One Pico at Shutters on the Beach: Escaping LA
by Alice Greczyn
“Have you been to Shutters?” my date asked me, spur of the moment after finding out our restaurant of choice had been unexpectedly closed. Hunger crazed, I shook my head. “Oh,” he smiled, “you’re going to love this place!”
Once I stepped inside the fire-lit lobby, I was smitten. Hotel guests sipped champagne and nibbled on cheese, a happy hour of sorts. We walked through the lobby and up the stairs to the restaurant, One Pico. I was dazzled, hoping desperately there would be seating available for us. Fortunately there was. Walking to our table, I took in the child-size row boats that hung from the ceiling, and the sand in the glass hurricane vases cradling candles that cast a golden flicker throughout the space. The walls seemed to be entirely windows, and huge glass lanterns hung from the ceiling.
As my date and I sat in the elegant blue chairs, I indulged in the wonderful simplicity of crusty French bread and butter. It struck me that not many restaurants offer this complimentary appetizer anymore. Most have been reduced to dry breadsticks, or nothing at all, hoping to make more money from guests ordering starters off the menu. The occasional fine Italian establishment might serve warm bread, but often with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I adore olive oil, but the nostalgia and flavor of creamy butter on white bread is, as I stated, simply wonderful. Especially while watching the sun set, painting the clouds colors of sherbet above the horizon. The black outline of the palm trees swayed against the sky.
Braised beef ravioli is not something I would typically order at a seafood restaurant, but for some reason sounded just the ticket. I like the word “braised”. It makes me think slow-simmered and seasoned, strings of beef stuck together in their juices and wrapped in the delicate dough of ravioli. They were indeed savory and delicate. The Truffled Cavatelli Gratin, a fancy version of macaroni and cheese, had tiny mushrooms floating throughout, centering me with their earthy flavor, swimming in my mouth alongside bites of cheddar and the soft texture of split noodles.
Dessert was miniature doughnuts, served with cold vanilla custard. I fought with my date over who got to have the last finger-swoop of custard from the bowl, heavily peppered with clumps of cinnamon-sugar that had fallen off the doughnuts when dunked. We had very carefully tried to be equals in this battle over dessert, so I’d sliced the fifth doughnut ball in half, and we each took a turn dipping the bite sized fluffs into a thick, creamy heaven. I admit, I dipped deeper than he did, but justified it because hadn’t he said something about watching his figure for a shirtless scene coming up? Only in LA…
Shutters Hotel has a gift shop, which we perused through while digesting our dinner. Amidst plush towels and buttercream-scented body souflees, I found a tall book with a glossy cover over it, that read “The Summertime Anytime Cookbook”. What luck! It had the recipes from One Pico inside it, by author and executive chef Dana Slatkin. It was my favorite kind of cookbook, full of simple, concise recipes with almost all of them printed next to a photograph of the finished outcome. I like seeing what a dish is supposed to look like before I attempt making it, and photographs of food are always inspiring to flip through when trying to decide what to make for a dinner party. I had to have it, and my date knew that when he saw me smiling at the cover. What a lucky girl I am that he said he wanted to buy it for me.
Come to One Pico at Shutters on the Beach for sunsets, ocean breezes, buttered bread, fresh fish, candlelight, and spacious elegance. Doughnuts just make it even more appealing, and a cookbook to make it all happen at home says something about the generosity of the owners. I highly recommend One Pico to anyone planning a special date or anniversary, or to anyone who wants to feel like they’ve escaped from LA if only for an evening. Make it a true mini-vacation by booking a night at the Shutters Hotel, so you can unwind after dinner in the comfort of your breezy, ocean-inspired bedroom overlooking the sea.
One Pico is located at, you guessed it, 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Their phone number is 310-458-0030, and to check out the hotel and see pictures of the restaurant, visit http://www.shuttersonthebeach.com/.