A SANTA MONICA LANDMARK GETS A FACELIFT
When it rains it pours and likewise one trip to the famous Santa Monica Pier for dinner quickly led to two and then three outings for fine local fare as the pier is really making strides to be a place to dine in town. The latest addition to the iconic pier is The Albright, however, it’s hardly new.
Formerly SM Pier Seafood established in 1977, the space is now under the helm of Yunnie Kim Morena who took over the restaurant from her mother. Rebranding the charming fish eatery as The Albright, named after the nautical Albright Knot, the restaurant has undergone a complete revamp, including an updated menu that reflects a strong commitment to using fresh, locally sourced food, along with the addition of a craft beer and California wine program.
Alongside the elegant and venerable restaurant The Lobster, and the new and exciting Ristorante Al Mare, the Santa Monica Pier, especially with the retooled Albright, is no longer just a place for tourists and where locals avoid; now it’s actually a go-to destination for quality food and of course, spectacular sunsets and ocean views.
While The Albright grew out of one family’s love and commitment to the dynamic beachside community of Santa Monica, the new menu features everything from Spicy Seafood Soup and Kumamoto Oysters to Whole Fried Tilapia and a massive salt-water tank of live lobsters, crabs and prawns. Classic favorites include Mussels & Fries, Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp Tacos, and Corn Dog Bites.
During our recent visit for dinner, we took in the relaxed atmosphere and started our night with beers and sangria. Lunchtime, weekends, and of course summertime bring in the crowds so we really enjoyed the chill vibe at dinner.
Starting with a fine and comforting bowl of New England Clam Chowder, served with oyster chips (you can also order the savory soup in a sourdough bread bowl), we then moved on to a fantastic arrangement of Fanny Bay Oysters served with champagne mignonette and spicy relish.
Happy to take advantage of the fresh and delicious fish at our disposal, we ordered the Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp Tacos served with black beans, pico de gallo and fresh guacamole, served with three flour tortillas. These tacos are so very tasty.
We had to give the Pier Classic Fish & Chips a try, and these hand-battered Icelandic cod served with French fries and coleslaw were spot on. There’s a lot to choose from on this new menu, from real fish entrées, such as salmon, halibut, and tilapia, to burgers, club sandwiches and Caramelized Tuna Melt, but I just had to give the Fish & Chips, a favorite at the pier, a try.
If you’re looking for a bigger entrée, the Halibut, served with brown rice, cherry tomatoes, and summer beans with arugula pesto is a fine choice. It’s light and fresh and completely guilt free, as is the salmon. This one is great for fish lovers or anyone looking to eat healthy.
But one of the main reasons to head over to the new Albright is for the lobster and Dungeness crab, both from their salt water tank and each served with potato salad, corn on the cob and drawn butter. We opted for the 1.25lb Lobster, a fantastic and fresh selection. I have to hand it to The Albright, they give The Lobster, a local institution for lobster entrées a run for its money, although the presentation at The Albright is simpler—it’s all about the dish here.
From simple eats to fine dining in a casual setting, The Albright is a beach area goldmine—a terrific place to getaway, relax and indulge in fine (fish) fare.
The Albright is located at 258 Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica. Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm to close; Sat-Sun 11am to close. Call (310) 394-9683.
By: Jose Martinez.
Photography interior & owner By: Brian Morena