happened to him.

As it turns out, the approaching 7/7/07 is considered by many to be the luckiest day of the century! I know it will be for Mr. X. Not in the smutty way you may be chuckling about right now, but in the fact that it’s a Saturday and he doesn’t have to take me out because I want to stay in all day and watch Live Earth.

For those of you who balk at the idea of spending such a special day (The Luckiest Day, for the rest of you, not my anniversary) at home, I have a dinner suggestion. Cezanne at Le Merigot Hotel and Spa in Santa Monica, is featuring a very special 7-course menu (for $77, of course) that was created for that night only, and I was already lucky enough to sample some of it when I dined there last week with three of my girlfriends. We had most of our meal from the regular dinner menu, and it was all outstanding.

Le Merigot is a lovely beach hotel in Santa Monica, and Cezanne is their upscale restaurant. The ambience is classy and peaceful. This is not the place to go if you need the superfluous “scene” to make your night. But if you want to enjoy your dinner, and the people or person with whom you’re dining, you’ll be all set.


There’s quiet mood music playing, (and I believe live piano Wednesday through Saturday), which doesn’t interfere with your conversation. My friends and I had a great time because we enjoyed each other’s company, as well as the food, and didn’t have to fight loud noise all night, which is always a plus.

The service was stellar. We were greeted by the charming general manager of the hotel, Paul Hortobagyi, and had the opportunity to get meal choice advice from the amiable Chef Desi Szonntagh, both, coincidentally, of Hungarian descent. Our server, Alberto, couldn’t have been more accommodating.

The girls began their meal with an Amuse of Seared Scallops, from the “7-7-07” menu and loved them. They were also all fond of the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartar, which added a nice touch of avocado and caviar on the plate. Two of us were into the Black Truffle Mac & Cheese with Lobster, which can be ordered as a side dish minus the lobster.


The Roasted Pear Salad was exceptional. And beautifully presented, too, I might add, as were all the dishes. The portions were generous, as well, which the ladies also said about the wine pour.

Cezanne specializes in seafood, and my friends especially loved the Chilean Sea Bass, which will be served at the Seven Lucky Courses Dinner, and the King Salmon. I had the Filet Mignon, which is either the best one I’ve ever had or very close to it. And unlike the creepy establishments that charge you extra for the accompanying sauces, each order of meat here comes with the perfect one, as well as your choice of potatoes. Mine was Dauphinoise, and I could have eaten just those and been thrilled.

For sides, we were all in agreement, which might just be a first. Our faves were the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus Gratinee, and unusual Tri Colored Baby Carrots. I’ve always thought carrots came in just orange (like cocktail dresses come in just black.)

At this point, you’re probably thinking that there was no way we could have fit in sweets after all this food. You’d be wrong. I always try to ask what the desserts are before I order the entree. If they sound good enough, I bring part of my main meal home in a doggie bag because I must end with chocolate.

Cezanne’s dessert menu had an interesting selection in the fact that it included Chocolate Soufflé AND Chocolate Lava Cake. Most restaurants have one or the other, and think that they’re inter-changeable, and this is the first place I’ve found that knows that they’re not.

Of course, we indulged in them both, just to prove the difference to ourselves. They were so different from each other that we had a controversy! The other three deemed the winner to be the souffle, but while Jan said it tasted like a cakey brownie, Lucia and Eadie agreed it was light and non-chocolatey.

I just thought it was the best soufflé I’ve ever had, and the accompanying vanilla sauce and homemade whipped cream made it more so. If you’re craving chocolate, though, go with the Lave Cake, which was MY favorite and came with pistachio ice cream, to my delight. Lucia loved that all the desserts were garnished with fresh fruit, presented in different ways.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the room was so elegant, the lighting so alluring, and the seats so comfortable that we could have just fallen asleep right there. Good thing Cezanne is located in a hotel in case you want to do just that!

Cezanne Le Merigot Hotel 1740 Ocean Ave. SM 310-395-9700
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