When I tell you I have zero interest in raw food, you should trust me because well, I have zero interest. Or so I thought.
I’m a firm believer in personal growth and in living by the idea that we, as human beings, must continue to better ourselves by learning something new every day. Part of being a strong, influential, well-rounded person is humbling ourselves and being open to new ideas. My most recent moment of enlightenment happened at the soon-to-open living foods restaurant, M.A.K.E.
My love affair for slow-braised pork and finger-licking barbecue brisket is well-documented. I swoon for bacon-infused baked beans, crispy-fried chicken skin, and the like. But, I also love vegetables: salads, crisp snap peas, bitter, spicy micro lettuces, fresh herbs, and ripe pears. So, I like to think I’m open to just about any form of culinary ingenuity.
I recently attended Matthew Kenney’s newest endeavor, M.A.K.E. restaurant, for its soft opening to sample the menu and to meet the chefs. Let me tell you, I had my reservations, even coyly tweeting, “I’ve stashed pork rinds in my purse just in case.” The first thing that struck me was the beautifully minimalist interior. The walls are adorned with peculiar plants growing off the walls in natural, pale green wood frames. Tiny vases dotted each table with a single succulent poking out. Light green and white- and lemony-yellow colors paint the space.
So, for the food: We tasted several small bites to start, followed by entrees and dessert. After every single course (which I inhaled), I was nearly speechless. The flavors are so bright and clear; you can nearly taste every component. It’s amazing. Chef Kenney weaves flavors together that don’t seem appealing on paper, but they amazingly dance together in your mouth. There is no cloying chalkiness, no odd gummy textures, or unpalatable foul taste (as is sometimes the case with raw or vegan food.)
The fresh flavor of young celery is front and center in the celery soup with pear and juniper. Juniper? I read that on the menu and grimaced. I was dead wrong. The flavors meld beautifully—I didn’t necessarily place the juniper, but the whole dish was cohesive, perfectly seasoned, and satisfying.
The porcini cracker with coriander cream and herb stems was divine, which was only to be trumped by the carrot salad with greens and cashew sour cream. Or was it the beet gnocchi with micro greens, pesto, and olive oil that took the first prize?
I honestly found myself attempting to dissect each dish for my own benefit. Delicately tasting each dish, I relished in the many flavors, and to my surprise, I didn’t even notice the cool temperature. As you know, raw food can never be heated, so everything is prepared and served at room temperature. This retains the significant vitamin and nutritional content of the food. Bonus! I never once stopped and thought, “Huh, this is weird due to its tepid temperature.” The textures and flavors seem so natural that the absence of heat never comes into play. If nothing else, that’s a triumph right there.
On October 15th, M.A.K.E. opens to the public inside The Market in the (slightly) new Santa Monica Place. I highly encourage you to make this your next dinner reservation if for no other reason than to try something new and to step outside your usual self. It’s beautiful, laidback (the servers wear Chucks), and healthy (major bonus.) But all that doesn’t change the fact that the food is delicious. And this is coming from a steadfast, meat-and-potatoes, country-raised, steak-loving girl. I can’t wait to go back. Did I mention dessert? Oh, man, do they have dessert! Two words: Chocolate cake.
395 Santa Monica Pl.
Suite 333 “The Market”
Santa Monica, California 90401