Brunching is a long standing tradition in Los Angeles, especially as we start to get into summer and the weather becomes even more beautiful than it’s already known for. A recent Saturday found myself and a friend searching for a midweek brunch after a business meeting, and being along the coast, I decided to try R+D Kitchen, a more casual offering from the Hillstone Restaurant Group, best known for their other mainstay Houstons.
We arrived at noon and despite packed tables and an easy booth waiting, my friend and I decided to saddle up to the empty bar, a lucky moment for us as moments later it would be packed as would the front of the restaurant waiting for openings. The entire frontage of the restaurant opens to allow air to flow in and out, creating an environment connected to the street.
Speaking of environment, R+D is as hand crafted in design as it’s cocktails and menu are. The solid wood bar with it’s gently curved edge is comfortable and warm, and a fireplace at one in creates a warm environment on the cold nights by the ocean. The rest of the space is a mix of warm woods and metals bathed in natural lights and culminating in an exhibition kitchen that shows off what will soon come to your table. Want to see how different R+D thinks about their food and menu? Explore the design of even their bathrooms (I won’t share a secret) and you’ll see different here is a very good exploration.
Warmth of the environment aside, the service is on point from the moment you walk in the door. A friendly staff member seats you, and in our case at the bar the bartender is there with cloth napkins and utensils ready for your meal. But first…
There is a full bar with a large selection of wine and beer as well as a handcrafted cocktail list. On a warm summer afternoon, I went with an Old Fashioned. The result was of course delicious, a perfect balance and everything you want in just such a cocktail. It was served with a glass of ice cold water, no ice here, just pure hydration kept full at all times.
The menu, while limited, is broad ranging and full of new twists on old favorites down to homestyle deviled eggs. Being sufficiently hydrated, my partner and I selected our entrees and an appetizer of Chicken Meatballs. I will soon learn we made a mistake.
Our mistake being an abundance of food. First, the chicken meatballs. They tasted just like you’d expect homemade meatballs to be, moist, dense to a point, and with an acidic tomato sauce that reminded me of my last trip to Italy. As if that weren’t enough…
…this monster arrived next. This is Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich and it could have fed us both comfortably. Mine, minus tomato, was amazingly delightful in its mix of textures and flavors. The sesame bun just firm enough, the chicken crunchy yet not dry, and the mix of a sweet and tart slaw and milk swiss made for a perfect lunch, albeit one way too large for my stomach.
My cohort ordered fries, and they were good, but not outstanding. Dipping sauces were the same. A great accompaniment, exactly as they should be.
And that’s the thing about R+D that to me is the selling point. Amazingly good approachable food in an environment that’s inviting and beautiful yet far away from the sea of flash in the pan LA culinary nightmares that seem to be growing more and more every day. I for one can say I will be back, and often.
The details :
Name : R+D Kitchen
Address: 1323 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403 USA
Telephone: +1 (323) 395 3314
Payment: All Major Credit Cards, Cash
Note: Reservations Not Accepted, First Come First Served