Grilling the Perfect Octopus with Chef Brian Malarkey

Welcome to Herringbone, the Highly-acclaimed Brainchild of Chef Brian Malarkey

Written By: Christine Williamson Grilling the Perfect Octopus with Chef Brian Malarkey
Photographed By: Shane Radacosky

If you’re native to Los Angeles, you’re lucky. You grew up in one of the most culturally diverse cities in America and you were raised with a palate that’s had the opportunity to savor everything from sticky Korean chicken wings, superior seafood and indisputably the best tacos north of the border.

If you’re new to Los Angeles, you’re also fortunate. Our city’s food scene has swelled in the past five years, giving rise to more chef-driven restaurants than ever. Food trucks have taken a back seat to beautiful brick and mortars, where atmosphere is just as important as what is on the plate.

This expert knows what Los Angeles is all about—unique cuisine, changing tastes, fresh ingredients and a creative look on what it means to bring people together over a good meal.

Expert: Chef Brian Malarkey, Herringbone Restaurant

The One Ingredient He Can’t Live Without: “Citrus. It makes the whole world brighter.”

Octo-perfect: Brian Malarkey’s secret to a perfectly grilled octopus? Poaching the octopus slowly and for a long time. Once the octopus is extremely tender, put it on a super hot grill.

Located at The Seychelle on Ocean Avenue, just a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean, Brian Malarkey’s Herringbone debuted last year to glowing reviews. Inside the modern space, designed by Thomas Schoos, you’ll find a living wall of greenery set among chandeliers and custom made rope sculptures. This is not your kitschy, nautical-themed seafood restaurant. Herringbone is stylish and refined, and equipped with a heated patio ready for guests to enjoy ocean-air dining.

Q: Firstly, congratulations on all of your success over the past five years. You’re originally from the Pacific Northwest; what brought you to Southern California after culinary school?

Brian Malarkey: I came to Los Angeles because I had relatives and friends in the area and always wanted to check it out. I was a starstruck 19 year old! Once I got to LA, I was presented the wonderful opportunity to do an internship at Citrus.

Q: Your first restaurant, Searsucker in San Diego, was listed at #2 on Time magazine’s Hottest Restaurants in the Country list. It has become a must-stop dining destination for anyone in Downtown San Diego. After opening a successful New American restaurant, what made you depart into the “ocean-to-table” arena?

BM: I was always a seafood guy before I was a farm-to-table guy. I worked with the wonderful Oceanaire group for eight years, which was a heavy, heavy seafood concept. We butchered our own fish and had the most abundant ocean menu of all time. When I left there I knew I was known for seafood and I wanted to take a different approach, so that is why I opened Searsucker.

Q: Santa Monica’s dining scene has really taken off in the past year. What sets Herringbone apart?

BM: Herringbone Santa Monica doesn’t want to be apart, it wants to be a piece of the puzzle. The city of Santa Monica and its dining scene are growing so incredibly and, at Herringbone, we want to be part of this fantastic community. There is an outstanding farmers market that brings together great chefs from the city, who you run into every Wednesday and Sunday. We love our location between Santa Monica and Venice. It helps program us for the local vibe we strive for.

Q: Why is sustainable seafood important?

BM: As a father and citizen of the planet, I want my kids to have seafood in their lives. There are enough options to not be sustainable and be lazy.

Q: Tell us about Salt & Brine located inside Herringbone.

BM: Salt & Brine at Herringbone Santa Monica brings together two of my favorite things: fresh seafood (and oysters) and smoky, salty charcuterie! It is the perfect way to start a meal.

Q: How did it feel to be invited to cook at the 2013 James Beard Award Dinner?

BM: I was very excited to be presented the opportunity and thrilled to cook for my peers. However, when I arrived at Gotham Hall, I realized I was cooking for 880 people out of a closet with hot boxes as my only form of equipment. A dream come true became the worst Top Chef challenge of my entire life, but we pulled it off. I would love to have another opportunity to cook for all those amazing chefs.  

Q: What can locals expect for brunch at Herringbone?

BM: Brunch at Herringbone Santa Monica offers something for everyone. We have amazing mimosas and shared plates, including an indulgent Croque Madame or healthy options like The Health Nut Parfait. The big windows and fresh, open air make for the perfect way to start any weekend day.

Q: Favorite daytime cocktail?

BM: I am man enough to admit I love a good mimosa.

Q: How does your social media presence play into promoting your restaurants?

BM: It is hard to measure how much people are coming in from social media but it is definitely very powerful. To be honest, I am still old-fashioned and feel that the best communication is face-to-face interaction inside of the restaurant.

Q: What’s your most Instagrammed dish?

BM: The whole-fish ceviche!

Q:  What do you enjoy doing outside of the kitchen?

BM: Playing with my children (preferably at the beach)!

Q: What do you have coming up in 2016?

BM: I plan on continuing to work with my amazing teams while fine-tuning our menus and restaurants. We are also excited for Herringbone Las Vegas to open this year!

1755 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401


About the author

Author profile

A Californian girl, Christine spends time vacillating between the deserts in Palm Springs, the city of Los Angeles and the beaches of the OC. Christine is the founder of Spring Social, which focuses on social media and marketing for restaurants.


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