Ox and Son
Ever realize you were overly ambitious halfway through a meal? Even though when ordering, what the hell, it all sounded entirely reasonable?
We did exactly that at Ox and Son, Chef Francisco's new place of employment on Montana Ave in Santa Monica. Having missed his previous two jobs (Inn of the Seventh Ray and Lukshon), we came during the soft opening to this one to make sure we didn't miss out!
Raw oysters were excellent, then it was on to every single appetizer plus the sticky pig cheeks and then the lemon/strawberry/malt dessert. Yes, a little crazy for just four people...
Uni on toast was excellent, although it could've used a little more uni. A series of two salads were good but very fancy in the American way, a vinegarette on one and a goat cheese on the other were both very strong flavors. Yellowtail crudo was quite unique; I prefer a more simple crudo, but the girls liked this very elaborate one. A radish and fresh ricotta spread for bread was yet another unique dish, and very tasty while not as strong a flavor as the salads.
Poutine with mussels and chorizo was a very strong flavor in a different vein than all the rest, with spicy chorizo and bit of grease rendering your tastebuds wide awake. By comparison, the ham and corn cake was very subtle with the saltiness of the ham and the mild cake, and the venison sausage/egg/fig jam was yet another experience. All three flavors in the venison sausage/egg/fig jam seemed to co-exist independently in your mouth, this time due to the lack of fat to blend things together. Also very interesting.
Beef tartare was again devoured by the girls, by the end, Michelle and Mara decided to hell with the bread, just the tartare please! Chicken croquettes were delicious, even to those of us who find most croquettes boring. The only real disappointment was the sticky pig cheeks atop black rice, which seemed to have more of an Asian selection of spices along with braising (?) that rendered them soft and flaky, as opposed to retaining more of the texture.
Finally, the lemon, strawberry, malt for dessert was ridiculous. The mix of flavors and textures worked perfectly. As good as the rest of the meal was, this was almost good enough to come back to by itself. Sure, the rest was innovative, the interior is well done in marble and wood, but a meal of just a few strong flavors and the dessert might be perfect...