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By Vildana Hajric
Observer Staff Writer 

Even Dogs Are Welcome at Ashland-Hill's Casual Beer and Wine Garden

Sipping on Gin & Juice at Local Santa Monica Hotspot

 

January 24, 2017

Ashland Hill, a Santa Monica favorite amongst locals, will be celebrating its second anniversary at the end of the month.

The casual beer and wine garden features California-inspired bites, a rotating selection of popular taps, and a brand new gin and tonic menu. Executive Chef Greg Daniels, who got his start at one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Michelin-rated New York restaurants, is in charge of the menu, and certainly has reason to raise a glass in celebration. 

The restaurant offers a cozy, yet tiny, indoor bar, but the majority of Ashland's guests dine outside. The outdoor seating area, which, on a chilly night, felt warm thanks to an abundance of heat lamps, was adorned by luminous string lights. Seating was plentiful, with long, wooden benches encircling the space and additional tables in the middle. The patio is decorated with lively green plants. Dogs, too, are welcome - more than a few were out on town with their owners. 

In addition to its extensive food, beer, and wine menus, the restaurant recently added a gin and tonic list. It's a new, and bold, endeavor, as few restaurants in the area present such a wide selection of craft gins and tonics.

Patrons are offered a choice of cocktails assembled by a professional mixologist or are welcome to create their own mixed drink. One of the most popular handcrafted cocktails is the Patrick Verge Gin & Juice, a moniker based on the owner's brother. It's a refreshing mix of berries, fresh limejuice, and Bainbridge organic gin, garnished with sweet mint and orange peel. The J-Snap, another favorite, is based on a prominent local - a VP of Snap Inc. (the parent company of Snapchat), who has been seen dining at the establishment. 

However, if you're feeling adventurous and prefer to create your own concoction, the list of gins is substantial, with an equally impressive collection of unconventional tonics, including elderflower, dandelion and grapefruit.  

The crispy cauliflower starter is one of Ashland Hill's most popular dishes. Fried morsels are served in a big, hot heap and topped with pickled vegetables. The combination pairs well, surprisingly, as do the spicy pickled vegetables topping the expertly grilled octopus. 

The poached salmon and chicken are favorites among the entrees. The salmon is served on a bed of crunchy yellow and green beans, topped with fresh dill. Vegetarians should opt for the falafel wrap, which is bundled together with creamy avocado, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. The side of fries is hand cut and is served thin, hot, and salty, with bites of fried garlic crisps. 

Although the menu doesn't list it, Ashland offers a bread pudding. The desert is topped with ice cream and each bite contains juicy cranberries and swirls of cinnamon. A blueberry crumble and an adult (alcoholic) root beer float round out the list of sweets. 

Ashland Hill's got something for everyone - gluten free and vegetarian items, an extensive happy hour menu, and an extremely popular weekend brunch tradition. The restaurant was busy even on a weeknight, with young couples and groups of friends giving the outdoor patio a youthful vibe. And as LA's rainy winter inevitably starts winding down, Ashland Hill will undoubtedly find more patrons sipping on gin and juice al fresco.

 

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