Water Grill

The tablecloths are gone, beer comes by the pitcher, and nautical bric-a-brac adorns the walls at the completely revamped Water Grill. Much has changed at the onetime power lunch bastion, but its impeccable handling of seafood has not. The raw bar now includes bay scallops and sea urchin. Fish are offered whole, either charcoal grilled or served escabeche style. The crab cake remains a benchmark.

Best Crab Cakes, August 2011

The cakes usually come from two possible donors: Dungeness or blue. The former give up thin shreds of meat that bind easily with fillers and are finely represented at Casa del Mar’s Catch and its Lobby Lounge in Santa Monica. We’re partial, however, to the uninterrupted toothsome sweetness the meat from a Maryland blue crab possesses. When the craving overtakes us for that particular delight, we head to Water Grill. Here the patties are formed with fresh jumbo lump blue crab, seared and served with a slick of celery root remoulade, sautéed fingerling potatoes, and lightly pickled celery, celery leaves, and onion slices. The acid-crunch combo clears the palate for the next delicious bite. Amen.