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.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.