August 18, 2013
Amidst the crazy multicultural playground called Venice beach, lies an historic landmark, filled with grand original architecture and oozing the style of the modernist era. The building dates back to 1905 and is reminiscent of Venice. The interior has concrete floors, high vaulted ceilings, and nice floating contemporary lamps. With its original white brick accenting the bar, and very gothic ceiling, it screams progressive era while managing to be a very comforting space. There is an elegantly placed old-fashioned tricycle on the wall and this, combined with the leather chairs and banquets, add just the right touch of class to this gothic feel. Bank of Venice’s interior is gothic meeting modern, with a wine bar feel. This is a space that lends itself to smart fun conversation.
When you walk around Windward Ave., the true hub of Venice beach, you see street performers, retail stores, zip liners, open-air concerts, and lots of glorious Los Angeles tourists. Venice beach has a mixed reputation, some seedy, some rich, artsy, and famous. This 3-month-old restaurant can cater to all of the above. The location is one that has been occupied by several restaurants, of which non have survived for more than a year. Sometimes these kinds of locations are considered cursed but Bank of Venice has enough reasons to go the distance. The biggest one is its fully sustainable, organic, farm to table story.
Manager Megan said that they first thing they did was rip out the fryer from the previous owners. They don’t fry anything there! My server Jenny Cho, a former Pepperdine student, had answers to every question I asked. She gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, which perfectly complimented my wine consumption. Jenny and Megan both added to my delightful dining experience at Bank of Venice.
Executive Chef David Linville, formerly of The Standard Sunset Strip, Viceroy Hotel, St. Regis Hotel and Mastros Beverly Hills, has given up transparent Hollywood, and his Beverly Hills celebrity chef status. Happily residing on his 40-foot sailboat in Marina Del Rey, he is able to practice his long held passion for serving all things sustainable. He speaks with a glow when telling me about his products and how he keeps a lot of local producers in business. David basks in the glory of having great products that are farm fresh, and how he can be instrumental in keeping folks in business. Above all he wants his customers to be happy, and prides himself on only using clean healthy products. His grandmother cooked southern style cuisine; raised by her in the California Delta. She would cook green fried tomatoes, and potatoes with the cooking oil in the bottom of the serving bowl.
Chef David prefers a Northern Italian approach, he says, “ use good products, and let them speak for themselves.” On a recent visit to his girlfriends parents Iowa farm, he learned about corn, soy, and pigs, all the products that they farm. From this trip David brought a lot of that knowledge home for a real farm to table experience. He does not use any refined flour or sugar in his recipes, as well as salt with iodine or anti caking agents. You can tell he really respects the farmers, and the products he uses as everything is organic.
Here’s what I tried:
Quesadillas Del Banco with organic flour tortillas, aged raw cheddar, served with pico de gallo, guacamole, with pulled beef. These Quesadillas are loaded with beef, and it is plump and glorious, the accompaniments are glorious as well.
Camarones Del Banco with wild Mexican white shrimp, sautéed in coconut oil with Thai coconut curry. The sauce is so delicious, with such amazing creamy texture.
Tuna Poke – yellow fin ahi tossed in spicy aioli, soy and sesame, with cucumber and avocado. The marinade is very Asian, filled with soy and sesame oil. The Tuna is so fresh and they give you lots and lots of it.
Fresh Tomato Basil Soup, very creamy with nice tomatoes flavor, drizzled with heavy cream.
Baby Arugula: citrus Supremes, shaved fennel and Parmesan
veggies, zucchini and red peppers, over farmer’s greens. Very healthy, a nice way to start your meal.
Burrata Salad – strawberries, basil, balsamic reduction. This salad provided me with melt in your mouth goodness, truly a winner.
Cobb Salad- roasted chicken, egg, avocado, walnuts, bacon, blue cheese & market greens. Not your typical Cobb salad, but very satisfying all the same.
Pulled Pork with slow braised with house made BBQ sauce, blue cheese & arugula on brioche bun, with potato salad. The pork was very moist, with great BBQ sauce. Talk about lovely potato salad, this one is a winner.
Seared Sea Scallops over red garlic mashers, spinach and balsamic reduction. The scallops are cooked beyond perfect, with nice seared favors. Rounding off this spectacle of goodness is the balsamic reduction sauce; it added a sweet syrup consistency to this dish. Truly a great culinary achievement.
Megan’s Meatloaf – homemade grass-fed beef loaf with sautéed veggies and garlic mashers. Very complex favors in this meatloaf and the homemade ketchup on top is making my tastbuds go ballistic.
Bangers and Mash – natural pork sausage with garlic mash and caramelized onion. I am British, so I know good Bangers and Mash, these were terrific, the caramelized onions really hit the spot.
Chicken and lentils, reminded me of good home cooking, with a savory twist.
Here are the wines I tried:
Their wines are Local, organic, biodynamic and/or sustainable:
’11 THE GIRLS SAUVIGNON BLANC* (Napa, CA) citrus and crispness of fresh pineapple, hints of lemon grass. This wine was great with the Camarones Del Banco with wild Mexican white shrimp, it picked up the creamy coconut sauce that enhanced the wine.
’11 RANCHO SISQUOC SAUVIGNON BLANC (Santa Barbara, CA) oaky, sweet pea, pear, tropical fruits. I liked this wine with the Tuna Poke; it was simple, direct and enhanced the sesame flavors in this dish.
’11 446 CHARDONNAY (Monterey, CA) pineapple, apricot and peach with vanilla spice. You have to try this one with Seared Sea Scallops, it really added another dimension to the seared smokey flavor.
’12 FESS PARKER CHARDONNAY* (Santa Barbara, CA) medium bodied, well-balanced, buttery hint of oak, I would drink this wine with their special Chicken and lentils; it would be the perfect marriage.
’08 RANCHO SISQUOC MALBEC (Santa Barbara, CA) black cherry and blackberry pie, hints of currant. Megan’s Meatloaf went great with this wine, with its rich robust cherry flavors.
’08 BIG GUY BORDEAUX BLEND (Napa, CA) complex fruit and toasty oak with firm tannins. This wine went very nicely with the Bangers and Mash. The caramelized onions were spot on with this wine.
’11 HARLOW RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Napa, CA) spicy black cherry, fruit with hints of olive and vanilla, this wine went great with the Pulled Pork.
’08 JARHEAD CAB FRANC (Santa Ynez Valley, CA) black cherry, plum, toasty oak, hints of mocha spices. I loved this wine with the burger; all the little nuances added a special touch to this wine.
‘08 RECKLESS LOVE (Napa, CA) cabernet/Syrah blend with deep blackberry, current and chalky tannins. This wine went great with the burger and the meatloaf, great tannins and good fragrances.
Bank of Venice has such a cool, fun atmosphere, with great music piped in. I heard, Flock of Segals, Sly Stone, Tone Loc, Aerosmith, mostly 80’s and classic rock. Not to mention the viewing of Jamie Budge’s “The Californians” surf classic on a flat screen over the bar. Really, so much fun under one roof. Also, they save Monday nights for industry folks by offering lots of discounts for fellow restaurant and bar workers.
Bank of Venice has many strengths; its food is stellar, and the staff is all over the fact that everything is well thought out and perfect. I would rank this restaurant up there with the best of the best. Come hungry and leave happy, all things good will come your way. So come here to check out the Venice culture, which in itself is a spectacle for the eyes, then treat your palate with elegant, sumptuous cuisine; truly eating at Bank of Venice is a religious experience…Amen!
Bank of Venice
80 Windward Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
T / 310-450-5222