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photo credit: Jakob Layman

Rémy Martin
9.0

Pasjoli

French

Santa Monica

$$$$Perfect For:Business MealsDate NightSpecial Occasions
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Pasjoli is a fancy French restaurant with all the baggage that comes with the genre. A palm-sized onion tart costs $25. Polished servers make you feel proper via osmosis. Butter is mandated by law. 

These details might point to an outdated Santa Monica restaurant robbing people who are too rich to care about wine bottle markups. But eat the pressed duck for two, drink a 2016 Bordeaux, and the proof is in the (duck leg bread) pudding. Pasjoli backs up the traditional French schtick with technique and care. A night here is the best indulgence money can buy on the Westside. 

Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Pasjoli image
Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Pasjoli image
Pasjoli image
Pasjoli image
Pasjoli image
Pasjoli image

The most French thing about this menu—apart from the fact that substitutions are politely declined—is its lineup of animal fat. Ingredients sway traditional, but the execution makes things like chicken liver mousse suddenly seem sexy. Circles of this rich spread sit inside slices of brioche-like keyholes. In the steak tartare, dry-aged beef is cut with nasturtium pesto and sharp horseradish. What appears to be a plump, fatty sausage is really a deboned quail brightened up with blackberry jus. But nothing on the menu compares to Pasjoli's pressed duck.  

The demolition of this duck carcass tells you everything you need to know about Pasjoli's food as a whole. It's elaborate, showy, and genuinely delightful. For roughly $200, you and another person split a multi-course celebration of all things quack. First, the chef invites you to the kitchen pass to watch him squeeze Daffy in what looks like a medieval torture device. Then he uses the juices to create cognac gravy right in front of you, like a Costco food demo with a Marvel budget. Once you return to your seats, you're served a simple but perfect pile of lettuce topped with the bird's crispy skin, and a plate of duck leg meat baked into a bread pudding. Somehow you'll be expected to go home and continue living every day knowing that meals this spectacular are by no means the norm.

As deluxe as the duck press may be, Pasjoli's space is otherwise unremarkable. The brick-walled dining room blurs in the background, neither adding to nor detracting from the experience in any way. There's no valet service. Instead, you'll hunt for a parking meter on Main Street Santa Monica as tipsy UCLA students walk into an Irish pub. Rest assured, servers still wear uniforms and take their jobs seriously. Courses fade in and out before you have time to pick out the duck skin between your teeth. Each dish comes with a little TED Talk on what's in front of you or maybe why the kitchen uses a wooden stick (not a metal one) to bake a hole in the brioche before stuffing it with chicken liver mousse. We're talking fancy, not gaudy. That's the energy here.

Unless you come for a cocktail and a bathroom break, you're not leaving Pasjoli without spending at least $100 per person, and more if you get the duck. But we’d happily dish out our own, non-professional money here for a special occasion. When done right, there will always be a place for buttery, showy French food. No need to reinvent the wheel every time. 

Food Rundown

Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Foie De Poulet À La Strasbourgeoise

Delicate brioche meets the iron punch of chicken liver mousse. It's a hot meet-and-greet. The side of sweet shallot and truffle jam makes every element taste even stronger. Lay it on thick.

Tartare

For once, a tartare’s gray-brown color is a good sign. The minced beef is dry-aged and loaded with morsels of fat. All of that gets reigned in by sharp horseradish and a nasturtium pesto that brings a bright, peppery heat we love.
Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Tarte Aux Oignons

Think of this as a rich French onion soup that pays rent to live inside a golden, buttery crust. The filling is sweet, cheesy, and slightly vinegary.

Bœuf

A phenomenal 14-day dry-aged 8-ounce hanger steak (there's also a 30-day dry-aged hanger steak and a 18-ounce bone-in New York strip). A butter knife could slice through it. And the sauce périgueux tastes like the lovechild of gravy and dessert wine.

Caille

This quail probably had bigger dreams than being turned into a sausage. Alas, it makes for a very good sausage lightened up with tangy blackberry jus. The inside cuts like a snappy wiener while the outer skin is silky.
Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Canard À La Rouennaise À La Presse

If you’re doing this multi-course duck dinner, don’t order anything else. It’s more than enough food and also the best thing Pasjoli serves. In addition to tickets to the duck press show, you'll get two sliced breasts with savory-tart cognac sauce made from the bird’s juices, a gorgeous salad with a simple vinaigrette and crispy duck skin and meat, and a rich duck bread pudding.
Pasjoli image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Soufflé Au Chocolate

This classic desserts takes 30 minutes to come out, and it's absolutely worth waiting around for. It’s light and airy, but still intense in dark chocolate flavor. There's no better way to end a heavy meal than with a bitter little kiss.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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