Little Prince first started out as a pop-up brunch spot in Santa Monica, but due to its popularity, it became a permanent restaurant serving both brunch and dinner. The restaurant is beautifully designed with rustic wood furniture; it's dimly lit and the perfect place to stop by for dinner, a cocktail or two, or even just dessert.
Little Prince's chef, Ari Taymor, formerly spearheaded the widely acclaimed downtown restaurant Alma, and he partners with several Southern California farms which provide the restaurant with only high-quality produce, so rest assured that if you stop by Little Prince, you'll be eating food that not only tastes good but is good for you.
When Ari Taymor was in college, he studied philosophy, and it's an influence that has stayed with him ever since. Post-college, he decided to train at multiple Award-winning and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Ari's first major success was opening up Alma, an 8-table, downtown LA prix fixe phenom that attracted heated attention very early on.
Alma was named Best New Restaurant in 2013 by Bon Appetit, Food & Wine's Best New Chef in 2014, and a 2015 nominee for Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation, Taymor experienced first-hand the intense pressures that come along with a such a meteoric rise.
In 2017, Taymor took a life-changing trip to Australia with 3 friends, all of which are now his partners in Little Prince.
"My priorities in life and what I was looking for in my career really changed. I was sitting on some offers for the next project, but now I had the opportunity to work with friends, people I respected, and who were really inspiring to me creatively. In that environment, I'm able to be a better leader, to create a more cohesive and positive experience" in the kitchen, in the restaurant, for the staff, and for the guests,” said Ari Taymor.
In 2018, Little Price opened up as a brunch-only pop-up restaurant, but it wasn't long before Little Prince became permanent, and now it's open for dinner six nights a week.
The cuisine is seasonal and, with Taymor at the helm, always creative.
Taymor's philosophy towards cooking is "storytelling, a sense-memory, nostalgia, trying to create dishes that can be traced back to a particular moment in time using smell, texture, temperature, something more evocative than just taking a French version of some dish and tweaking it.”
"I don't read cookbooks or restaurant reviews. Inspiration for me comes from being in an environment where I feel connected, and from there, ideas tend to flow pretty naturally,” says Taymor. “The focus at Little Prince is creating an overwhelmingly positive experience for the people who come here, the people who work here, the vendors and farmers that we work with, so we're able to go home at night and think that, what limited impact we've been able to have has been a net positive."
“Bringing fresh, local, and seasonal produce to the forefront of the breakfast experience, alongside spirited and herbaceous cocktails, the concept of a dreamy, stay-all-day place to gather by the sea with friends soon took hold. After amazing support from the community, the Main street location became the permanent home for Little Prince.” - Little Prince
My first initial impression of Little Prince was, "why did I wait so long before coming here?"
I stopped by on a gloomy Saturday night, it was still early in the evening, and there were only a few other people in the restaurant. I sat at the chef's table which is directly in front of their burning wood oven, where you could watch the chef cooking.
The amazing thing about Little Prince is that the menu is constantly evolving with the seasons; I'm an avid Yelper, so based on the reviews I read on Yelp, I knew I'd be getting something completely different from what I expected when I walked through the doors of Little Prince.
The menu is broken down into sections, Dinner Drinks, Dinner, Sundowners Happy Hour, Brunch Drinks, and Brunch.
As I watched the chef thinly slice yellowtail and chuck oysters, I browsed through the cocktail list. Y Tu Mama caught my eye; made with tequila Blanco, serrano fire water, chicha morada, lime, agave, cinnamon, and topped with a rosebud salt lick. My server recommended it, saying it was similar to a margarita and that it was. It was deliciously fruity, and a great option for anyone who enjoys a sweet cocktail.
My second favorite was the Cheap Thrills, made with rosaluna espadin mezcal, ancho reyes, agave, lemon, angostura bitters, with a szechuan flower salt lick. Both drinks were phenomenal and definitely worth coming back for.
Moving on to food - the menu is short and sweet. I'd recommend starting with the bread and butter, as their bread is some of the best sourdough I've ever had. It came freshly toasted with a dollop of cultured butter on the side.
Next up, oysters, The Kusshi Oysters are on the smaller side and made with a tomatillo cocktail granita and then topped with granny smith apples.
I'll admit, I wanted to like them, but they lacked in flavor. A kick or some fresh horseradish would have been a great addition.
If you're not a fan of oysters, opt for the Melon and Yellowtail Crudo instead. It's made with cucumber, perilla, Meyer lemon confit, and a hazelnut leche de tigre; it's both refreshing and delicious.
For my entree, I ordered the Pan Roasted King Salmon, with marinated heirloom tomatoes and daikon radish, crispy shallot, with an earl grey onion broth. This dish was divine, and the salmon melted in my mouth; definitely a great option for dinner, and the best part was the crispy skin which made the fish taste incredibly flavorful.
The salmon was fairly filling, especially considering I'd inhaled the sourdough prior to it, but next time I'll be trying out the Little Gem Wedge, made with kiwi, escabeche, charred nopal, cotija cheese, puffed amaranth, tomatillo vinaigrette, and a ranch crema.
If you have room for dessert after your meal, there's a seasonal fruit crumble that's baked in their wood oven and made with a homemade creme fraiche ice cream that is absolutely delicious.
Little Prince also offers an incredible selection of wine from the best and most rare winemakers from all over the world. They offer monthly club memberships in which you can get two bottles of wine per month, and you also receive various benefits and other discounts that you can check out on their website.
I didn't try any of their wines due to their cocktails being fantastic, but the wine is definitely on my list of things to try next.
Little Prince is located on Main Street in Santa Monica; there is plenty of street parking in the area. I'd recommend making a reservation and definitely coming in the evening if you're looking for something romantic and special. It's definitely worth it.
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