Of the myriad of cuisines in Los Angeles, it seems odd that seafood may be the most underrepresented especially considering the town's proximity to one of the most beautiful and bountiful coastlines in the world. But when thinking about super fresh and delicious fish fare only a few names jump to mind. Providence, for sure; Crustacean, Brophy Brothers, BP Oysterette and maybe Ocean Ave. But nothing else jumps quite so quickly off the hook.
Enter Lure. There will be three locations open by mid-February with the current ones in Ventura and Camarillo and the newest spot in Westlake coming soon.
On a warm and wonderful night in Ventura, every restaurant on the bustling Main Street is dead empty. Like a tumble weed looking for something to do, every waiter and barkeep is aimlessly killing time in every establishment by polishing and re-polishing every glass and fork in site. But Lure on this Thursday night is packed to the gills. Every table is slammed. Both the booze and oyster bars have patrons standing two deep.
Obviously the word is out. And for great reason.
Start with the oysters. A good half dozen selections highlight the best North America has to offer with Long Island, Vancouver (Fanny Bays), Washington state (Crystal Pont) and California well presented. Get there between 4-6pm and each shelled delight is about $1.50 per (with beer and cocktails also a couple bucks off the norm). Sit at the oyster bar and watch the show as the shuckers shuck their fingers off and provide some terrific insight into the subtle flavors of each beach booger as if describing a fine wine.
The finned entrees are equally epic and reasonably priced all at around $20 or less. Lure features the usual suspects like mahi mahi and halibut along with harder-to-find fare like Canadian ling cod, Pacific broadbill swordfish and Copper River salmon. My favorite is a hunk of Arctic Char the size of a deflated football, lightly seared until the sunset-hued flesh burns dark and is perfectly seasoned with nothing but a hunk of fresh lemon. Pick two sides with each entry – most plucked from the local farmer’s markets that line the Ventura coastline like pan-roasted green beans, brussel sprouts or sautéed carrots.
There are a handful of seafood pasta dishes along with a litany of salads including a classic seafood Louie with lumps of dungeoness crab and snappy Gulf shrimp to bring the Spring to life.
The chill blue and white lighting with navigational décor makes one think they’re stuck inside a fish bowl as re-imagined by David Lynch. So grab a cold martini and slurp a few icy oysters to get the evening started; LA may just have a new great fish trap.