BY TAMARA PALMER
Four-month-old restaurant Native is a new favorite in Santa Monica, a city I've been reconnecting with quite a bit over the past few years (where reconnecting = eating excessively). The name of Top Chef alum Nyesha J. Arrington's first restaurant is a reference to her being born and raised in LA, and we're informed by the server that the menu draws from the cross-cultural makeup of Southern California and utilizes local purveyors.
That translates to dishes like a perfect pork chop glazed in gochujang and Wagyu beef tartare with aisoon sauce and Korean mustard, both nods to her Korean grandmother (pictured above), and a decadent bowl of chestnut spaghetti with shiitake mushrooms, slivered snow peas and fat coins of burrata. That was the best bowl of pasta I've had in several months. . . since I ate handmade red-yolked Italian pasta crafted in Bologna and flown to nearby Uovo last fall.
I had tunnel vision for a lot of the carbs on the menu (couldn't help it), so I probably could have balanced the meal better than to also order the Kemper Farms wheat bread with carrot cardamom butter and the kombu-scented potatoes with arugula seaweed butter, but I am honestly not sure which I would have been willing to give up.
And a more reasonable diner would perhaps have not ordered dessert, but they would have been missing out on something pretty special. Not sure how you say no to something called Deep Fried Chocolate, which was a rather elegant take on a churro, with candied Serrano pepper.
The gentle love expression in her food was really felt and it's going to be exciting to see how this Native progresses.
Native, 620 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica