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Sep 19, 2010 12:14 PM

Disappointed in the SeaVenture Restaurant in Pismo

In the past, I've considered the restaurant in the SeaVenture Hotel in Pismo to be a hidden gem. But, I stopped by for dinner while traveling down the coast last week and found it.... lacking. I wasn't very hungry so opted for a couple of items off the 'small plates' side of the menu. Only available in the bar or the patio. I opted for the patio and enjoyed a nice sunset. Also had a tasty 'martini' of some sort with lemon/citrus vodka and champagne. Tasty, but why is every vodka-based drink these days called a martini?

My real disappointment was with the food. I had steamed mussels which were small and fairly bland. The broth was thin and tasteless. I also had the seared ahi which was refrigerator cold. As if they sear off a bunch ahead of time, and serve it straight out of the chiller. How much longer, or how much more effort would it be to cook to order? Flavor was good, but the temperature was a surprise.

I've had meals there before and been very satisfied. Was it an off night? Did I order the wrong things? Has quality declined over the last couple of years?

Where should I have gone for dinner w/in walking distance of the Pismo pier?

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  1. Mo's BBQ on that main street drag in Pismo for his Philthy Phil ribs, beans and slaw. Then down to HotLix for a bag of coffee salt water taffy for your drive home, and then finally back up the street for your favorite scoops of Doc Burnstein's gelato rich ice cream. You earned it with all the walking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: glbtrtr

      Cracked Crab is good, if you go to Shell Beach, Lido @ the Dolphin Bay Resort and Mirasol @ the Cliffs Resort are top-notch. :)

      Cracked Crab
      751 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

      Cliffs Resort
      2757 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

    2. Rents are high in Pismo which is a casual family destination beach town. There just isn't a market there for more upscale dining. Avila Beach, just north of Shell Beach, has positioned itself as the local trendy/upscale beachside dining market since its redevelopment and makeover. There are several new restaurants in downtown Avila Beach (none of which I have tried) which could use some chowhound coverage. There is also the Gardens of Avila at Sycamore Mineral Springs on Avila Beach Road which has had several good chefs in the past, and is fairly consistent. Lovely location.

      In Pismo, Guiseppi's and Rosa's for OK Italian, Cracked Crab and Steamers for seafood. The Lido is in Shell Beach, really too far to walk, but only about a 5 minute drive away. It gets rave reviews here.

      The Sea Venture is one of King Ventures' properties--the first along the coast--and it was one of the first to serve tapas and a Sunday brunch back in the 80's and 90's which were it's heyday.

      King's properties have been struggling with reduced budgets for the past decade as he bought and leveraged properties. It's not surprising to hear the quality has suffered here, but too bad for a restaurant in such an A+ location.

      Cracked Crab
      751 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

      Sea Venture Restaurant
      100 Ocean View Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

      3 Replies
      1. re: toodie jane

        Hey TJ, what's popped up in Avila? A while back we ate at the Custom House and were underwhelmed.



        Custom House
        404 Front St, Grover Beach, CA 93433

        1. re: PolarBear

          yes, since Custom house was so solid in the old location; since it's moved and then sold, it has gone downhill.

          I have fond memories of the old location. I'd never eaten there, but my first chow date with hubby-to-be was there; we were so distracted by each other we hardly ate a thing--funny! Then a walk out on the pier under a huge harvest moon...well, it doesn't get much better. sigh.

          There are a number of new restaurants among the new buildings/businesses catering to the upscale vacationer in rebuilt downtown AB. Fancy dining isn't on my chow agenda these days, but I should do some sleuthing and report back. Give me a chance to dust off my tiara, and take the Falcon out for a spin--It needs it as much as I do.

          1. re: toodie jane

            Hope you find a place in AB with a swirling mirror ball, TJ.

      2. Thanks for all the tips. Sad to know it wasn't just an off night but I'll take it off my list. I've also heard El Mirador a few doors down from Splashes has pretty good Mexican which I may have to try my next time up....

        I remember Avila before Unocal had to rebuild it and it sounds like the ambiance has changed significantly. I'll have to check it out as well.

        El Mirador
        187 Pomeroy Ave, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bogey153

          AB is nothing like the funky old town I used to remember too -- such a sad disappointment it had to be dug out and rebuilt in such a charmless way. Maybe enough time can restore its old patina. My fondest memory was a cafe with a chalkboard menu and even a lunch counter if my own memory is not now painting this place with too much of a romantic haze. It was probably dirty and run-down, but I still remember how fresh and flavorful my choice was.

          1. re: glbtrtr

            The original Old Custom House location had a short counter and probably a specials board--the main attraction in the 80's and 90's was the back patio with the jungle-y vine covered fencing and the aviary with parrots. All that "island funk" was completely lost in the rebuild down the street. It is high ceilinged and Loud, with a sports bar. Oh yay!

            Another possibility was next door to the original Barbara's By the Sea( a funky old 40's-50's-60's bar with Barbara herself tending bar into her 80's, I believe). Adjoining it was a tiny diner; half dozen counter seats and maybe 3 or 4 two tops along the front window. Narrow as a boxcar. This was the home of the original Pete's Seaside Cafe with wonderful Mexican-kitchen inspired seafood tacos. You could go next door to Barbara's, get a beer and bring it into Pete's. Funk city, but muy delicioso. When Avila Beach started to get torn up, Pete moved into SLO near the Park Hotel in the Railroad district. Pete's Parkside Cafe then sold after several years, and Pete moved out to the Harford Pier in Avila. He sold Pete's Pierside to employees eventually and is now retired. I'm betting you're remembering the original Pete's. Does the bar next door ring a bell? There was an open doorway connecting the two.

            Then there was the biker bar, The Lighthouse, but no lunch counter that I know of.

            Don't think there are any mirrored balls in today's AB (they are going for the Mercedes SL class crowd) but there might have been one in Barbara's!

            I did take the Falcon out yesterday and had a ball. That 289 puts a spring in my "step". I took it to Donut Derelicts, a gathering of old car officiandos that meets every Sat 8 am sharp at the Golden Donut shop on Oak Park Blvd in Pismo--at the OSH shopping center. Cars great, donuts average but fresh, as he has to keep making them to meet demand--some mornings there are 200 cars. Almost everybody buys a donut. He makes good buttermilk bars.

            Pete's Pierside Cafe
            39 Avila Beach Road, Avila Beach, CA 93424