108 W Channel Road
Santa Monica, CA 90402
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Quaint, sophisticated and all-around tasteful, Mason is nothing short of prodigious.
Los Angeles-born-and-raised, longtime friends and founders of The h.wood Group, John Terzian and Brian Toll, work together to specialize in upscale nightlife and restaurant concepts. The two are well known for West Hollywood hotspots Bootsy Bellows and Delilah.
But the duo had their start on Channel Road in Santa Monica, transforming a small space into their seaside nautical lounge, SHOREbar.
“The whole time we knew that area in the canyon as our baby, as a starting place,” Terzian told the Palisadian-Post.
And, after successfully securing a spot right next to SHOREbar in 2018, Mason was born.
The restaurant concept drew inspiration from Terzian and Toll’s restaurant The Nice Guy in West Hollywood, as well as the infamous Rao’s in New York.
The destination is reservation-only, and securing a table might be at the hand of the table owner.
“You’re a table owner, you have a table and that gets you your reservation,” Terzian explained. “You choose your night and that’s your table, and you could either use it, you could leave it empty, you can have it entertaining for friends.
“If there’s a table available, we seat them. If there isn’t, then we call the table owner’s trustees and if the trustees are not using the table, we seat them.”
Terzian added that this creates an amicable atmosphere where there are familiar faces and guests feel that they are being well taken care of.
And the interior design accentuates the concept well. Catching dinner at Mason feels like eating in the den of a home—which Terzian explained is intentional—with dark wood, vintage photographs looming on the walls and antique, dim lighting.
The menu, embellished with a light to help read it, offers delicacies from 30-day, dry-aged steaks to classic comfort foods, like cheeseburgers.
Chef de cuisine David Johns started off by serving the Persimmon Salad, a newer addition to the menu. As someone who usually dreads salads, I was surprised to find myself serving heapfuls after the first bite.
This salad was a combination of deliciously indescribable textures and flavors: fresh-cut persimmon on a bed of castelfranco radicchio with smoked prosciutto and curried pistachio-crumble.
This salad was undeniably the star of the show—and it was just the beginning.
We moved on to two appetizers: Spiced Prawns, meaty Caledonian prawns in a flavorful Filipino-cajun sauce, and Pigs in a Blanket, savory, wagyu beef hotdogs enveloped in a warm, flaky puff pastry—Terzian’s favorite item off the menu.
Following those flavorful dishes, I was presented with Steak Frites (French for “steak and fries”) and Salmon. Both proteins were so unbelievably melt-in-your-mouth tender, and that’s no exaggeration.
The steak was a perfect measure of rare, accompanied by a mound of thick-cut fries. Meanwhile the salmon had a crispy, seared top and sat on gribiche, an emulsified sauce with finely diced hard boiled egg. The salmon was complemented by slices of grilled Persian cucumbers.
Throughout my meal I also had two beverages, of which I chose from Mason’s signature cocktail menu.
The first was The Jojo, a 2012 SHOREbar creation and the h.wood Group’s first signature cocktail. The drink combines Absolut Elyx Vodka, strawberry, rose water, St-Germain (a type of elderflower liqueur), lemon and Prosecco. A dangerously tasty choice because its sweet blend of flavors mask any hint of alcohol.
I also relished in The Benevolent, an espresso martini made with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Averna, cold brew coffee, egg white and mole bitters. As a self-proclaimed, coffee-aficionado, I was immediately drawn to this drink and enjoyed every last sip.
Right when I thought it couldn’t get any better (and that I couldn’t scarf down another bite), I was served warm, freshly baked, gooey chocolate chip cookies to top off the night.
Ultimately, Mason was a five-star treat. I highly recommend Palisadians head down Chautauqua and try this gem—just be sure to call for a reservation first.