Archive for the 'Michael’s – Santa Monica' Category

Michael’s – Santa Monica

We have been going to Michael’s since 1980. Nobody and I mean nobody knows how to put on a better party than Michael McCarty. He used to have a black-tie clambake in honor of James Beard’s birthday – this was an incredible feast that only Michael could pull off – unlimited oysters, unlimited lobsters (one year I ate 3), incredible roast pork just to mention a bit of the offerings.

From Michael’s website:

In 1979, at the age of 25, Michael McCarty founded MICHAEL’S, a restaurant in Santa Monica, California. An instant success, it remains one of the most acclaimed and popular restaurants in the United States. Both McCarty, who is chef/owner, and MICHAEL’S have been written about in countless national and international newspaper articles and in numerous magazine features. In 1984, he was named to Cook’s Magazine’s Top 50 “Who’s Who of Cooking in America”.

McCarty was raised in Briarcliff Manor, New York and Rockford, Illinois. His parents’ frequent parties and array of great friends gave him an early appreciation for stylish hospitality and good American food. He attended the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and lived in Rennes, France for a year as part of the Andover-Exeter School Year Abroad program at Rennes. It was there that McCarty made his first contact with the French Dining experience and, most important, with French Cuisine and joie de vivre.

After completing his secondary studies at the Hill School, McCarty moved to Paris to study cooking, wines and hotel and restaurant management. He received his Certificate d’Aptitude Professionelle from the Ecole Hoteliere de Paris, the Grand Diplome from the Cordon Bleu, and a diploma from the Academy du Vin. McCarty’s first restaurant venture came while still living on the Ile Saint-Louis, serving the first examples of MICHAEL’S New American Food. His fresh, light, innovative style of cooking became a basis for the founding of the “California Cuisine” movement.

From an article in the LA Times

The main reason I decided to become a restaurateur was that I live to entertain people, to show them a really wonderful time. And when things are going right at a party or in a restaurant – great food and great service with the right mix of people in the perfect setting – nothing beats it.

An all-star roster

When Michael’s opened in 1979, the chefs in the kitchen included Mark Peel (who later opened Campanile); Ken Frank (who went on to run La Toque here and, now, in Napa Valley) and Jonathan Waxman (who later introduced New York to California cuisine with his Jams restaurant). The all-star roster grew quickly.

Nancy Silverton, who began as a cashier, became the dessert chef before going on to Spago and Campanile. Kazuto Matsusaka went from Michael’s to Chinois. Roy Yamaguchi went from Michael’s to, ultimately, a global empire. Gordon Naccarato became the top chef in Aspen. Eric Tanaka, now at Dahlia Lounge in Seattle, is one of the top chefs in the Pacific Northwest.

From the start, ambience has been as important as cuisine at Michael’s, though, so he put thousands of dollars of fresh flowers everywhere, put half the tables outdoors in a lush garden and dressed the wait staff in Ralph Lauren pastels, not tuxedoes. He piped in jazz, not classical music, and he filled the walls with great original art, not what he dismisses as “red velvet and cobweb mirrors.”

“I wanted openness and fun and spontaneity,” he says.

We are very lucky people to have been a part of the party for almost 30 years. We had OUR table on the patio and spent year after year of incredible fun times, wonderful food and most importantly the graciousness of Michael. So this Sunday, we were invited to Michael’s 30th anniversary party and in true Michael fashion, it was a party to savor and one for the memory book.


Michael and Kim


The Garden –  one of the prettiest settings in all of Los Angeles




The band – notice the incredible artwork 



The Bar – inside


The Bar in the garden – Michael throws one incredible party!

Tray Passed Hors D’oeuvres 


House Cured Gravlax, Brioche



Veggie Spring Rolls



Baby Weiser Farms Potatoes, Sour Cream, American Caviar




Sashimi of Yellowtail, Spring Citrus, Micro Cilantro



Bass Ale Shrimp, Ginger Scallion Ponzu

Not pictured:

Ratatouille Spring Rolls

Assorted California Pizzas:

Wild Mushroom, Fontina Cheese, Fresh Thyme

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Sweet Onions




Pacific Northwest Oyster Bar, Banyuls Mignonette



Jamon Iberico Bellota and Other Party Meats


Jamon Plated





Dutch White Asparagus, Fava Beans, Morels, Chive Beurre Blanc





Seared La Belle Farms Foie Gras, Walnut Toast




Maine Lobster Risotto, White Corn, Spring Peas






Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crabs, Asian Slaw




Spit Roasted Sonoma Valley Suckling Pig




28 Day Dry Aged prime N.Y. Strip Steak Sandwich

Pommery Mustard, Grilled Walla Walla Onions, Jalepeno Lime Vinaigrette


Michael’s “Ce Qu’ll Faut” Cheese Station (not pictured)



Michael’s Dessert Station


As I mentioned earlier, no one, but no one can entertain the way Michael does. Thank you Michael for 30 years of fun, good food and your hospitality.