Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Bar Fly - The Lounge at Casa Del Mar

A gremlin ate my computer last week, causing me to be offline for an insanely long time. I am back now, and super happy about it. I am now trying to get used to a laptop (yea me) that seems to have a little bit of a mind of its own.

Here now is the post I had all set and ready before the big crash. Better late than never though, right?

There is something so good and so right about spending a beautiful afternoon with your two favorite girlfriends drinking, eating and laughing the day away. Based on a challenge brought to the food blogging world by Sarah at Delicious Life, that I felt obliged -- compelled really -- to comply with -- I set off with my accomplices, B. McGee and Legs LaRue.

The challenge was to go eat at a bar. Now lets face facts, the only part of that that truly counts as a challenge was narrowing it down to just one bar. So what did we do? Think big. Big and bold and fab and delish. The choice was obvious. The luxurious Lounge at
Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.

After an interesting valet experience, we seated our selves up on tall stools at the bar in the center of the huge lobby area, with a view of the sparkling bay.

A large bowl of incredibly crisp and perfectly salty potato chips were continually refilled while we pondered our leather bound menu. For drinks, Legs went with her (now) usual glass of tequila, McGee had a martini and with the divine weather I decided on amazingly tasty mix of limeade, soda and vodka served in a tall glass with a sugar rim offered on the cocktail menu. Mmmm.

The disclaimer I will toss in now is that the prices at this swank place do seem high, but the ambiance, service and overall fantabulousness make it worth the splurge.

Choosing from an ethnically eclectic menu, we set upon four dishes that seemed to span the globe (at least the Asian part of the globe.) and sounded tasty and placed our order with the dishy bartender. We then moved to some of the many large leather lounge chairs by the (unlit) fire and everything was promptly served with full white linen service by a darling waitress who looked 15 but had the skills of a seasoned pro.

Since we had requested everything at once, it came that way. Frito misto, tuna burger with wasabi mayo, kobe beef burger with cabrales cheese, caramalized sweet onions and arugula, and chicken satay with peanut sauce.

The perfection of the potato chips should have been a tip off to how delicate and light, yet flavourful and perfectly seasoned the frito misto would be. The calamari was a dream, simply divine bits of tentacles and rings pulled from the oil at the exact moment they were cooked through. They hardly needed to be dipped in the generous servings of smooth and citrusy meyer lemon aioli and a lightly spicy arrabiatta sauce. There were also batons of fennel and elegantly thin asparagus spears also cooked in the shatteringly crisp batter and salted. ($15)

The three mini tuna burgers came open faced on an open multi grain bun, with a spicy but delicate celedon green wasabi mayo and a large pile of pink tinged pickled ginger that offset the richness of the seared fish. Along side the deep red of the fish they placed a lush green salad of mixed greens. Beautiful and tasty. ($18)

Chicken satay is usually not anything to get up in arms about. Marinated chicken breast meat grilled on a skewer. It is a testament to the chefs at Casa Del Mar that these satay took our breath away. The peanut sauce was smooth and creamy with coconut, redolent of chile and cilantro, thin enough to coat the chicken, but not so thin as to run off. The chicken was juicy but with just enough charring to give it a deep smoky taste. I could eat this all day. ($14)

Kobe beef is tricky. Is it as good as Argentinean? Is Wagu better? I really should set up a tasting sometime, but until then, I will highly recommend this thick, juicy burger. The sharpness of the Spanish cheese is a perfect match for the gorgeously carmelized onions and biting arugula. A connoisseurs dream. ($18)

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, drinking in the lush surroundings and positive atmosphere and lounging the day away.

Overall – Outstanding
Parking – Nearby meters are tricky (its on the beach after all) so go with valet
Prices – High-ish but worth it
Atmosphere – Casual elegance

Will I return - As long as I am breathing, I will crave those chips


Club Casa Del Mar opened in 1926 as a beach club and hotel. Built in a Renaissance Revival style by noted Los Angeles architect Charles F. Plummer, Club Casa Del Mar, with its plush Oriental rugs, intricately hand-painted ceilings and heavy bronze statuary, immediately became the Grande Dame of Santa Monica -- and arguably the entire Pacific coast. It was the place to see and be seen, renowned for its swinging social scene and frequented by many of the city's elite including a number of Hollywood celebrities. The partying lasted until World War II when Casa Del Mar was converted to a military hotel. Following WW II, it continued as a beach club and hotel but never regained its former grandeur. Starting in 1959, it served for 20 years as the headquarters for the Synanon drug therapy program; and then from 1978 to 1997, as the
Pritikin Longevity Center



you made it! and to think i was sad that you weren't able to play. :)

this month: QUEEN OF CUISINE

and hide that laptop from the gremlins!
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