Last Saturday, the Cute Gardener and I spent the day traveling up the coast from Venice Beach to Oxnard to visit a historic home, three museums and two wine tastings. It was a typical gray May beach day full of dire skies and dampened time as we lagged on our itinerary and experienced delays and car-related obstacles along the way. At the end of this day, the grey seemed to mingle with our moods, which we were hoping to save with a dinner reservation at Malibu’s Savory Restaurant on the way home.
I don’t frequent Malibu much except when I am driving on PCH through its winding horizon-line hills. I am not prone to shop at luxurious strip malls and frequent trendy and taste-irrelevant spots where the only activities are to watch a potential line of celebrities out for morning coffee or shopping excursions. The city’s culture doesn’t carry much for a Raggedy Ann artist’s type like me. But once we were seated at our table at Savory, I became pleased with the first offering of free champagne that was presented to us by an enthusiastic hostess and felt the gray slip away as we approached the interesting and eclectic menu. It's always nice to have the perks delivered to us unexpectedly that result in my boyfriend's inclusion in the Open Table program.
As there was no solid cohesion to the menu’s offerings, we leaned towards choosing items to share that would deliver us a sense of comfort and good taste to take away the bluer aspects that had surrounded the otherwise surreal David Lynchian day.
The mussels were colored a perfect peach blush and swam in a broth heavily perfumed with marjoram and the juice of freshly popped and steaming yellow cherry tomatoes. They were perhaps over-seasoned with the herb but because I am not used to having mussels beyond the garlic and wine soaked norm, it was a novelty to my taste buds and therefore rather pleasing. Porous and crusty, butter-grilled bread helped sop up the fragrant juices.
A massive, slab of beer-batter coated cod came to us in crispy, fish and chip fashion. I could swear that one bite of the fish’s flesh seemed to burst with the brine of the sea like a swift and refreshing kick to my mouth as if it had just been freshly caught. The fried coating was addictively crisp and flavored with a tiny hint of something rich and smoky, which paired nicely with the leaning-towards-tzatziki, creamy tartar sauce spiked with fresh dill.
The comfort food climax arrived with the sausage pizza. Quartered and fennel rich chunks of sausage that tasted homemade sat on a sourdough-like thin crust covered in onion marmalade and authentic tomato sauce. The pizza was a little heavy on the onion spread, just like the mussels had been overdosed in marjoram, but the overall taste was still nice. Unlike most pizzas I have had of late, this one actually got the burrata right, melted consistently into a thin coating rather than lumped irregularly throughout the pie’s topmost layer.
This was perhaps the best spinach I have had in a long time. Each bite felt pregnant with a buttery coating, not too wilted or fried, and soothing to the soul.
The receding sun managed to peek from its cloud covers as we ended our meal, bringing forth the notion that a good meal at the end of a day can make the gray go away. Needless to say it was an early to bed evening, awash in the feelings of stomachs well fulfilled.