With all of this rain, cold weather, and anti-summer days here in Chicago, it’s easy to imagine yourself somewhere else. Since I just returned from a trip to California myself, I’ve been craving some sort of sun and summer-like temperatures even more. However, the good news is that no matter what kind of weather Chicago is “graced” with during the year (or even if funds are to tight to head to the Golden State), Summer House Santa Monica is opened all year round to offer us locals a dreamy West Coast oasis.
Inspired by Californian flare and its “laid back” vibes, SHSM is bright and welcoming. While greenery and lanterns are suspended from high ceilings, the light pastel colors and clean, rustic decor all promote the “California feel.” It’s hard not to feel “chill” and charmed by this beach-cottage-like space.
Ranging from a selection of vegetable dishes, seafood, steaks, pasta, and of course salads, each menu item on the menu is intended to be representative of the “So-Cal” appeal. That means expect lots of avocado, fresh flavors, and colorful ingredients.
Still remaining a buzzy trendsetter both at home and out in restaurants, the avocado toast is more than its name suggests. The layers of scallion marscapone, hass avocado, and velvety poached eggs on top of house made sourdough bread, makes for a dish that is hearty, crunchy, and decadent.
For those who want a heavier, but-still-healthy-type of brunch, the smoked salmon hash brown benedict is the current standout. Nixing the traditional English Muffins, the layers of rich smoked salmon sit on top of a bed of crispy hash browns and topped with a poached egg, drizzled with creamy house made hollandaise. Although this combination of ingredients would be considered “heavy,” this dish leaves you satisfied and not over-full.
On the handheld front, SHSM’s burger menu is handcrafted to resemble a typical West coast version of the popular chain, In-N-Out. The English Muffin Burger relies on grilled onions, a slab of avocado, pico de gallo, melted pepper jack cheese, and most importantly, thousand island dressing, to replicate a new spin on the namesake classic. By serving such a large portion, SHSM aims to give its consumers a big “taste” of Californian flavors, but still allowing full appreciation for each ingredient.
Although the food and decor take center stage, SHSM also offers fresh juices, light cocktails, and crisp “zero proof,” cocktails, all filled with seasonal and fresh ingredients. Choices like the “cucumber collins,” made with mint, lime, and soda, or the bubbly, “palm fizz,” containing aromatized wine, apple, lemon, prosecco, and rosemary, are both a light and refreshing reminder of the West-Coast theme.
While SHSM is an ideal spot to grab a meal, it is also worth noting the bountiful and eye appealing bakery counter (up front) and the next door pizza mecca, Stella Barra as perfect compliments to your visit. As you wait to be seated in SHSM’s vitamin D room (if you don’t have a reservation or if there is a delay), munch on a sweet house made treat from the counter, like a gooey chocolate chip and rice krispy cookie or grab a drink and pizza from SB, they’re bound to take your mind off of the wait.
With that being said, instead of clicking your heels together during our long-awaited summer season and wishing you were somewhere else, take the easier route and just head to “California,” in Lincoln Park instead.
Food Pics: Me & Interior Shots: Courtesy of SHSM