Tuesday, January 28

Restaurant review: Back on the Beach Cafe

The grilled salmon burger comes on a whole-wheat bun. The smooth avocado spread and cucumber slices lent the burger a light freshness. (Raunak Devjani/Daily Bruin senior staff)

My ideal Sunday consists of good food and time spent by the ocean.

Back on the Beach Cafe knocked out both criteria in one visit.

Tucked into a corner of the Pacific Coast Highway at Santa Monica State Beach, Back on the Beach Cafe serves up a selective but delicious menu of Euro-American cuisine. Although it falls on the expensive side, the cafe’s food, tasteful ambiance and ocean view made it well worth the price.

Upon arriving, customers can choose to be seated in an indoor section with picturesque interiors, or take a planked path to seaside tables set in sand, under vibrant orange umbrellas. Strings of lightbulbs crisscrossed over the top of the section created a charming atmosphere, with the relaxing sound of the waves in the background.

The cold drinks arrived in stylish glasses with thick, green-and-white straws, adding another classy touch to the experience. The breakfast menu included pastries, fresh fruits and vegetables and a multitude of egg dishes such as huevos rancheros, chicken chorizo and eggs, and classic eggs Benedict.

As far as appetizers go, the sweet potato fries with a well-seasoned chipotle aioli are a tasty option for $7. They came piping hot at the perfect point between crispy and soft, and went well with the rich, buttery dipping sauce.

Among the many salads on the appetizer list was the chicken apple salad, which came with slices of juicy chicken and crunchy apples tossed with romaine and arugula leaves. Crumbs of goat cheese contrasted with the sweetness from the apple and the honey lemon vinaigrette. Crisp almonds sprinkled on top also contributed to the dish’s complex texture, adding a subtle crunch to the creamy cheese.

Though the dainty balance of flavors was pleasing to the palate, salads of a similar calibre can be found at much more reasonable prices. At $17, the dish wasn’t necessarily worth the buy.

Burgers and sandwiches made up a large chunk of the rest of the menu, but the menu also included shrimp tacos, pan-seared rainbow trout and a kale pesto pasta.

The grilled salmon burger, also $17, came with a whole-wheat bun around a patty of tender fish that melted upon first bite. The smooth avocado spread and cool mandolin slices of cucumber complemented the warm salmon with their freshness, and made for a delicate dish that was well-balanced in terms of flavor profile and temperatures.

Compared to more traditional salmon sandwiches that are sometimes bland or dry, the Back On the Beach burger used minced protein instead of a single fillet, allowing a more soft and satisfying quality to the patty. The dish was cleverly modified for better taste and texture while retaining the hallmark oiliness salmon should have.

Back On the Beach Cafe is undeniably costly, but when considered in combination with its colorful yet serene tone, the restaurant offers a classy, beachside getaway for a college student in Westwood.

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