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The Beach Gourmet: Ocean and Vine at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

The Loews at Santa Monica Beach is one of an array of luxury beach hotels that our fine city boasts, and this hotel boasts its own chic beach eatery with the Ocean and Vine restaurant. I recently visited this location and, with my dining partner, enjoyed their midday fare with a languid weekday lunch where we pondered serenity, spirituality, and sustenance.

Ocean and Vine is sleek and sophisticated, with superb Pacific views and a delightfully warming fire pit that gave some much-needed comfort, given our recent inclement seasonally adjusted discomfort.

The menu itself was equally consolatory, with a thoughtful, albeit limited, selection of dishes ranging from starters like crab cake Cobb (Dungeness crab, romaine, egg, onion, bacon, tomato, and lemon-vanilla dressing, $18), heart of romaine Caesar salad ($10), grilled flat iron steak (crispy potato strips, warm arugula salad, and béarnaise sauce, $22), and grilled America Kobe-styled burger (Point Reyes blue cheese, grilled onions, and roasted red pepper aioli with garlic parmesan fries, $18).

All very impressive on paper, but any dish, no matter how well designed, lives or dies by its ingredients. Like many local restaurants, Ocean and Vine takes advantage of the abundance of farmers’ markets that we are fortunate enough to have at our disposal here in Santa Monica.

After blessing our taste buds with a delicious assortment of complimentary breads dipped in olive oil and vinegar, we tested the “farm to table” principal by sharing a market greens salad ($10).

Generous, fresh, and graced with a perfectly light honey-rosemary vinaigrette, this leafy and crisp greens starter was complimented by juicy tomatoes, cucumber, and apple garnish. A very good, signature farmers’ market salad.

For the entrées, I chose the grilled wild king salmon (sour cream mashed fingerling potatoes and honey-mustard vinaigrette, $20), while my partner opted for the aforementioned Kobe burger.

Service at this world-class establishment was world class, as expected, and our dishes arrived with perfect timing in a smart and professional fashion, with presentation being equally polished.

The salmon was beautifully pigmented, tender, and juicy, with the faintest suggestion of garlic added to the light and fluffy potatoes, a perfect compliment to the simply prepared vinaigrette.

The burger was equally enjoyed, and a substantial portion to boot. Ordered medium-rare, it arrived medium-rare, and was graced with succulent grilled onions, which, with the unobtrusive blue cheese and mild roasted red pepper aioli, made for a mouth-watering taste experience. Add to that a sensible serving of crispy uncomplicated garlic Parmesan fries and satisfaction was certainly served on this occasion.

After dining we retreated to the beautiful Santa Monica Lounge, where we enjoyed a splendid cappuccino and watched the procession of cumulus clouds as they cast their shadows over the perpetual Pacific Ocean. It was at this moment that I realized that it is all too often easy to forget that, as well as having so many wonderful restaurants at our disposal, we also have some classic haute cuisine hotels right here on our doorstep.

With stunning views, farm fresh produce, delightful dishes, sophisticated surroundings, and slick service, Ocean and Vine is a great way to get the low-down on Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

Ocean and Vine, 1700 Ocean Avenue, 866.210.9156.

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