There have been quite a few changes at the Viceroy Santa Monica over the past year, and the latest is Whist's kitchen changeover that introduces new chef Tony DiSalvo, whose pedigree includes working at Jean Georges and Gramercy Tavern in New York, and most recently, Jack's in La Jolla (down in San Diego).
(Whist Cabana at The Viceroy)

Like most high-end chefs in town, DiSalvo worships at the altar of seasonal, local produce with a modern twist, but he seems to have a more romantic view than most, explaining that "I want to evoke places you've been or want to go, and make you imagine how the food in front of you is related to the traditional dish that inspired it."

That philosophy comes through with dishes that range from a simple mushroom soup that makes you long for autumn, to succulent seared scallops with cauliflower, capers, currants and pine nuts that combines disparate flavors we love into a coherent whole. Our other top appetizers? The sweet corn ravioli with lobster, pancetta and tomato and basil; and unctuously blood-red blue fin tuna bruschetta with fennel slaw and saffron aioli.

The Alaskan halibut dusted with bright green pistachios and served over baby spinach and herb risotto revitalizes an overused fish, while the medium-rare lamb medallions come dusted with cardamom over creamy ricotta gnocchi. The parmesan risotto with truffles would make Atkins himself reconsider his diet.

Pastry chef Brooke Mosley is still in charge of dessert, so you're in for treats that combine savory and sweet like bacon ice cream but we'll eat bacon in anything. Besides the menu, there's not too much new about the restaurant, but we love having a place on the Westside with poolside dining bungalows.

Address: 1819 Ocean Ave.
Cross Street: Pico Blvd.
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
Phone: (310) 260-7507
Hours: Mon-Sun 7:00am-3:00pm, Sun-Mon 6:30-10:00pm, Tues-Sat 6:30-11:00pm
Type: Californian, Mediterranean
Price: $$