544 S Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Dining date: 7/25/12
Recently, we welcomed a couple of new team members at work. To celebrate the addition, a group of us went out to dinner downtown. Given that many of my co-workers enjoyed Water Grill the last time we went, it was a fairly easy choice for a return visit. This would be my second visit since the remodel (the first visit was captured gorgeously by gastronomyblog), in which the restaurant closed from Dec.-Jan. to change its look. What resulted was a more open layout with a clear view of the kitchen; I think they succeeded in making the restaurant appear less stuffy and a little more approachable.
For such a classy establishment, I was surprised to see they served beers by the pitcher. They had a brief but good beer list, highlighted by Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. Sculpin by the pitcher? Score!
Coincidentally, it was dineLA restaurant week, $45 for 3 courses. I thought it was a pretty good price point; about half of us ordered this menu with the rest going a la carte.
CRISFIELD, MARYLAND BLUE CRAB CAKE
The crab cake was pretty well done with a crispy crust and sweet, moist crab meat. A little bit of heat permeated the crab, making for some pretty delicious bites.
KONA KAMPACHI TARTARE japanese mustard, green apple
This tartare was a little bland and the texture seemed a bit on the mushier side. Mustard and green apple tried to spruce up the kampachi, but I don’t think it was enough.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER manila clams, applewood smoked bacon
I don’t think this recipe has changed much throughout my visits, something I consider a good thing. The soup was rather light with more of a milky, broth-like consistency with tasty plump clams. Tender carrots and potatoes, as well as smokey bacon rounded out the flavors.
FRITTO MISTO mixed fried seafood with smokey marinara and tzatziki
I had high hopes for a fried seafood platter here at Water Grill. Filled with fish, shrimp, squid and zucchini, this one fell far short. The seafood was overcooked (making for some particularly chewy squid) and the batter felt somewhat uneven. The zucchini was the highlight of the dish, with its juicy, flavorful interior.
WILD BAJA CALIFORNIA YELLOWTAIL blackened with sweet curried cauliflower
This was a denser fish with a fishier taste, cooked well. The blackening spices provided a good depth of flavor as well as a bit of spice. The sweet cauliflower was a nice pairing, counteracting the spice and richness of the fish.
WILD MORROW BAY KING SALMON pan sauteed with asparagus chutney, raw asparagus salad
WILD CALIFORNIA WHITE SEABASS roasted herb quinoa, grilled macerated peaches
My coworker Andrew, who eats at his fair share of restaurants in seafood-centric Seattle, found the seabass a little overcooked. I had to agree; the dense fish was still fairly moist but not as much as it could’ve been. Still enjoyable though, particularly with the sweetness of the peaches and the earthy quinoa accompaniments.
Three desserts were available off the dineLA menu, and we were able to try all three.
WHITE MINT FUDGE PARFAIT crispy cocoa
KEY LIME PIE pomegranate seeds
CARAMEL BREAD PUDDING alaea sea salt
The key lime pie was fairly standard, perhaps in a good way. There was an interesting ice cream alongside, the flavor of which I couldn’t place. The sundae-like parfait had nice chocolate and mint flavors with texture from the cocoa. My favorite of the trio was the bread pudding with croissant and brioche breads being used in the warm, moist dessert. Really comforting and not overly sweet. The cold ice cream was a welcome contrast, as was the rich salted caramel flavor. Quite nice.
There were a number of ups-and-downs in this meal but overall I thought it was pretty good. However, given the price point of a typical meal here, I’d expect more…a similar sentiment to some past meals. Still, for a seafood-centric meal on the company’s tab (or maybe just a pitcher of beer), Water Grill’s probably not a bad way to go.