The Forkin’ Awesome Hospitality Group opened its newest restaurant in March under the auspices of chef Brad Miller, who for the past four years has been the executive chef at the Inn of the Seventh Ray. The restaurant’s menu features small plates and big flavors. We sat down with Managing Partner Mark Mittleman to discuss the restaurant, which was inspired by Miller’s father’s nickname, Ox.
The Daily Meal: In a nutshell, what is the concept?
Ox & Son: Seasonally inspired, elevated comfort food.
What inspired the concept?
Owner Mark Verge is a lifelong resident of Santa Monica; Mark’s family roots date back five generations to the Marquez Rancho days. He was raised in a large Irish-Catholic family on the north side of Montana Avenue, where they purchased their family home for $12,000. As the creator of FNA restaurant group, he operates a myriad of concepts. Together with executive chef and partner Brad Miller and managing partner Mark Mittleman we decided to create another option for the neighborhood. We strive to be members of our communities and great neighbors.
Are there purveyors or specialty produce that you're going to be serving that you'd like to highlight your relationship with?
Allen Benton (from whom we receive our Benton’s Ham) has some of the best-quality ham we can find for our Benton’s Ham and corn griddle cake.
If you were forced to name one dish that people need to come check out at the restaurant, what would that be? Why is it important and how is it made?
Chicken fried duck confit. It is absolutely phenomenal. As if duck confit wasn’t already amazing, chef Brad has elevated it and cooked it in a traditional fried chicken manner and put it over a bed of house kimchi slaw with shaved pickled vegetables and chile sauce.
Why is the chef passionate about this food?
The restaurant’s name pays homage to executive chef Brad Miller’s father, Gary “Ox” Miller, a butcher from Ottawa, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, who taught Miller the ropes in their family-owned butcher shop from age 15. His love of food developed at an early age and grew into a passion.
Is there a bar program? If so, what is it all about?
Ox & Son offers an assortment of artisanal beer and wine. The beer list is curated by Luke Tabit. The selection includes imported varieties and beers found rarely on draft in Los Angeles, each served in its own specialty glass. The wine list features natural winemakers, including French, Italian, Spanish, and local Californian wines, and are available by the glass, bottle, and half bottle.
What do you want to be known for? What experience are you looking to create for your patrons?
An elevated level of cuisine and service in a casual, fun environment.
What sets you apart from your neighbors or competitors in this location and cuisine?
We are offering something new to our neighborhood. We want to be part of our community and give more options for dining on Montana Avenue.
Do you have an idea in your head of what kind of star-rated restaurant this will be? What star rating are you going for?
We’re looking to create experiences that will be everlasting for our customers — stars don't mean as much to us. Don’t get me wrong, accolades are great, but they aren’t what creates or generates business. We are not here for self-appreciation; we are here to create genuine hospitality and fun for our guests and community.
Who designed your décor? What were you going for with the space and were there any particularly trying obstacles in the process of creating it?
From the dark leather upholstered chairs to the wood-bound, granite-accented hostess stand, each item of furniture was custom designed by Bradford Lawson to give the space a modern-yet-rustic ambience that complements the elevated comfort-food cuisine.