This is a mod dining room, especially for a Ritz-Carlton—a gleaming white onyx communal table runs across its middle—but if there’s a crowd in the bar and lounge, it can be excruciatingly loud. The food’s first-rate, though, whether you’re going for an easy Caesar and a burger or something fancier, like almond-dusted calamari, beef carpaccio with a tiny hen’s egg, or turbot with guanciale and whipped brandade. Service is gracious.
Best Calamari, June 2007
is not an appetizing word. Its Italian equivalent, calamari
, on the other hand, calls up an Adriatic seaside, alfresco dining with a backdrop of colorful boats bobbing at their moorings. How fitting, then, that our favorite calamari can be enjoyed on the patio of Jer-Ne
, overlooking the sloops in the Marina’s harbor. Chef Drew Sayes dusts his rings with a blend of almond and tapioca flours (a bonus for those avoiding gluten) before frying them—quickly, so that they soften without overcrisping. The flavor, as delicate as the texture, is released with a salad of ceci
beans, fennel, radishes, and arugula.
Best Caipirinha, August 2004
Made of muddled lime and sugar, crushed ice, and drenched with a sugarcane brandy called cachaca
, the caipirinha
is the Brazilian cousin of the mojito
. It’s labor intensive to make and potent to drink—Henry Ford reportedly tried to outlaw cachaca at his Brazilian rubber outposts because he thought his workers were losing focus. Caipirinha-savvy bars are a small subset in L.A., and some interpretations are laughably broad, so stick with the professionals. The Jer-Ne Restaurant + Bar
in the Marina Del Ray Ritz-Carlton serves a fine version. Our top prize, however, goes to Ciudad
(closed) where bartender Victor muddles and mixes with the fluidity of a magician and gets the proportion of ice and cachaca just right. Word to the wise: Go heavy on the tip. It takes five minutes and hardy biceps to make one drink.