Nestled inside Hotel Casa Del Mar with stunning, uninterrupted ocean views is Catch, whose kitchen is consistently cooking up superb seafood, not just for hotel guests.
While brunch along this sunny stretch of Santa Monica has been left to Shutters next door, Catch can win over the sunset dinner crowd with its elevated clean-lined dining room overlooking the beach and Ocean Front Walk below.
The menu, fittingly, emphasizes fresh, local seafood, and although execution sometimes falters, a very good depth of flavor is consistently achieved. The Big Eye Tuna with shaved fennel, toasted pine nuts, and crispy polenta spears is a favorite, with the salty freshness of the rare fish balanced by the nuttiness of the toasted pine nuts. While the polenta seems a bit arbitrary, it's impossible to not finish the light and airy fried bits. The Mustard Marinated California Black Cod with green and yellow pole beans and fingerling potatoes is another fresh and comfortable option, even if it doesn't quite push any boundaries.
The small and sharing plates make an excellent one or two appetizers, particularly the Grilled Octopus with potatoes, spanish paprika, and smoked olive oil, perfectly cooked and tender. The Crispy Artichokes edge on subtle innovation from a classic, with black olive dust, lemon, and mint adding a little edge to the creamy, mild green flavor.
Service is experienced and knowledgeable about the menu, always willing to offer a friendy comment, but the setting inside an opulent beachfront hotel is the ultimate reason to visit. With a romantic, lounge-like atmosphere perfect for couples or small groups that want to appreciate a spectacular Santa Monica sunset, Catch will not disappoint.