Right on the beach in Santa Monica on the first floor of the Casa del Mar Hotel. Get there early and have a drink at the hotel bar, with its floor to ceiling windows looking out on the sand and sea. The experience begins the moment you enter the building. You’ll walk through a lobby that feels like a 1930s movie set. I half expect to find Bogart, or Bacall, or Charles Boyer sitting at a table. There’s a plentiful selection of bar food to go along with very well mixed drinks.
But what you really want to do after downing a martini, or perfect Manhattan or some other favorite, is take the few steps to Catch. It’s like walking through a time machine – out of the throw-back bar and into a modern, sleek restaurant. Many tables overlook the beach.
Until recently, Catch was a seafood house. There were beef, chicken and pork dishes offered. But the menu featured seafood, with plenty of crudo and a sushi bar. Now, the menu has shifted to feature a number of “not so big plates” for sharing; “small salads”; “big salads”; “bigger plates” that include pastas, fish, veal, lamb, chicken, and a burger; and “second mortgage plates” that include steaks and Maine lobster risotto. An array of sushi, sashimi and rolls still appears on the menu. The food is solid, the experience is greatly enhanced by the ambiance – there’s a whole ocean right outside the window. And the night can be topped off with a short walk back to the throwback bar for a nightcap.