4/12/2012 11:17:00 AM

The Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Wild Alaskan Halibut at Michael's

Michael's may not have been the first restaurant to move us from the stuffy, formalistic cuisine of Chasen's and Perino'sbut it's definitely the longest lived. When Michael McCarty opened his art gallery of a restaurant with its exquisite garden and walls lines with post-modernist paintings (including quite a few by his wife, Kim McCarty), the culinary world shook. His style was - and is - totally casual, with servers in khakis and pink button-down Oxford shirts.

Yet beneath that ease lurked a culinary understanding that remains considerable. Ask about any wine, and it will be described in immense detail. Ask about any dish, and you can taste the words. And those dishes were - and are - built around what's fresh at the nearby Santa Monica farmers market, with produce from Maryann, Zuckerman, Weiser and Valdivia farms.

There's a new spring menu at Michael's, prepared by chef John-Carlos Kuramoto (a 30 Under 30 honoree). And perhaps the most memorable dish is the wild Alaskan halibut ($40) - a buttery preparation that reminds us why we love halibut so much, served with carrot purée, roasted tomatoes, pea tendrils, haricots verts and a lemon-caper vinaigrette. Call it New French, New American, Californian, whatever. It's Michael's cuisine (310-451-0943).


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