Sam's By The Beach
108 W. Channel Road
Santa Monica, CA 90402

“Sam’s By The Beach” is one of our longtime favorite places to go when you come home from work and just want to kick back and have a great meal. Since we moved from living at the beach in Santa Monica, it has been quite some time since we’ve revisited our old haunt, and we found it to be even better than we had remembered!

Once known as “The Canyon Bistro” in its previous life, this cozy neighborhood eatery opened about eight years ago; when the proprietor, Samer (“Sam”) Elias gave it a face life, he renamed it, “ Sam’s”. When we lived in the neighborhood, there were a variety of choices up and down the street; this warm and unpretentious venue quickly became our “commissary”. After our most recent meals, we remember with great affection why we loved coming here. Just driving up to the valet, one is immediately soothed by the sea scented ocean air.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were warmly welcomed back by the unmistakably handsome and charming Sam, as if we were returning to an old friend’s home after a much-noted absence. Michael was rushed a perfectly spiced Bloody Mary (his usual), and we snuggled into our favorite faux animal skin booth. A quick glance around the room fills your senses with the feeling that this place has been around for more than five minutes (which is usually not the case in L.A.). The room is warm and inviting, as if in a European café with snow coming down outside. The distressed and highly shined old wood floors are surrounded by foiled walls, mirrors draped with miles of thick fabric, myriad fluffy pillows, and candles and exotic Middle Eastern lanterns casting playful shadows around the room.

With a full bar to choose from, Scott settled in on a petite Syrah from 4 Vine Vineyards ($38 a bottle) and we started with Sam’s Trio, a sampler dish of Hummus, Taboule and Babaganouch, served with pita bread. Is “divine” to strong of a word? A previous visit solidified our pick for another starter, the Blue “fin” tartar, which is a conglomeration of fresh ahi Tuna mixed with parsley, homemade chili paste, olive oil and a “secret ingredient” Don’t bother asking Sam about that secret ingredient, as it comes from his childhood in Syria.

And don’t fill up on starters, as the rest of the menu is equally as intriguing. Sam personally goes each morning to the downtown markets, skillfully choosing only the finest ingredients for his fare. The Grilled New York Steak with a Roquefort and wine sauce with hand cut Kennebunk French fried potatoes is exceptional. All the dishes are cooked with an Eastern Mediterranean emphasis, making his signature dish, the Australian lamb, beyond taste description. Braised for six hours with vegetables and exotic herbs, it is served with watercress and French fries. Another lamb dish was cooked in a Dijon mustard seed sauce and was served with golden beats and carrot soufflé. Simply Delicious.

Don’t forget to save room to end your meal with Sam’s Chocolate mouse, which always seems to trump the competition. The hazelnut chocolate bread pudding is equally scrumptious, and the Bird Nest (shredded phyllo dough topped with milk custard and pistachio in a rose water syrup) is one of the most unique finale’s we’ve tasted. If you twist his arm (not very hard) he’ll make you white peaches simmered in white wine, served with homemade pistachio gelato. And make sure to ask for the “off the menu” chamomile tea….a concoction of brewed rose buds and handpicked chamomile flowers direct from his grandmother’s farm in Cyprus.

The service is always wonderful and personalized. Sam is so accommodating that if you live nearby he will offer extraordinary take out service including china (on loan, of course). Prices for entrees range from 18.95-24.95 and they are open every night except Monday. Every other month on Thursday’s a wine paired dinner is presented. This comfy and unique locale accommodates private parties of 30 to 70 folks. The private patio in the back accommodates small intimate wine dinners in the evenings, and kids menus and pizzas on Sundays.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 3:01 PM | , , , | 0 comments »

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