Water Grill has taken over the Ocean Avenue Seafood space on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. The new look reminds me of a east coast seafood eatery with wooden interior and large open windows facing towards the beach. The place is already bustling with customers all looking for a fresh seafood meal.
The menu starts with a raw seafood page which includes every kind of shellfish and crudo you can imagine. The oysters, mussels and clams are offered by 1/2 dozen or dozen and the variety is tremendous with both west and east coast choices present. Towers of seafood are flowing through the new space with large ice bins filled with whole fish in the back of the restaurant.
The appetizers are also abundant with fresh crab cakes, poke and a few non-seafood options like fresh ricotta with greens and grilled bread. Both the Tuna Poke with a hint of spice and the creamy Ricotta were delicious.
As for salads the Caesar was refreshingly delicious with a oil based dressing with anchovy as opposed to your traditional creamy Caesar. The beet salad and pear with walnuts looked just as fresh with mounds of greens and in season produce.
For entrees – whole fish, filets and a small section of meats were offered. The King Salmon, soon to disappear, was perfectly cooked with a crispy interior and soft center. The asparagus chutney was quite innovative but, the asparagus salad was simply a garnish and not a side dish.
The Chilean Seabass was thickly cut and seared nicely but, again the Sweet Potato Gnocchi was minuscule in comparison. The dessert, Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Ice Cream, is always one of the best things at Water Grill. This thick square of soaked bread and baked to perfection wonder is most delightful downtown or in Santa Monica.
Water Grill is definitely a nice replacement of the tired Ocean Avenue Seafood Restaurant and I am sure its popularity will only increase with time. However, the pricing is quite high and the a la carte options like side dishes are definitely required.