I’ve been wanting to try Blue Stove in Nordstroms at the new Santa Monica Mall since they opened, but with the holidays and then the gift return season, I have avoided going to any mall for a few months.

Since the entire menu is small bites, you can taste as many dishes as you would like in true tapas style. Most items are about $10 with a few of the heartier plates like the braised short rib or lump meat crab cakes at about $15. I opted for the clams with pasta and chorizo as my first plate. It was a very tasty take on the clams and chorizo combination, although it was a bit rich.

I asked my very efficient server Lisa which of the other seafood options she would choose as a second plate and after hearing the salt and pepper calamari included the tentacles (yeah!) I chose it. It was a generous serving, very crunchy and tender, but the bottom of the plate belied the greasiness of this dish because it had a coating of residual frying oil.

I ordered a crisp glass of Chardonnay from France to cut the richness of both plates and was delighted to find my total bill with two plates and a glass of wine was only about $32 including tax and a 20% tip. My waitress Lisa gave me a helpful tip in return for my explanation of how Open Table works; if you eat at any restaurant in the Santa Monica Mall, use the Valet parking because a restaurant validation will give you FREE parking for THREE hours instead of the two that come free with self-parking!

The best tips are mutual!

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