Santa Monica Yacht Club draws its inspiration from the sea, a theme that plays heavily in the decor, food and rum-heavy cocktails.
“Well this is swanky,” I say to my friend as we walk into the restaurant, where golden wood tables and royal blue booths are accented by sea-centric details scattered around the walls: a hanging marlin, anchors, coral and the like.
“It’s called Santa Monica Yacht Club,” he says. “What did you expect?”
True, SMYC sounds a tad pretentious, but the seafood restaurant from chef and owner Andrew Kirschner (Tar & Roses) tries hard to let loose. Our waiter was, for lack of a better word, the chillest, peppering in “right on”s and “totally”s as he explained the menu to us over a soundtrack heavy on the Biebs. The menu has a way of appealing to the masses as well, with avocado toast (upgraded with a smear of sea urchin) and the now-ubiquitous poke plate—though the poke here is a gourmet affair, made with thick cuts of tuna and decorated with seaweed and lotus chips. Chinese long beans are stir fried and spruced up with a sprinkling of bonito flakes, bringing the sea to the garden.
Kirschner’s branzino at Tar & Roses stuck with me long after I tried it there, and thankfully the version at SMYC is just as good—flaky, rich with butter and resting atop slow-cooked carrots and a pool of chimchurri sauce, it’s a dish worth splurging on (at $24, it can satisfy two). It was our favorite dish after a couple others fell flat, like the particularly dry crab cake and a skewer of lamb that, despite a unique side of banana raita (a yogurt-based sauce) and harissa, was bland and lackluster.
A pear ricotta crostata was a nice end to the meal, though the accompanying ramekin of ice cream was even better. But you’d be wise to go straight for the dessert cocktails, like a chai buttered rum that conjurs up deckside lounging and leaves you feeling warm from the inside out. The ocean may be less than a mile away, but sometimes all it takes is a stiff drink to make you feel like a pirate.
What to Eat: The albacore tuna poke ($14). The grilled branzino ($24). The Chinese long beans ($9).
What to Drink: The absence of a Dark & Stormy on SMYC’s naturical-themed cocktail menu is a little surprising, though there are plenty of other oceanic-sounding beverages: Relations by the Bay, Redbeard, El Matador. More landlocked is the Brooklynite, a smooth creation that mixes Hamilton Jamaican rum, angostura bitters and honey, a light foam settling on the top that reminds you of a residual wave. Beer and wine are available too, along with housemade sodas and Mexican Coke and Sprite.
Where to Sit: On a warm evening, the outdoor patio allows for the faint smell of ocean to really set the scene. Inside, you'd be wise to ask for a booth even if you're just planning on cocktails and a couple plates; the backless seating at the bar is not the most comfortable.
|Venue name:||Santa Monica Yacht Club (CLOSED)||Contact:|
620 Santa Monica Blvd
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 5:30-10:30pm; Sun 5:30-9:30pm|
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