We hadn’t been to dinner at Viceroy Santa Monica since the days when its restaurant, now called Cast, was Whist (so about a year). We were pleasantly surprised to find that the same chic, poolside ambiance we had experienced in the past hasn’t changed one iota.
There’s comfort in consistency here at Cast, which is still helmed by executive chef Tony DiSalvo, still offers a California fusion menu and is still a celebrity hot spot (True Blood star Sam Trammell was one of the many stars we saw dining during dinner hour).
Those who were fond of Whist will enjoy the same ambiance at Cast, which has changed its decor ever-so-slightly. There are communal tables now, as well as a beautifully detailed mosaic sliding door that creates an intimate indoor space. You’ll also find twinkly lights and private poolside cabanas, which, at nighttime, spells equal parts romance and fun in equal parts (depending on who you’re dining with).
So here’s what you can expect from the menu: enjoy small bites like cast iron-roasted corn bread with maple butter, beef tartare crostini with parmesan and arugula and—our favorite—lamb kefta meatballs with orange, pistachio and yogurt. Move on to spinach salad with house-made lamb bacon, figs and walnut and vadouvan vinaigrette (though you might want to ask the chef to go light on the dressing—this is California after all) and spiced cured pork belly with walnut pumpkin crouton endive and pomegranate gastrique.
Our favorite large plates were those that came from the sea, such as the diver scallops with dungeness crab risotto, snap peas and shiso vinaigrette, as well as the Maine lobster with corn, chanterelles, lemongrass and coconut.
Post-dinner, you could opt for a dessert like the almond milk panna cotta with saffron pavalova, pistachio, rhubarb compote and strawberry frozen yogurt, or you could just keep ordering from the fabulous cocktail menu. We just had to try the Strawberry Julep with bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup fresh strawberries and mint—and trust us, we weren’t disappointed. In fact, we had two!
Our advice: have cocktails at sunset, stay for light bites during the dinner hour, and head back to the bar for post-dinner drinks, because Cast—and the Viceroy itself—is still a cool, late-night scene.