I have no idea how old Water Grill restaurant is. For as long as I can remember, Water Grill in Downtown has been in existence. I think the last time we went to Water Grill must’ve been at least 5+ years ago. But since the first time we went, it’s always been this old standby for getting Seafood, prepared American-style, with fresh Shrimp Cocktail, Dungeness Crab, Lobster, various Fish and more.
I don’t remember the food being amazing, but for American Seafood preparations? It was a reliable place, although the clientele when we went felt like it was expense account types, or folks from the corporate sector.
(Complimentary) Bread Service - Sourdough Rolls & Butter:
Their complimentary Bread Service was oven-warmed Sourdough Rolls and Butter, and it was delicious! Maybe it’s because we hadn’t had nice warm-hot Rolls in so long, but they were pillowy-soft, and adding a pat of quality Butter to melt in the Roll, it’s just so satisfying.
Chilled Dungeness Crab + Wild Jumbo Mexican Shrimp:
One of the nice options on the Water Grill menu is the flexibility to build your own Seafood Tower essentially. You can choose from a variety of fresh Seafood, such as Wild Jumbo Florida Stone Crab Claws, Wild Littleneck Clams, Peruvian Bay Scallops, Mussels, Shrimp, Lobster, Dungeness Crab, Sea Urchin and more. Or, you could just just get one of their 3 sizes of Seafood Tower selections.
Wild Dungeness Crab (Washington):
In-season, Wild Dungeness Crab is always a great thing. Inherently sweet, delicate, delicious! We are definitely fortunate to enjoy this on the West Coast.
Wild Jumbo Mexican Shrimp:
I’ve always enjoyed a great Shrimp Cocktail, and these Wild Jumbo Mexican Shrimp made for a tasty version. Plump, meaty, sweet, fresh-tasting.
Atlantic Cod Fish Tacos (Beer Battered, Cabbage Slaw, Roasted Salsa, Crema):
This is where we get into the “expense account” territory, or it’s just cost of goods during the pandemic: $18 (+ tax & tip) for 2 Fish Tacos? If it’s well-executed there are no complaints. Unfortunately, they tasted just “OK” at best. It was a bit soft / soggy, no real crispiness. The Cod itself tasted like quality, but there wasn’t anything standout about it.
Clam Chowder (Applewood Smoked Bacon):
Water Grill’s Clam Chowder is totally in the “classic American New England Clam Chowder” vein: It’s thick, gloppy, has lots of Clam meat at least, Potatoes, etc. But after having the well-executed, lighter version at Connie & Ted’s, it makes it really hard to go back to this standard preparation. (@chienrouge @ipsedixit and all.)
Crisp Calamari (Harissa Aioli and Cilantro-Mint Sweet Chili Sauce):
A solid, tasty preparation of Fried Calamari. The Harissa Aioli was a nice pairing.
Wild Eastern Sea Scallops (Cauliflower Puree, Curried Roasted Cauliflower, Pickled Golden Raisins, Soy Brown Butter):
One of our relatives ordered this dish, so I can’t comment on the taste, but they enjoyed it.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (with Bacon and Chestnuts):
This was a bit overly sweet.
Grilled Broccolini (Chinese Sausage):
This was a bit disappointing. I always enjoy good Vegetable preparations, but the Grilled Broccolini tasted literally like Broccolini that was plainly grilled, and they threw some chopped up Chinese Sausage on top like an afterthought.
Cioppino (Dungeness Crab, Jumbo Shrimp, and Fresh Fish in a Shellfish Broth):
This was a respectable version of a Cioppino. The Jumbo Shrimp, Dungeness Crab and Fresh Fish morsels were all bright and lightly briny (in the best possible way).
Wild Icelandic Atlantic Cod Fish & Chips:
Make no mistake that Seafood prices have gone up considerably, but it is a bit of a sticker shock to see Fish & Chips (for 1 piece of Cod) priced at $34 (+ tax & tip)! However, thankfully, this was a solid version. Decently crispy-crunchy, moist Icelandic Cod within. And it was a large single piece. Overall, we preferred Connie & Ted’s version, but if I found myself in Downtown and craving Fish & Chips, this is a solid version.
The Fries were the thick pseudo-Steak Fries variety. Soft exterior with a soft potatoey center, and they were overfried and lukewarm-cold. We mentioned this to our server who was kind enough to ask the kitchen to make a new batch (which turned out better (piping hot), but still in that thick potatoey center style).
Daily Homemade Ice Cream & Sorbet:
Caramel Bread Pudding (with Alaea Red Sea Salt):
A touch dense, but nicely warmed up, decadent caramel flavors in every bite.
Chocolate Espresso Ganache Cake (Pistachios, Luxardo Cherry Sorbet):
Incredibly rich Chocolate overload. This was super thick, dense (in a good way). I was good with just 1 bite.
It was good to see how Water Grill in Downtown was doing. The interior with rich dark wood paneling (and menu prices) evokes a “business / corporate” atmosphere, but then you have a bright, inviting Chilled Seafood Bar in the center of the restaurant, along with a few HDTV screens playing whatever sports games were on to loosen things up.
Food-wise, Water Grill was fine. There were quite a few average dishes (the Fish Tacos, the gloppy Clam Chowder, mediocre Vegetable sides), but it reminds you of what Water Grill’s strengths are: The Chilled, Fresh Seafood (Towers), and Seafood Main Courses.
If you were in the mood for quality Shrimp Cocktail, Wild Dungeness Crab, Scallops and more, with a nice atmosphere, Water Grill will be just fine. But in terms of overall execution of American Seafood dishes, we’d rather go back to Connie & Ted’s any day of the week.
544 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Tel: (213) 891-0900