First look: Elevated bar food at Brilliantshine in Santa Monica

You won't find your daddy's bar food at the new Brilliantshire in Santa Monica

Brilliantshine, the highly anticipated bar and restaurant by Julian Cox and Josh Goldman, is now open in Santa Monica. Both Cox and Goldman are well known in the local wine and cocktail scene, managing several bar programs, including Acabar and Belcampo, with their Soigné consulting group.

Goldman (a trained sommelier) previously worked at Bastide, Church & State and ink restaurant (to name a few), while Cox was recently named one of the “Top 10 Mixologists of the Last 10 Years” by Food and Wine magazine.

Located in the former Renee’s Courtyard location on Wilshire Boulevard, the eclectic building (a converted house with several rooms) offers a quirky take on a “coastal saloon.” The unusual name of the bar, Brilliantshine, was a bona fide flea-market find by the owners. Goldman and Cox purchased the large, metal sign after multiple visits and much negotiating at the twice-monthly Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market. It now hangs high behind Edison lights in the courtyard near the main dining room entrance.

Helming the Brilliantshine kitchen is Peruvian chef Richie Lopez. Many of the restaurant’s comfort-driven dishes feature the flavors he cultivated while working under Ricardo Zarate, chef at Mo Chica, Picca and Paiche. The bar-focused menu includes finger-licking chicken wings made with gochujang and aji amarillo, red snapper crudo with white soy sauce and peaches, plus a decadent uni rice dish with lobster. This is definitely not your daddy’s bar food. 

The bar is nestled in the back corner to the right of the main dining room. One of the cocktails on the opening menu, “Rye ‘n Goslings,” is made with Knob Creek rye, El Dorado 12-year rum, Gosling's 151 rum, mint and apricot. Scotch whiskey lovers may want to saddle up to an Auchentoshan cocktail mixed with lemon, Chinese cinnamon, apple and ginger air. There’s also craft beer, wine and sherry.

The restaurant has a fun and cozy vibe, includes 46 seats (20 on the patio), with copper-top tables and antique mirrors and ceiling fans throughout. Vintage "Playboy" cartoons are wallpapered in the men’s washroom, while leading Hollywood heartthrobs, both past and present, watch over the ladies'.

Brilliantshine is open from 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, with weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 451-0045,

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