With a name like Santa Monica Yacht Club, I expected water views and a lot of deck shoes walking around the restaurant. This is not the case at the new restaurant called Santa Monica Yacht Club. In fact, when I googled it, I did get what I was looking for - a boat club on the water, but it did not have an open to the public restaurant. So you should note there are 2 institutions called Santa Monica Yacht Club. One will have you searching for your own dinner on the water, and the other will bring that fresh seafood to you on a plate, on shore, at a table. I chose the latter.
The Santa Monica Yacht Club, or SMYC, is several blocks from the water on Santa Monica Boulevard at 6th Street, in the old La Botte space. Windows surround the corner based location and one step in, and you see a few subtle nods to the nautical theme with some sea-like fixtures, sailing logos on the plates and round blue bulbs hanging from the ceiling with rope. Mostly you'll get the yacht club feel from the seafood-centric meal, created by Tar & Roses owner Andrew Kirschner.
It's a who's who of seafood dishes starting with a nice line-up under the raw section like oysters, yellowtail and swordfish carpaccio. We went with the pretty ceviche that's cleverly served in a coconut with cilantro and thai chili. You're instructed to go in with a spoon for a bite, and take some of the soft, slightly sweet coconut from the side, and I advise following instructions. It's fresh with nice spice.
Raw day boat scallops are soft and rich in a ponzu, togarashi, bonito sauce, giving it a nice accent and prepping the taste buds for something warm.
I see octopus on many Los Angeles restaurant menus, and I keep ordering it, hoping it might be different and well cooked and as good as I dream. SMYC hits the mark with their charred octopus with a nice smoke to it, and the appropriate amount of bite. A creamy potato with smoked paprika offers a soft bed and salsa verde dotted on the plate makes for perfect swirling and enjoying. Well done.
Something I don't see on a lot of menus is sardines, and certainly not served warm with a sweet and sour crust. The crunchy flavor was addicting and also as good was the fennel, grape, onion, pine nut salad it was served on. It hit nice acidic notes with the sardines. The dorade was also notable with its maitake mushrooms, grilled ramps and shrimp reduction. All soft, subtle flavors that served to enhance the delicate fish its paired with.
There is a meat section with lamb kabobs, pork jowl and a 16 ounce bone-in NY steak, but we stayed with the seafood theme, though also decided we should probably eat some vegetables. The green papaya and cabbage slaw has a Vietnamese bent with fresh citrus and fish sauce and some peanuts for topping - a nice palate cleanser.
Dessert was a ying and yang bowl of creamy chocolate and whipped cream with what I can only remember as crispy corn nuts on top. It worked - smooth, creamy and crunchy.
Cocktails are fun and one's to consider sipping waterside like Mai Tais and Moscow Mules (have you tried my Jalapeno Mint Mule yet?). The wine by the glass list offers a nice selection to go from whites to reds if you want to switch with courses. The menu is mostly small plates and all dishes are under $20, excluding the 16 ounce steak for $49.
Santa Monica Yacht Club may not be seaside, but it is serving some unique seafood combinations, without you having to leave dry land.
Santa Monica Yacht Club
620 Santa Monica Boulevard