Tar & Roses | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Tar & Roses

photo by Anne Fishbein

With Tar & Roses, chef Andrew Kirschner has done something quite rare: taken the food of the moment and elevated it beyond what we expect, beyond — probably — what he needs to do to keep the room packed (and it is very packed). Kirschner has a way with contrasts, on the vegetable portion of his menu and beyond. A serving of Jerusalem artichokes seems almost ludicrously generous in nature, dotted with goat cheese and showered with hazelnuts. It’s stunningly delicious. Crostini with sardines and lush avocado comes topped with fistfuls of cilantro and pickled onion for tang. Risks are taken, meats that other chefs have forsaken (such as venison and lamb heart) are prized and elevated here. In the restaurant’s two-year journey, it has become one of the most interesting, reliable and often thrilling places to eat in Santa Monica. —Besha Rodell