With the shuttering of Renee's, Westsiders mourned the beloved, neighborhood dive. What came next was a brief stint of short rib tacos and burritos.
In the Santa Monica space's third resurrection, Julian Cox and Josh Goldman take over with a beachside saloon now christened Brilliantshine.
Cox, of course, is the bartender behind Sotto, Petty Cash, Picca, Rivera and many more. (If you see a menu of house-made sodas and bitters, chances are Cox masterminded it.) So it comes as no surprise that cocktails have a special place here.
Left to right: Richie Lopez, Julian Cox and Josh Goldman | Photos: Courtesy of Brilliantshine
The drinks, divided into such categories as "Shaken" and "Aromatic," are thoughtful without being overthought. Begin with Rome with a View ($10)—a light, refreshing aperitif of Campari, dry vermouth and soda, garnished with a lime wheel and candy cane-striped straw—to get the night going. The tiny bar, lined with a few stools and manned by a meticulous barman, also offers some beers on tap and wines divided by sparkling, light, medium and rich.
The food deserves mention, too. Typical pub grub is upgraded with global flavors: Korean gochujang-spiced chicken wings ($12) share the menu with moules frites ($16) studded with house-made chorizo. If you're one for theatrics, uni and scallops crudo ($26) arrive to the table with a mist of dry ice of uni snow and uni oil.
Chef Richie Lopez draws from his Peruvian roots with ingredients such as rocoto (a fiery pepper) and indigenous choclo and cancha (both corn). Shrimp ceviche ($11) mixes chunks of the crustacean with large kernel cancha in a bright tang of citrus topped with sweet potato chips. Maine lobster rice ($21) is coated with sea urchin, chives and lime, while velvety squid ink tagliatelle ($18) is tossed with Littleneck clams, bottarga, lamb sausage and rocoto butter.
Everything about Brilliantshine, from the food to the drinks to the candle lit outdoor patio, is elevated but not too swanky. This is a neighborhood gem that could burn brightly for a long time.
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