Shake Your Tail Feathers at the Roost at LA Farm

A Farmhouse Feel With Fine Dining Fare

WRITTEN BY: ALEXANDRA SHUBIN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: TARA SIMON

Located in Santa Monica, The Roost is a classy yet modern restaurant with a farm-to-table vibe. Upon first walking in, my senses were romantically overwhelmed. Visually, there is a blend of elements working to create a very clean but swanky atmosphere. The open foyer is decked out in rich, organic elements such as dark stained wood and hanging plants. Those elements are then coupled with metal accents creating an amative contrast. There are several sections within the restaurant each creating a different mood, but all have a common underlying amorous appeal. The table setting featured is in an open and very high ceiling room, which is both elegant and surrounded by natural elements. There is also another indoor dining area, an indoor bar (with six beers on tap and an array of wines and spirits), and an outside lounge with couches and fire pits. Some dining areas are set on dark wood tables while others have grey- blue linen, which stylishly breaks the mundane.

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The table itself was large enough to comfortably seat a small party. The white plates and gold-ware easily communicated elegance, romance and a celebration of modern and classic style. Although the table was long, it was centered with a simple white table runner which provided a rustic element. The table was adorned with tapered candles in gold holders, which varied in height. Contrasting with the white and gold setting, the centerpiece was an intricate and natural scion with berries. Each setting had both a white wine glass and a water glass. “This table was set up for one of our dinner party events. Our event decorator can help make our guest events as formal or as casual as they like, ” Laura explained.

Hungry for Rap Royalty, CHANEL WEST COAST is a Babe on a Breakthrough

Soulful blues music played while I interviewed the three owners of The Roost at LA Farm. Laura Ornelas, as described by her co-workers as the overall “den mother” handles the finance and operations. During much of the interview, she was walking around checking on the staff and ironing out the details that make The Roost. Anthony Trincanello is the general manager and level three sommelier, and John Keenan is the executive chef. The three have a playfully sassy rapport with one another which comes from not only seven years of doing business together but seven years of friendship. The bond between them is obvious and charming. Speaking with them was less of an interview and more of a conversation in which they would laugh and thoughtfully interact.

The quality of The Roost is not only in the ambiance, wine list, menu, or music, but it’s additionally within the three owners. The way they laugh, work, and communicate to one another is obviously the reason that The Roost will be a success. Like them, the restaurant is top notch but unassuming. This is the type of place you want to go for an upscale night out where you can also still be completely yourself.

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Interview with Executive Chef John Keenan, General Manager Anthony Trincanello and Controller Laura Ornelas

Q: Tell me about why you picked these dishes as the featured items?

John Keenan: I wanted to create a course that offers something for everyone. The things on this table are honestly what I enjoy. Everything is cooked simply, and it’s all ingredient-driven.

Q: What role do you feel color plays in the presentations of the meal?

JK: Well…that’s actually really funny because I am color blind. It’s less about adding color to make the food look good and more about using quality ingredients in the food. With that, color will come naturally.

Anthony Trincanello: Yeah, for example, it seems that the color comes from food with flavor. It’s accidental almost. He will make a delicious eggplant entrée, but it’s an ingredient-driven dish that happens to look colorful.

Q: What is your end goal for a table presentation?

JK: I’m not a huge presentation guy. Less ambiance is more.

Laura Ornelas: I want to create a space that’s simple yet elegant.

Q: As far as the restaurant goes, what is the mood you are trying to achieve?

LO: The evening is definitely romantic. We view The Roost as a little hideaway.

Q: How are you doing that specifically?

LO: The lighting in the evening is noticeably wonderful in my opinion.

AT: It’s the candles. It’s the flowers. It’s everything you are surrounded by that comes together.

Q: What do you feel keeps people coming back to The Roost?

LO: It feels like a family business. We have all worked together before. I think our personalities find a way of making it into the food and the atmosphere here, and we love our regulars!

AT: It’s a warm and comfortable space that has great food. It’s transformative too; It can be a black tie night or a casual night.

Q: Tell me about the different spaces you have.

LO: Aside from our dinners, events are another big element of what we do here. We have four spaces total, so we can host a variety of events depending on what the customer desires. We can do everything from corporate parties to wedding rehearsal dinners to baby showers.

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Q: Tell me about your lounge area. How big of a role does it play in contributing to your vibe?

AT: The vibe is a fun happy hour. We get a great crowd in both the bar and patio. The cocktails range from a creative twist to all the classics. We try to keep our drinks fruit friendly with no refined sugar.

Q: That sounds delicious! What about the wines?

AT: Well, I handpick our wines from family owned wineries. Quality wine is important to us here, so I work hard to bring in the best.

Q: How do you feel being located in LA affects The Roost?

JK: I believe that you can stick The Roost in more places, and it would work.

AT: I agree. The approachable aspect of the way we do everything here—from the food to the wine and to the ambiance—makes it so we can fit in any metropolitan area or country.

Q: What three words would you use to describe The Roost?

JK: Warm. Rustic. Elegant.

Q: Did you have an ‘ah-ha’ moment with cooking?

JK: I don’t think there was really an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. I have always loved food, but who doesn’t? I’ve worked in delis, and I do love making sandwiches, but my first cooking job…I was terrible. I got my butt kicked. What I can say is that I grew up in Jersey, and my grandfather had a garden where we could pick our food. That doesn’t mean I knew then that I was going to be a chef, but that’s one of my oldest and fondest memories.

Q: And how do you blend that tradition with the new?

AT: We try to keep our Jersey roots as much as possible. We have a lot of East Coast swagger.

LO: I’m from Texas, so I try to balance their so-called swagger with a little old fashioned southern hospitality.

Q: What are you currently inspired by?

JK: Right now I am incredibly inspired by my guys in the kitchen. I’ve worked in a lot of situations where the kitchen is either big/small/over-funded/under- funded, but here, my staff is into the food. They work hard, and that’s inspiring.

Q: What about other types of cuisines? How do they influence The Roost’s menu?

JK: Most of my roots are French and Italian, but I would say more so, our menu is inspired by the seasons. When the seasons change, so does produce, and in effect our menu has to.

Q: What would your last meal be?

JK: It depends. We will see when that day comes. It’s all about how you’re feeling.

Q: Do you have a comfort food?

JK: Down home BBQ or pizza and beer. AT: A cold cut Jersey sandwich.

Q: What’s one thing that you’ve seen other restaurants do that you vow you will never do at The Roost?

AT: In a nutshell, inattention and carelessness to detail. It’s all the little things that make a place perfect.

The Roost at LA Farm
3000 Olympic Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404
310.449.4000

 

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