Restaurant Reviews

Tar & Roses

March 18, 2015

Tar & Roses has been on my “to-try” list for a while and I finally made it out there.

The Shut-Up-and-Give-it-to-Me-Quick Version:

On the fence. (between Good not great and Winner).
Some dishes were great and very memorable, but the experience as a whole sort of fell flat.

The I-Like-to-be-Wrapped-Up-in-All-the-Details Version:

I made a reservation about a month in advance (reservations are pretty hard to come by last minute so I would definitely recommend you make one ahead of time) and were seated right as we walked in. The layout is fine (nothing special), the décor is simple with wood finishing and the long restaurant makes it feel less cozy. The service was my biggest gripe, I couldn’t hear the waitress and she wasn’t very nice. A huge tip, which I wasn’t informed of when I made the reservation a month before (and we were all pretty bummed about),… they have a select few items which must be ordered a week in advance. They all sounded very good, but since we didn’t have an order in they couldn’t serve it to us. It would’ve been nice to have that information at the time of booking since I was asked if it was my first time dining with them.

Hours
Mon – Sat 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Sun   5:30 pm – 9:30 p.m.

What we ate:

  • Bone marrow ($12)
  • Singaporean chili crab cake ($15)
  • Oxtail dumplings ($10)
  • Gnocchi ($12)
  • Candied sweet potato ($9)
  • Whole fried snapper ($58)
  • Dry aged rib eye ($68)
  • Hanger steak ($28)
  • Strawberry ricotta crostata ($9)

Thoughts?

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape, bone marrow

The bone marrow was good, but the red onion marmalade overshadowed the flavor. I also think that the amount of bone marrow in the dish was very little in comparison to other restaurants (Mastro’s, for example).

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

The Singaporean chili crab cakes were good, I was satisfied with a bite or two, they were a bit on the fishy side, but I really enjoyed the chili sauce.

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

The oxtail dumplings were great, definitely one of my favorites. The plate only comes with four so if you are more than two people I would definitely suggest ordering multiple. The taste was subtle, but very flavorful.

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape, gnocchi

The gnocchi was good, a little too mushy for my taste, but the combination of flavors (cheese and brussel sprout leaves) were very good.

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

I don’t normally love sweet potatoes, but the addition of gingered aioli gave it an extra element of flavor. I also really liked that they were crispy on the outside and slightly sweet.

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

The whole fried snapper was the other amazing dish (one I would definitely order again). The presentation was great. They literally serve you the entire fried snapper standing on a plate with a side of spicy dipping sauce and soba noodles. The fish is cut so that the meat is easily picked apart (just take 2 fingers and attack). Be sure to use the sauce because it makes the entire dish. The fish is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, I really enjoyed this! I wasn’t too trhilled about the noodles, I’m not a huge fan of cold noodles and these were pretty plain in flavor, the sauce helped, but I decided to stick to the fish. This is a dish that cannot be missed!

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

The hanger steak was good I could’ve done without the potato and bacon gratin. The texture was off and it just didn’t complement the dish the way I would’ve liked. The roasted tomato, however, was delicious!

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

The rib eye was very good quality and it was cooked well. I loved the salad on the ribeye, I mean give me arugula and I’m sure to be happy. This was also delicious!

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

Saving the best for last, the dessert was amazing! We actually ordered another one the second we tried (and devoured) the first one. The crostata was crispy not hard, the strawberries were ripe and perfect and the honey comb ice cream complemented everything so well!

Tar & Roses, Crab cake, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, restaurant reviews, Eat and Escape

I thought it was worth showing the bill because it is presented in a paper sleeve stamped with “the damage”. It’s funny and I like when restaurants pay attention to the details. Plus, there is nothing more boring that getting your bill in that out-dated padded booklet (with the plastic credit card holders notoriously ripped).

While I’m not rushing to go back, I would return again and only order a few of the better dishes. I really wanted to like this place, but for some reason I didn’t come out thinking “wow”. If I’m going to spend the money (and consume the calories), I want “wow” in every dish and I can’t say that Tar & Roses delivered.

You Might Also Like