The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel

With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, dinner at The Penthouse transports you into another world - above Santa Monica, California

I remember my first visit to The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel. I thought it was one of the most beautiful spaces I’d ever experienced.

As the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, it’s almost impossible to have a bad experience in such a beautiful space. So, after not seeing Jem for over a year (our last dinner was the fantastic Leona’s Sushi House in Studio City), I was really happy he picked The Penthouse from my suggestions of places to meet for dinner.

Now, the Huntley and the Penthouse are examples of California Coastal done exceptionally well. From the moment I dropped off my car at valet (validate your ticket at the restaurant for $15 parking for 3 hours) and entered the hotel, I noticed the hotel scent was distinctly sensual. I smelled notes of jasmine and harmonious undertones. The design and color tones of the space was modern luxury.

There is an elevator that whisks you directly to the restaurant, right at the front of the hotel. The best part? It’s a glass elevator that faces West. So, as you ascend, you’re treated to the sight of Santa Monica getting smaller beneath your feet, as the Ocean becomes more expansive on the horizon.

It sets the tone for what greets you upon reaching The Penthouse. The glass elevator opens the door into another world.

I timed our reservation for the maximum impact of the sunset. In my notes, I specifically stated that I wanted a table by the window, with a clear view of the ocean and the area. That is exactly what the restaurant delivered.

After designing our perfect dinner from the menu, we began with an order of the CRISPY RICE (One each of Hawaiian Tuna, Spicy King Salmon, Truffle Wagyu Steak Tartare).

One of reasons I enjoy dining with Jem is the effortless ease we have with ordering, sharing and tasting. Piece by piece, each serving of crispy rice was easy to cut in half and share. Each bite was delicious. I could eat two more orders of just the crispy rice, easily.

I absolutely loved my drink – the HANKY PANKY (Tanqueray London Gin, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, Amaro Fernet Branca, Orange Oil). It had the gin I wanted, with the additional twist of the amaro (with the best Amari selection in Los Angeles being Elf Cafe in Echo Park).

It was a solid choice of cocktail for the evening, as both of our drinks reminded me of the sunset outside of the windows.

We continued with THE PETITE SIGNATURE SEAFOOD TOWER (Wild Shrimp, Oysters, Crab Claws, Clams) with a selection of the CLASSIC MIGNONETTE, BERRY MIGNONETTE, and BASIL SEEDS & KALAMANSI JUICE.

Now, when Jem first suggested The Petite, I was hesitant. I feared it was going to be a Great Value level mess.  However, when it arrived at the table, it was anything but. The platter was delicious and impressively presented. My only issue was that a small seafood fork was not served with the crab claws. This made getting the crab meat from the claws difficult – with more shell pieces than desired making their way to my mouth.

The ROYAL MIYAGI OYSTERS (Pacific Northwest), served with the plater, were exactly the kind of light finish, smaller, smooth tasting oysters I wanted. The shrimp was exceptionally fat and tasty, the mussels were great and the mignonettes were each distinctly delicious.

Next up, was the DUCK DUO À L’ORANGE (Sweet Potato Pave, Five Spice, Kumquat, Blood Orange Jus). I’d been particularly looking forward to this entree, as it had been much too long since I’d enjoyed duck – especially with an orange sauce.

My wait was deliciously well worth it.

The kumquat was the unexpected pleasure of this dish. It was distinct, bright and complemented the blood orange jus well. The dollops of sweet potato pave were scrumptious.

Finishing up our main course selection was the SHORT RIB CAVATELLI (Braised Short Rib, Cherry Tomato, Red Wine Reduction, Gremolata, Parmesan). I could tell that the cavatelli was hand made, which was a delightful detail.

The short rib was cut in small pieces, vs the usual shredded nature that I usually see in a short rib dish. It was savory, with the red wine reduction giving a rich, full palate flavor.

Every ordered dish was outstanding. We were satisfied. But – we wanted just one more thing.

With that, we ordered the PASSIONFRUIT CRÈME BRÜLÉE (Vanilla Bean, Passionfruit, Crunchy Brittle).

When I say this was the piece de resistance of the evening – it was. the passionfruit and kumquat flavors of this dish were oral pleasure. It was actually fun to crack the crunch brittle with our spoons, to get to the delicious vanilla cream base below.

Dinner at The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel was a pleasure for the senses.

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Thinking back, I remember one of my earlier visits to the Penthouse. The idea that a place like this could exist was completely luxurious to me. Stepping into the glass elevator with a former friend, we remarked on how exquisite it felt to be whisked up to the top floor, as the expansive vision of the Pacific Ocean grew on the horizon.

May we both live a glass elevator level life,” I remember I said.

For me, that meant a feeling of personal freedom, inner happiness, savoring the pleasures food and the feeling of thriving and actively creating a physical life I love. The person and I had time at the restaurant. But, it felt inauthentic.


Less than two years later, our friendship ended – as I was close friends with someone she didn’t like – for a reason that was beyond me and didn’t concern me. I was momentarily sad, but “que será, será”.

She unfriended me on Facebook – and then (shocker) attempted to re-friend me some time later, citing she remembered my statement of “glass elevator life” at the Penthouse and how much she missed me.

That’s cute…… but, ghosts can stay dead. Go haunt another graveyard.

Since that last visit, I have connected with  quality friends, a much stronger sense of self and a more refined discernment of who I will eat with and where.


I say all this to remind whoever may read this that it’s okay if you need a little bit more time to bloom into who you are. Just hold on to your vision and surround yourself with people – good people – who see you for who you are and cheer you on as you get to where you’re going. It’s also fine to let go of friendships that no longer serve you. Your rise to the top your own version of personal happiness and success is your own experience.

Because the views from your inner penthouse of your heart, as the sun sets on the horizon?

That’s something you do not want to miss.

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The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel

1111 2nd Street
Santa Monica, California 90403
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