Neighborhood Gems: Rustic Canyon

Jeremy Fox is at your service in Santa Monica

Last month, Tasting Table asked readers for their favorite neighborhood gems. Now we're introducing the winning picks.

Oh, what we wouldn't give to live within a few blocks of Rustic Canyon.

The wait staff is pleasant and prompt, the list of wines by the glass long and intriguing, and the seasonal menu ebbs and flows weekly with produce culled from the nearby Santa Monica farmer's market.

The Michelin-starred chef working the stoves? Now that's just icing on the proverbial cake.

When Jeremy Fox, formerly of Napa's revered Ubuntu, took over as head chef in early 2013, the cooking jumped from superb–former chefs Evan Funke and Jeremy Strubel were certainly no slouches–to downright extraordinary.

Fox's best dishes are simple and soulful, yet calibrated with the creativity and precision of fine dining. He even has a hashtag for new dishes on his Instagram feed: #SimpleRC.

Petite bites like grilled ciabatta spread with whipped marrow, honey and diced permission ($7) or roasted pee-wee potatoes tossed in velvety Welsh rarebit sauce ($9) are likely to send you sprinting home, aspiring to recreate them in your own kitchen.

But it's hard to go to those lengths when a meal at Rustic Canyon feels like such a comparative bargain. A warming bowl of clam and mussel pozole verde ($16), filled with fat hominy kernels and crunchy tortilla strips, or a plate of sage-rubbed roast chicken with squash spaetzle and brussels sprouts ($27), are pure comfort on a chilly autumn evening.

It's clear Fox is right at home in Santa Monica. Apparently, so are we.

Our Other Favorite Santa Monica Neighborhood Gems: Tar and Roses, Stella Barra PizzeriaHuckleberry and Musha Restaurant.