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Ocean Ave. Seafood. . .worth it?

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I'm trying to plan a graduation dinner on a tight schedule and I need a great seafood place in Santa Monica. All of my guests have been to The Lobster, so we're looking to venture out. We need to stay in SaMo because of timing. Is Ocean Ave. Seafood worth it? I've been to Water Grill so I'm hoping it's on the same level.

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  1. If you're expecting Water Grill quality food, then you will be disappointed. Ocean Ave. has a nice view of the ocean and decent food, but that's about it. In fact, last time I was there I got the shrimp cocktail and the shrimp were those little tiny shrimp that come in cans! Maybe this was just because it was the happy hour menu, but it's still pretty shameful for any seafood restaurant to serve that. I probably wouldn't go there for anything other than happy hour, where at least the food and drinks are decently priced and they have some good oyster specials.

    Are you completely determined to have it be a seafood meal?

    1. What about Catch at Casa Del Mar? Ocean Ave Seafood is nowhere near the same level as Water Grill.

      1. No. It's basic-to-boring food. No real attention to execution. Absolutely no comparison to the water grill.

        1. Try ICugini...I love the branzino!

          2 Replies
          1. re: chica

            I too love i Cuigini and have yet to try Ocean Ave, largely due to their proximity. However, I know that the manager of i Cuigini, a truly hospitable gent named Chris, was recently made general mgr of Ocean Ave. One would assume that his transfer and promotion was made in order to bring OA up to par with its neighboring, sister restaurant. Now that I know Chris is down the block, overseeing the wine list and spit-polishing the service, I am much more likely to think of OA as competition to iC. Hopefully, King's Seafood is upping their game.

            1. re: bodie

              i know chris and im sure he'll make a difference over there...however, i would say if youre looking for the best in samo.. dont hit ocean ave. it isnt the best, but its good. lobster taquitos if they still have em are insane. ceaser salad good, stuffed shrimp (if they still have are great), most of the salmons and entree fishes are good.. the food overall is just hit and miss. what about BOA?

          2. I have been dining at this location for about three years now and the restaurant at least is consistant. The food is good and priced appropriately, but basic and uninspiring. I have dined at the Water Grill before and there is no comparison. The service is fine, but nothing special. The two best things about the restaurant is the atmosphere and the wine list. It is a place I love to bring out of town guests and family members here b/c of the view of the coast - which is quite a novelty to family from the mid-west. If you are looking to impress a wine lover like myself or business associates, the offerings have improved into one of the best lists in town despite not being a volume of over-the-top expensive wine like some of the other fine dining restaurants in the area. For a graduation dinner though, I would go to i Cugini down the street. It's more of a fun and youthful atmosphere and the food just seems to be built to feed larger groups. Maybe it's an Italian Food stereotype?

            In comparison to the Lobster, I enjoy dining at Ocean better. The attitude at Ocean is just a touch more casual and doesn't feel stuffy at all. Very similar restaurants though.

            My most recent visit though, I dined at Ocean for Mother's Day and was extremely disappointed that a Mother's Day Brunch Buffet was not offered as in previous years.

            2 Replies
            1. re: WineHog

              Yes, I too have noticed the wine list is exceptional. The list is compact, unique, and full of rare and hard to find wines that the geeks will recognize and eventually flock to when the word gets out. Extremely affordable as well considering that other restaurants will charge $15-$20 more on the same bottle. A post above notes a new GM. If he's is doing the wine list now, he is doing an amazing job. The wine list has gotten better exponentially over the past year. It was average to good a year or two ago. Now it is a knockout.

              1. re: BigTimeFoodie

                I think wine lovers are already starting to notice. Myself and my own 'wine geek' circle visit semi-regularly when we would like to drink a wine none of us can aquire on our own.

            2. Ocean Avenue Seafood is totally worth it. Don't even compare it to Water Grill. They are completely different styles of dining. I've been going to Ocean Avenue Seafood for years and they are by far the best seafood restaurant in Santa Monica. Service is great and food is consistent. Ocean Avenue Seafood is completely worth it. They are also part of the King's Seafood Company which has many great restaurants including I Cugini Italian Seafood, also in Santa Monica.

              2 Replies
              1. re: everyonesacritic1

                I have to report back on my experience there on Mother's Day where we took my little brother who was visiting from out of town. We stopped at the bar for happy hour but were told that there's no happy hour on holidays which is understandable. Less understandable was why it took at least 15 minutes to get any kind of service sitting at one of the bar tables, even menus or an acknowledgement that we were there. We opted to share the 2 person seafood tower and it was really disappointing. The oysters were the saltiest I have ever tasted and the meat inside the crab leg was dry and overcooked. My bloody mary was one of the most bizarre versions of the drink I've ever seen, almost like a brown gazpacho with lots of large pieces of unidentified herbs. I love the location and have had better luck with the food than we did Sunday, but I still don't think I'll be going back any time soon. There are just too many other good restaurants in Santa Monica.

                1. re: everyonesacritic1

                  I agree with this sentiment. It's a solid American seafood restaurant, but not in the league of Water Grill. I had my own graduation dinner here (if this is UCLA, it nearly always coincides with Father's Day so there'll be some kind of set meal or raw bar offering), and have eaten here on other occasions for happy hour and dinner. Food is best when the dishes are simple and not futsing too much with the fresh seafood. I'd go with their wild king salmon in dried cherry sauce, king crab legs, and oysters.