The best restaurant in Venice Beach is arguably Axe. For so many reasons.
LOS ANGELES – When Axe closed for nearly a year due to a kitchen fire, a quiet wailing could be heard around Venice Beach on Sunday mornings as locals mourned the temporary loss of their hallowed nine-grain pancake. (Or maybe it was just a seagull lost on Abbot Kinney?)
Patiently we waited for chef Joanna Moore’s temple of seasonality to rise from the ashes so we could find redemption once again in her virtuous salmon rice bowls. When it finally reopened — with equal parts excitement and trepidation over a new menu — the old Axe looked and tasted very much the same as the old Axe. Phew.
For those of us who do not attend church or any other religious institution, Axe feels like a fitting Sunday substitute. There’s a monastic quality to the restaurant: its neutral hues, austere tables and benches, the earthy scent of incense. And then, of course, there’s the food, which both comforts and edifies with its rustic simplicity. You can taste Moore’s devotion to sustainability in everything from a carafe of ginger water to a soul-warming bowl of vegetable soup. Even if I indulge, I never feel like like a sinner after eating there.
Since opening in 1999 on a then-desolate stretch of Abbot Kinney (it actually started in Santa Monica back in 1990), Axe has been a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement in Los Angeles. As such, it has always drawn a bohemian, in-the-know crowd. On any given Sunday, you might be seated next to a couple of surfers fresh from the beach or Brooke Shields. It’s also one of the first eateries to preach the gospel of Heath Ceramics. I’ll admit, I’m often tempted to make off with the Dolores Delarios bowls. I just haven’t figured out how.
If you don’t have a reservation, the wait can be long but one of the best parts of the restaurant’s rebirth is the addition of takeout items. Now you can buy a 32-ounce paper container of nine-grain pancake batter, as well as almond milk, homemade breads, jams, salad dressings, and more: all the sacred ingredients for creating a perfect Sunday brunch at home. Hallelujah. Amen.
1009 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291