To say that I saw the promise in a Santa Monica IHOP would be revisionist history. Thankfully, vaunted chef Joe Miller (Joe’s and Bar Pintxo) and seasoned restaurateur Lawrence Rudolph (Gonzo American Food Corp) had genuine foresight when they flipped the chain’s hospital adjacent outpost at the base of a Best Western into Rudy & Hudson this spring.
Miller and Rudolph honor their late grandfathers, “two straight-forward, uncomplicated men who dreamed big,” with a modern California diner with two-toned grey booths, jukebox photo murals, a wall of colorful red, black and green lips, and a jam-packed pastry case.
I’ve enjoyed plenty of skillful takes on comfort food classics during the course of two visits to Rudy & Hudson, none better than three variations on Dutch baby, a puffy pancake that takes 20 minutes to bake in an iron skillet. I enjoyed the sweet version with wildflower honey, powdered sugar, and a generous dollop of lemon ricotta. They also sell a dessert-like Dutch baby with sliced apples, white raisins, and a dusting of cinnamon. Still, I’m all about the savory Dutch baby ($10.75) with tender braised kale, crispy bacon, and sharp aged cheddar.