Finally, after years of hearing people talk about Water Grill, I can mark it off my DTLA restaurant list. I have walked by the place many times and I have seen it on TV shows like Scandal, but today I went inside to see what all the fuss was about. I met my husband there for lunch. The interior of the restaurant is beautiful. We were seated in a prime booth in the center of the dining room. As the tables around us quickly filled up, I realized that we were surrounded by a bunch of older white gentlemen in business suits. Clearly Water Grill is a favorite lunchtime spot for the Downtown business crowd, and once you see the menu you understand why. This place is not cheap. I’m sure most of the people around us were charging their lunch to clients or putting it on their expense reports.
As soon as I looked at the menu, I knew I was going to start with the $9 bowl of clam chowder. I love clam chowder and order it any chance I get, plus I’m sure a $9 bowl of chowder was going to be something to remember. Oh, was I right (more on that in a moment).
Here comes my clam chowder. Oh, I can’t wait. I like my chowder thick and rich with a cream or milk base. Well, Water Grill’s chowder is more of a soup or a broth. Yes, it’s chocked full of ingredients including full clams, but I don’t really like it. Now remember this bowl of clam soup cost me 9 bucks, so I try to eat as much as I can. Finally, I give up and just pick the clams out of it. I ate about half of it before pushing it to the center of the table.
For his main course, my husband ordered the New England Lobster Roll (Connecticut-style) and French Fries ($25). No, $25 is not a typo. He loved it. He loved everything about it. It was a toasted roll stuffed with lobster meat drizzled with melted butter. The French fries were good too, but were overshadowed by the lobster roll.
I ordered the Wild Alaskan Halibut ($31). It came on a bed of herbed braised white beans with clams and chorizo. Yes, it was $31. Again, this is not a typo. When it arrives I am surprised by what a small portion of fish is on the plate. For 31 bucks, it should have been much bigger. Despite the four pieces of chorizo, this was one of the blandest meals I have ever eaten. At one point I covered it in pepper trying to spice it up.
The service was great. My water glass was never empty. Used bowls, plates and silverware were whisked away immediately. I may not have liked my food, but I loved the service. The bill arrives and with my husband’s Arnold Palmer, it was $76.30 before the tip. We add 20 percent and get ready to leave, but then I take another look at the bill. The menu said the lobster roll was $25, but the bill says $26. It’s just a $1, but on the way out I make my husband point out the discrepancy to the manager. He quickly offers to reimburse the $1, but we decline. It was something that needed to be brought to his attention.
So now my husband is going back to work and I am going to do some DTLA exploring. He walks one way and I walk the other. I walk a few blocks and… (okay, I apologize in advance, but…) remember how I said that $9 bowl of chowder would be something to remember? Well, it wants out. It wants out NOW. In case you can’t figure out what I am trying to say… I need a bathroom and I need it NOW, but I’m on 5th and Los Angeles Street. Yes, some people in the area just defecate on the street, I am not one of them. Okay, I think if I walk fast enough I will make it home so I start making a beeline in that direction. Oh no, I’m not going to make it. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead. I need another plan. I need a bathroom NOW, and when I say NOW, I mean NOW. As I look down 7th Street I see the top of the Sheraton Hotel and I think they must have a bathroom. I have to hurry, but physics will tell you running is not really an option right now. I finally get to the Sheraton and the entrance is boarded up because it is being remodeled but there are signs directing you to the temporary lobby on the second floor. I scurry down this makeshift corridor to an elevator. I’m almost there… until I see a sign that says because of construction expect delays with the elevator. Are you kidding me? There are not stairs around, so I push the button, and push it again and again and again. You know if you push an elevator button many times real fast it makes the elevator move faster (that is not true). When the elevator arrives I jump in and push 2 button. Again, I pushed it a hundred times to speed the elevator up. When the doors open I see the restroom sign and then I see the sweet little lady from housekeeping pushing her cart of cleaning supplies toward the men’s room door. Oh no! She is not going in the men’s room. No way. She looks my way and we make eye contact. Clearly she could spot the panic in my eyes (or the way I am trying to walk fast without taking big steps) and jumps out of my way. I don’t need to tell you any more details.
Bottom line: I will probably never eat at Water Grill again. I don’t know that it was the clam
chowder broth that made me race to the bathroom, but I’m not taking that chance ever again. And even without the bathroom drama, I think Water Grill is too expensive. I don’t mind dropping a lot of money at a restaurant if the food is worth it (ie: Factory Kitchen, Bestia, Redbird) but Water Grill did not impress me. I’m sure some of you will disagree and I encourage you to leave your Water Grill praises in the comments section below.
Water Grill 544 Grand Avenue (between 5th and 6th) 213.891.090