A SANTA MONICA INSTITUTION SINCE 1925
The foot of the famed Santa Monica Pier is home to local institution The Lobster, a one-time popular “seafood shack” that has become a thriving Mecca for fine dining offering stunning 180° panoramic views of the pier, as well as the Pacific and Palisades Park—particularly spectacular at sunset.
The original Lobster opened its doors back in 1923 and nearly 20 years later dishwasher Mateo Castillo worked his way up to owner, establishing The Lobster as a local “seafood shack” that delighted locals throughout the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s. Today, now under new ownership, The Lobster stands renovated, expanded and improved where Executive Chef Collin Crannell uses the freshest ingredients in a simple yet elegant way. Early in his career, Crannell was praised by Los Angeles Magazine as a “master in the making,” and the proof is in his kitchen’s delectable dishes.
The Lobster menu offers classic American Seafood, featuring whole live Maine lobsters.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with cocktails at sunset. The Ginger-Honey Rye with Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey, orange blossom, honey, blood orange bitters and Bundaberg ginger beer, proved tasty and was a pleasant companion during a beautiful SoCal sunset.
The Thai 1 On cocktail, made with muddled basil, jalapeño and limes, with a splash of Bundaberg ginger beer, is complex to the taste as there’s a lot going on, perhaps too much action all at once.
Our seafood bonanza began with the Thai Inspired Grilled California Albacore with coconut lime, spicy cucumber and roasted peanuts with micro mint and basil paired with a lovely glass of Reisling. This is a particularly light and fresh starter.
The Crispy Maryland Soft Shell Crab with Murray Farm’s Rainier Cherry Mostarda, mustard seed oil and baby kale is another delicious appetizer. It’s fun to share small plates at The Lobster as it allows you to work your way down the impressive menu.
Two other fine dishes were the Sautéed Tiger Prawns prepared with brandy, garlic, shallots, Italian herbs and shrimp butter with toasted ciabatta, and the adventurous Scallops with Pork Belly (an absolute pleasure). Pair these with a nice glass of white wine and your taste buds will thank you.
While the dinner menu includes tasty seafood selections such as Pistachio Crusted Fiji Mahi Mahi; Pan Roasted Wild California King Salmon; and Pan Roasted California Seabass, other eye-catching alternatives include the Grilled 14 oz. Kurobuta Pork Chop; Grilled 12 oz. American Kobe NY “Steak & Frites” and the Pan Seared 8 oz. Angus Filet Mignon—non meat-eaters can go with the Vegetable Linguine Pasta. But we simply had to go with the famous lobster. How could we not?
The 2.5 lb Grilled American Lobster, prepared with fresh herbs, lemon and garlic butter, proved bountiful to say the least. Light and fresh, this is a killer plate. And a hearty side of the decadent Lobster Mashed Potatoes is an absolute must. This dish is so tasty it rivaled every other item as our favorite selection, but come on, let’s be honest, it’s all about the lobster—with a side of lobster mashed potatoes and a glass of white wine. Talk about a feast fit for a king!
Dessert was pushing the bounds of good reason but at this point, why not? The Warm Chocolate Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Corn was decadently delicious. I love the original touch of adding caramel corn—a personal favorite of mine. And the Pudwill Farms Berries with yogurt mousse, lavender cake, strawberry reduction handmade ice cream and sorbet really hit the spot. You may be better off saving some and skipping dessert, unless you really have an out of control sweet tooth (guilty as charged) to make sure you save room for the Lobster Mashed Potatoes.
With its beautiful setting and unpatrolled views, fantastic food and world class wines, The Lobster is really what makes California, especially stunning Santa Monica, a must-see for travelers, and a dining gem for locals who know better.
The Lobster is located at 1602 Ocean Ave at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica. Open daily from 9:30 am to 9:30pm, except Friday and Saturday when the close at 10:30pm. Call 310-458-9294. Reservations highly recommended.
By: Jose Martinez
Some photography courtesy of The Lobster