Farm-to-table menus have gained greater prominence in recent years for so many great reasons. As a diner, what it means for you is the freshest ingredients, and dishes that evolve from those ingredients, leading to a dining experience that allows you to really savor everything that is incorporated into each dish. No one does this better than Cast at Viceroy Santa Monica Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo.
The Market Tasting Menu that Chef DiSalvo created comes together from scouring the farmer’s market in Santa Monica. On Tuesdays, Chef DiSalvo and Chef Adrian Padilla search out the best ingredients at the market, trying to focus on the organic variety, and then back to Cast it is. A bit like a Food Network show without the cameras, Chef DiSalvo quickly goes to work developing an entire menu in one day that will be featured on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The following week he starts all over again, so on those evenings you might not know what to expect in terms of the ingredients, but you can expect greatness.
A recent visit to Cast on a Market Tasting Menu evening did not disappoint. Fresh ingredients were abundant, making you eat just a little slower than normal so you can savor every intricate detail of the menu. The menu opened with a unique fig and ricotta tartlet, a brilliantly composed dish that hit the sweet and savory combination it was meant to. The fig that tasted as if it was just plucked from a tree was the focal point of the dish, with an almost domineering sweetness– and being perfectly ripe, it was a light and refreshing way to begin your evening. Next up came the main course, and you have the option of choosing either one or the other or both, and trust me, both is the only way to go. The Roasted Alaskan Halibut was the dish of the night without question; one touch with your fork and the flakiness and tenderness was obvious as it effortlessly fell apart. The halibut was seasoned with paprika prior to cooking, allowing it to absorb that flavor. It was then finished off with a basil emulsion, and was served with some tasty fingerling potato chips that provided a great contrast in texture. Not far behind the fish were the baby tomatoes that were bursting with juice and flavor. You are going to have a difficult time finding a better Alaskan Halibut dish anywhere.
The reason you need to pick both main course dishes is so that you don’t miss the beef trio served in pho broth. The trio of beef was made up of beef tenderloin, oxtail and roasted prime rib, and there was so much you always had one of these tender pieces of beef on your spoon. While the broth and beef components were spectacular, the summer mushrooms really elevated this dish with their fresh and earthy flavor. The Market Tasting Menu was completed with a gluten-free angel food cake that was accompanied by a pistachio whipped cream, strawberries and a strawberry sorbet; a nice light and flavorful dessert to complete what was a flawless tasting menu. You can also have the entire meal paired with wine, and at $48 dollars for the four course meal and an additional $30 for the wine pairing, this is a true bargain.
Cast certainly should be visited on other nights also, as the setting alone at the beautiful Viceroy Santa Monica is worth a visit by itself. The Library Libation, made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Fever Tree Ginger Beer, is the perfect refreshing cocktail to relax with as you enjoy the ocean breeze and the sunset on the Cast patio. This setting is perfect for a party with a group of friends, or if you are looking for something a little more intimate and romantic, it’s also a great setting.
The menu the rest of the week is one that will appease any appetite, and it begins with the appetizers. It would be hard to find a more well-rounded appetizer menu than what Cast offers, with Hamachi and citrus ceviche, grilled octopus, spiced pork belly, Korean style grilled beef short rib skewers that are as tender as an aged steak and lamb kefta meatballs with a nice light orange and pistachio yogurt.
Your main course options seem limitless as you can choose from options such as crispy fried whole red snapper; diver scallops accompanied by Dungeness crab risotto; or, you can even create your own surf and turf by choosing the smaller versions of the Maine lobster and grilled rib steak. Cast also does a fantastic job catering to those who have special dietary needs by substituting items such as a crostini with avocado and lettuce, not to mention their Meatless Monday for vegetarians. The staff is so amazing! If you ask for it and there is any possible way the can comply, they will make it happen.
Cast might be hidden away in the Viceroy, but if you are looking for one of the truly best dining experiences, don’t wait until you stay at this beautiful hotel for the night. Simply add Cast to your list of the best restaurants in Los Angeles.
For more information visit Cast Restaurant at Viceroy Santa Monica