I have been a lobster fan since I tried to impress a college date by taking her out to a lobster dinner.
Yes, I wore a bib and pretended to know how to crack open the crustacean.
The relationship didn’t last, but my love for lobster has endured, although I prefer to have my lobster ready to devour sans bib.
Good news for fellow lobster lovers—this is spiny lobster season in California, and a perfect place to enjoy the seasonal delight is Water Grill in Costa Mesa’s Arts District.
I’ve dined at Water Grill a number of times when I have tickets to a show at Segerstrom Center for the Arts or South Coast Repertory. You can valet your vehicle, dine at Water Grill, and then walk to the show.
That’s exactly what fellow foodie Della Lisi and I did last month when we attended a Saturday matinee performance of “Hamilton” at Segerstrom Center.
Of course, we were also on a mission to try the California spiny lobster, which I was told are caught one at a time, by hand or in small traps, in the early hours of the morning off our coast.
The Water Grill spiny lobsters are sourced directly from local fishermen in San Diego and Santa Barbara, then brought to the company’s distribution center where they are sorted and sent straight to restaurants.
Before ordering our entrees, we opted for Hamachi crudo, which arrived with the head and tail in place. Visually fun and pleasing to the palate.
I naturally ordered the spiny lobster, which is charcoal grilled and served with melted butter, lemon, and homemade coleslaw.
Lisi went in a different direction and ordered the wild eastern sea scallops with cauliflower puree, curried roasted cauliflower, pickled golden raisins and soy brown butter.
Spiny lobsters have a slightly different taste than regular lobsters, but they are equally as decadent and the one on my plate was excellent. I delightfully pulled chunks of the meat from the shell and after dipping in the butter carefully placed the morsels into my mouth. My smile no doubt revealed the pleasure that comes from eating lobster.
Lisi deemed her scallops delicious. We managed to polish off the restaurant’s signature dessert of caramel bread pudding before making our way to see “Hamilton.”
With all the holiday shows at South Coast Rep and Segerstrom Center this December, Water Grill is an ideal pre-show dining spot.
Note—the spiny lobster is market priced and varies by weight, but this is a seasonal treat and worth the splurge.
Water Grill: 3300 Bristol St. Costa Mesa, (949) 208-7060, watergrill.com