Part upscale beach bungalow, part upscale small plates, part good ol’ fashioned comfort food, Ashland Hill has got a lot going on for such a small space. A stone’s throw from the sand along Santa Monica’s hip Main Street, Ashland Hill has cast a wide net to attract trendy millennials and local families alike. But has it lost its identity in the process?
Ashland Hill’s menu is relatively limited, but all falls under a solid theme of beautiful execution. On one end you have a small plates selection that would inspire almost any hipster to ride his fixed-gear bike straight over from his parents’ house. Grilled octopus with navy beans and chorizo produce an excellent compilation of flavors and textures, and the roasted mushroom avocado toast is rich and hearty. On the other, you’ve got a list of revamped classic indulgences, from the classic burger to fish & chips. The fried chicken sandwich was a true star here, with a near-perfect crunchy finish and sweet undertone. The steak frites also came out perfectly cooked with just the right salty touch.
So yes, the food here tastes great, and for the most part the portions are fair. It’s also so refreshing to see entrees served with fries and not a la carte! The issue, however, comes with perceived value. Most small plates are priced on par with the entrees. Entrees are already teetering on the high end—understandable given that the rent must be astronomically high in this location—so this could lead many guests to question why they would pay as much for four three-bit pieces of toast as they would for a full-size burger.
Cocktails are another issue, where classics like Moscow mules and bloody Marys replace vodka with soju, a Korean beverage that’s about half the strength of your typical spirit. This reads cheap, as does uncomfortable wood benches and the fact that silverware and low-grade napkins sit in the center of the table for guests to make their own place setting.
You will enjoy great-tasting food at Ashland Hill, but the whole package still has some kinks to work out.
Ashland Hill is located at 2807 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Open 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Mon – Thurs, 11 a.m. – midnight Fri, 8 a.m. – midnight Sat, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sun. Average out-the-door cost for small plate, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$76/person. For more information call (310) 392-3300 or visit Ashland Hill online.
Umami Burger has launched the latest collaboration in its Artist Series, Cameron’s Dallas BBQ Burger by internet celebrity Cameron Dallas. A portion of the sales of each burger will be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Cameron’s Dallas BBQ Burger features a beef patty, sharp cheddar cheese, miso-maple bacon, tempura serrano peppers, and savory bbq sauce. Cameron’s Dallas Burger is available for $14 starting at participating Umami Burger locations nationwide.
As part of the promotion for Cameron’s Dallas BBQ Burger, guests will have an opportunity to get a free order of truffle fries, one of Cameron’s favorite Umami Burger dishes. Guests who order Cameron’s Dallas BBQ Burger, follow @umamiburger on Instagram and post a photo of the burger with #camxumami simply need to show the post to their server to get a free order of truffle fries.
One dollar from each Cameron’s Dallas BBQ Burger sold from December 15 – January 31 will be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of the country’s leading pediatric academic medical research centers, providing lifesaving and life-changing care for children from around the world with serious injuries and complex health conditions. CHLA is dedicated to creating hope and building healthier futures for children through comprehensive care, groundbreaking medical research and training the next generation of top pediatric specialists.
For more information on Umami Burger, please visit umamiburger.com or follow @umamiburger or #umamiburger on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To learn more about the about Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, go to chla.org.
Burger City Grill, or BCG as it prefers, is spreading across the South Bay, bringing fun burger and fry concepts through Lomita, Downey and [coming 2017] Torrance. The growing fast-casual chain offers a simple, yet substantive menu that includes specialty burgers and fries, milkshakes, beer on tap and more than 100 soft drinks [thank you Coca Cola Freestyle machines].
BCG speaks to those looking for fresh ingredients and a bit of ‘hip and trendy,’ with a lot of affordability. Burgers deliver beautiful flavor, with the kicker on each being a crispy, buttered brioche bun. Fries are thick and hearty, and shakes are made in-house. BCG has about a half-dozen beers on tap that include Fat Tire and Firestone Walker 805 among others, which go well with sports broadcast on TV’s across the clean-cut dining area. Not a bad setup for a place where burgers start at under $5 with most hovering around $6 – 7.
The Cali is a natural favorite, topped with applewood smoked bacon and avocado, as well as the city slicker, with bacon and BBQ sauce. The shroomer features excellent grilled mushrooms, and would be a prime candidate for BCG’s turkey or veggie patty substitution. The BCG fries should be a top priority, clearly constructed to mimic In ’n’ Out’s animal-style fries…though at BCG you can't argue with the added bacon.
The biggest critiques here come with the chili—just not that into it—and the shakes—which are a bit overpriced compared to everything else and need some mix-in options like oreos, chocolate sauce and caramel to elevate the selection.
In the end, Burger City Grill joins those looking to rise above traditional fast food and offer fresh, fun food with sound prices in mind.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.