How many times have you gone out to eat only to be disappointed when the place doesn't live up to the hype?

Moby Dick Restaurant on Stearns Wharf promises a "million-dollar view" at every table and lives up to that promise.

And whether you stand on tradition (Fish and Chips), want to try something different (Snapper with Salsa Vera Cruz) or like your seafood in a salad (Caesar with Salmon), this 40-year-old icon at the ocean end of Stearns Wharf will have you hooked.

Start with plenty-for-two Grilled Crab and Shrimp Cakes ($17.95). They're made daily, with red bell pepper, celery, onion and lots of meat, and topped with a spicy sauce.

If there’s filler, you’d never know it.

Restaurant Pier Santa Barbara

We’d like to see more clams in the chowder, but the Lobster Bisque does the seasoned traditional soup one better with small chunks of meat.

The inside is everything you expect from a waterfront seafood restaurant with lots of dark woods and nautical décor.

But on a sunny day, the patio, with just enough glass to keep the wind out, is the place to sit.  Moby Dick Pale Ale, by Barrel House Brewing Co, comes to the table ice cold. The specialty drink, Moby Dick Rum (Cruzan Silver, peach brandy and juices), is like something you’d enjoy on the deck of a cruise ship gazing out at the open sea, perfect for a table overlooking paddleboarders near the Breakwater, a school of novice sailors returning to Santa Barbara Harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Blackfin leaving the harbor or even on a cruise ship anchored offshore.

You slurp so fast you want another, but then it hits you: There’s something in this drink.

Restaurant Pier Santa Barbara

The Captain’s Favorite Cod a menu staple, is a thick fillet of Alaska cod stacked on a spinach-potato pancake stacked on grilled zucchini and carrots cut lasagna style, all topped with a thick homemade tomato and basil sauce.

Each level is cooked to perfection, and the sauce, while it sounds too heavy for a light white fish, is light as can be, and because there are so many ways to fill your fork, each bite is a different experience.

The “catch of the day” snapper is a colorful picture thanks to the grilled bell peppers, olives and other vegetables of the Salsa Vera Cruz on top.  The flavor is tangy but the fish still comes through.

Pasta offerings at Moby Dick include Seafood Linguine with basil and shallots in a creamy yet impressively light Alfredo sauce.  Big pieces of salmon, cod and shrimp abound, with the perfect accompaniment: a big, thick toasted roll with butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

Breakfast at Moby Dick features traditional fare, a bit of the unexpected – Huevos Rancheros – and, of course, something from the sea, including Salmon Benedict.

You can eat it grilled, fried, tossed in a salad or smothered in Hollandaise sauce.  No matter how you like your seafood, Moby Dick reels you in with something good.


High Points: View, variety and validated parking.  Happy hour 4 to 6pm daily.


Scene Magazine: November 7,2014