I’ll admit that I’m spoiled. It’s hard to get excited about too many restaurants when I have a flock of eateries in Culver City at my disposal.
But I discovered a new one on the island of Catalina that was a pleasant surprise. It’s the Avalon Grille, one of the newer arrivals to this charming island, and it packs a punch.
In recent visits, most of the places I’ve frequented on Catalina have that laid-back surfer charm. The food is good at these places, although not terribly interesting. I’m here to report that Catalina is undergoing a transformation, and in addition to some premium hotels, the dining scene is improving as well.
The Avalon Grille opened in 2010. This place has a great vibe. It’s a modern, yet airy place, with wonderful views of the boardwalk and the adjacent pier. Latin tunes give this place a bit of a South Beach vibe, adding to the groovy ambiance of the restaurant. Photos of the island wink from flat-screened televisions reminding you of all the natural charms of Catalina.
At the Avalon Grille, the food is inventive without being too eclectic to alienate the tourism that is attracted to the island. Be prepared to drop a few bills at this place, but the adventure is worth it.
Kudos went to two starters that were recommended to us by the charming General Manager, Ricardo Cubias.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($10), flanked with cranberries, almonds, pancetta and laced with mustard vinaigrette. The flavors were a real circus of delight, exercising the palate in an unusual way.
Also notable was the Crispy Calamari & Rock Shrimp ($15), coupled with a honey mustard sauce, arugula and pickled red onions. Again, innovation ruled here, and we should have exercised some restraint so we could fully appreciate the following courses.
A good choice for carnivores was the Grilled Good Nature Pork Chop ($22) with a delightful potato puree, snappy garlicky greens and topped with a molasses glaze. This is a good-sized portion, and easy enough to share if you want to indulge in some other items. I loved those garlicky greens!
Also notable was the 12 oz. Prime New York Strip ($37) coupled with potato croquette, blistered heirloom tomatoes, seasonal vegetables and topped with a red wine butter, which was a nice touch. Both meat entrees were large and lovely.
Save room for dessert, as you’ll want to splurge with their Deep Fried Oreo Cream Sandwich ($7) stuffed with orbs of ice cream. Glad we were walking back to our lovely hotel!
And speaking of hotels, you can’t have dinner at a place like this without securing accommodations first, so check out Tripadvisors #1 choice, The Avalon Hotel, a few blocks away. You’ll be tempted to simply stay in your well-appointed room with its Craftsman charms, a rooftop deck and an inviting Koi pond.
423 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
The Avalon Hotel
124 Whittley Ave.
Avalon, CA 90704