One of Ocean Beach's prime pier-view locations has a new summer restaurant destination. Open since earlier this year, OB Surf Lodge reads as a stylish update to the breezy charm of Shades Oceanfront Bistro, which reportedly closed for good last summer after a fire.
It's been taken over by the same ownership as Wonderland Pub, which looks out at the exact same stretch of beachfront from directly upstairs. With OB Surf Lodge, they completely re-did the interior with polished midcentury décor that hits the surfy conceptual mark — just the right count of longboards hanging from the ceiling to escape being kitschy.
The courtyard and beachfront patios have been updated too, with unpainted wood pergolas adding more appealing structure around the plexiglass shielding diners from wind and spray off the ocean. The courtyard's better for parties of four or more, as most of the front deck seating lines up along a counter looking beachward.
5083 Santa Monica Ave Suite 1F, Ocean Beach
Without a doubt, this makes a great meet-for-cocktails destination, whether you're into sunset, or daydrinking. I visited around late morning, taking a seat with my dog in tow, grateful the restaurant had kept up the location's dog-friendly status. From where I sat, I could see wayfaring beach lovers cavorting in the grass by the sea wall, launching into in acro yoga positions, balancing on slacklines, or playing with hoops.
One industrious man had cobbled together a large bubble blowing contraption with rope, and was taking advantage of the steady onshore breeze to let loose dozens of giant bubbles at once. About 10 or 15 inches in diameter, they glinted and wobbled in the sun as they floated over the grass and right past the Surf Lodge deck.
Through the plexiglass lining the base of the long counter, my dog could see them too. She tucked under the bench seating into the space at my feet, trying to get the attention of little kids walking past on the sidewalk below. If your dog's a yapper, it might be happier farther back on the patio.
I ordered off the brunch menu, which offers appealing takes on traditional fare, including vegetarian alternatives organic eggs, and occasional vegetables like kale or charred broccoli.
The house smoked salmon toast was decent for $10. Stacked with capers, radishes, avocado, red onions, and hard boiled eggs, it would have been generous enough with a thicker slice of sourdough. Its thin, crisp slice held everything up, but didn't quite elevate the actual toast the way hipster screeds prescribe.
Or, maybe I just wanted it to be as good as the biscuits. Unlike the sourdough, these were made in house, and were terrific. Flaky and buttery, they had great density, without being either doughy or crumbly. You can get them smothered in gravy or made into breakfast sandwiches with fried chicken or your standard assortment of breakfast meats.
I got the simplest offering — two biscuits with fruit spreads for $6. If I had to choose I'd have gone with the strawberry over blueberry. But I didn't have to choose, just chew away happily, looking at bubbles.