Waterbar in Pacific Beach - San Diego, CA
Waterbar recently opened and took over the Joe’s Crab Shack alongside a prime beachside location of Pacific Beach. It's a fantastic makeover of the space with two huge bars for the drinkers and a fabulous chef in the kitchen for good eats. For parking, we found out they have their own lot behind the building which is valet on the busier nights. Street parking was the alternative for our visit. The brisk chilly walk to the restaurant amplified our hunger.
Isn't this staircase beautiful? The blue hues are TRON-esque and we followed the freely swimming mermaid up into the restaurant.
The huge windows really give you a view of everything, perfect for people watching or just enjoying another beautiful day by the waters. I also love the various plaid shirts of the employees which allows them individuality yet still fit into the scheme of things. Surprisingly almost everyone wore tones of blue or black but I've heard there's a red mixed in too! Our waiter John David has been working there since it opened so he was very familiar with the menu. We threw around a few ideas before settling on our order.
Island Tuna Poke ($14.95) - Sashimi grade local tuna, macadamia nuts, green onion, sesame, seaweed, avocado mousse, pickled serrano aioli, yuzu, nori chips
The tuna appetizer certainly felt like a mix between ceviche and deconstructed sushi sans rice. The marinated fish was a mild flavor sprinkled with fresh greens and a creamy mousse. The unique nori chips didn’t crumble when you chomped. This quality made these perfect for conveying each bite to your mouth without a mess. The only thing to be wary about was the saltier liquid at the bottom so don’t double dip!
Charred Octopus ($14.95) - Ajo blanco, green grapes, cilantro, almond
A massive tentacle greeted us when our octopus dish arrived. The flesh was soft but still had a slight chew to it. I hit a few extra smoky spots, especially around the skinny ends, but otherwise, the char was just right. The white sauce was slightly coarse in texture like a hummus and it helped with the slight bitterness from the blackened areas. The grapes added a pert sweetness that reminded me of octopus samples from Pechanga Wine Festival.
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($16.95) - Spicy apple slaw, pickled serrano aioli, Espelette pepper, mustard seed
Dennis loves his crab cake so this was next on our list. The crab cake was very meaty and slightly salty with a textured cornbread crust. Even with its slight jalapeno bite, I couldn't resist nibbling on the unique slaw, especially the fresh shreds of apples. After all these apps, we were beginning to wonder if we'd be able to make it to the entrees!
Lobster Roll ($19.95) - Maine lobster, butter lettuce, esquites sauce, roasted corn
With lobster on the menu, of course we'd make room for this. This gorgeous sandwich had sweet and tender lobster meat chunks amid a light sauce. A freshness came from the lettuce bed and nibbles of yellow kernels. The buttered bread was dense but still soft. The uncut backend supported the rest of the sandwich as we ravaged through this delicious mixture. A bit of juice dripped into the bready folds the further we dove in. As a side, Dennis was surprisingly addicted to the fries. John David mentioned that these had vinegar which gave it that special taste.
Sea Bass ($25.95) - Smoked tomato broth, ancho chili, onion marmalade, corn dumplings
The sea bass sounded divine as an entree. The well portioned fish was firm but flakey with a nice crisp in the skin. The accompanying tomato broth was lighty refreshing. The yellow balls were thicker doughy bites of mystery until I reread the menu about corn dumplings. These were a bit too different for our tastes though. Usually the fish would be the main focal point but the underlying veggies didn't want to take a back seat. They had a demanding sweetness to them that paired so well with the broth and fish. Dennis the Dipper struck again as leftover bread from the lobster roll took a soak in the broth too.
Chocolate Sponge Cake ($9.95)
Since this was also Dennis's birthday month, we couldn't say no to a sweet treat at the end. This chocolate cake was massive in size and honestly, we were just too full to make much of a dent. I thought it was cool that they used macerated cherries as an accent as well as bits of cocoa powder. I found the cherry ice cream to be my favorite part because it was easy to go down compared to the rest.
Their Executive Chef, Steven Lona, came from the now-closed Tasting Room Del Mar and has put together an excellent menu from what we've experienced. Waterbar on a weeknight was relaxed but still versatile. We saw casual PB style but this would also work perfectly for a fun date night with the huge bars. It had clubby trance house music, at least on that Monday that we visited. Being in the heart of PB and so amazingly close to the beach, I think this will be an trendy and energetic place for food, drink and/or people watching!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and the food was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are my own.
4325 Ocean Blvd
San Diego CA 92109