BACK ON THE BEACH CAFE SUMMER REFRESHER
When my friend Jeanine’s brother Mark was recently visiting from Michigan, I came up with the perfect place to take him to—Back on the Beach Cafe in Santa Monica. All three of us loved it so much that we decided we had to let you know about our wonderful experience, including some menu items that were new to even me, who’s eaten there a lot over the years. [Note: We were enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t think to take pictures of the food! So, you’ll just have to go there and view it all for yourselves, which, trust me, you’ll be glad you did!]
I very rarely repeat restaurant visits, because my dream is to eat at every single one in the world, (which of course no one will ever do, because as soon as you eat at one, another opens, and then the attempt becomes like Lucy and the chocolates on the conveyor belt,) but Back on the Beach is the only one I’m happy to go to whenever I have the time. Since it’s summer now, they serve dinner, as well as breakfast and lunch, but week-end brunch seems to be the main attraction. And since Mark really wanted to hang-out at the ocean a bit, that’s what we did last Sunday.
I had perused their new menu on-line, and when I noticed that they now serve several foods I can eat on my new-ish healthful diet, I was thrilled. And, as a long time fan of this eatery, I knew that vegetarian Jeanine would also have tons of choice. She was actually overwhelmed by just how many there were for her, and had a difficult time deciding among them.
Before I get to the food, let me tell you of the atmosphere, just in case you’re one of the very few Angelenos who’ve never been to this cafe, which is adjacent to the Annenberg Beach House on Pacific Coast Highway. It’s very pleasant inside, with the windows open on a summer day, but since Mark was longing for the beach, we sat at an umbrella-ed table, right in the sand. I wore flip-flops on purpose, to be able to dig my toes right in, and get a feel of summer, which is rare for me nowadays. This was such a pleasure for someone like me, who sits in air-conditioning at a computer all day, and isn’t out in the daytime elements very often. (But please don’t feel bad for me—that’s totally my choice. But this experience was a supreme joy.)
The culinary fun began right from the start, when they tasted their beverages. Jeanine knew with one sip that her iced tea was the brand she considers the best, and was elated, (especially because they all came in purple glasses, her favorite color!) Lemonade connoisseur Mark deemed his lemonade to be superior, which somehow I took pride in! (I did choose the place, after all.)
We could not have ordered three more different main dishes, and were all equally pleased with them. Since it was brunch, Mark went with a shredded kale salad, which our amiable waiter Dave accommodated him by adding poached salmon to. It was so big that even a tall man like him could not finish it. (Especially when he had consumed the uber-generous glass of that lemonade!) He said it was delicious.
Jeanine went with a vegetarian breakfast quesadilla, which came with a side of the most incredible breakfast potatoes I’ve ever had! (“Breakfast” is the restaurant’s designation for them, but I could eat them any time of any day. And still crave more!) Jeanine loved her quesadilla so much, and also the side of fries that we ordered, that she was kind enough to let me eat the majority of her potatoes! What a win-win for us!!!
I was beside myself with happiness when I noticed the whole wheat quinoa pancakes on the menu! I always want pancakes at a brunch, but, since I’m not supposed to eat white flour anymore, I always have to, sadly, go without. And these quinoa ones were still flavorful and tasted like their less-healthful cousins. And there are choices of add-ins, if one is so inclined, so choosing chocolate chips, (which I’m allowed to have,) and topping them with my also-allowed whipped cream made me not even miss Back on the Beach’s incredible bananutella French toast, which is what I used to live for there.
We were honored that the cafe’s popular owner, Fred Deni, sat with us for a bit, which was special. Before we left, he invited us back for dessert and a private fireworks show on the beach that night. The Michiganites were busy elsewhere, but Mr. X was more than happy to fill in for them. He didn’t say this exactly, but I gleaned that he was ecstatic that I had to sit out the sugar, (and honestly, I was still full from brunch—all I had for the rest of the day and night was a slice of watermelon—no lie!,) because he then got to eat the entire yummy round chocolate cake topped with vanilla ice cream with a chocolate drizzle all by his lonesome. I had thought of trying a bite, but before I could decide, he had finished it all!!! And it was not a small portion, at all!
Now all four of us can’t wait to eat there again soon. Mark will just have to fly out here again to do so!
445 Pacific Coast Hwy. Santa Monica 310-393-8282 www.backonthebeachcafe.com