September 09, 2018

A Table With A View

I'm no stranger to watching the world outside through the window. I spent my entire childhood looking for birds in the trees, watching the neighbors splash in their pool, and counting cars on Sunnycrest Drive.

The only difference now is that I can choose to be inside or outside the window—and while generally I would prefer to be watched than to watch, I went to The Marine Room in La Jolla this weekend to take in a little show from behind the glass.

Since it opened in 1941, The Marine Room has been known for its spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The restaurant is set so low onto the beach and so far out from shore that at high tide, the waves will pound against the windows in a spectacular show of nature's might.

I've watched plenty of sunrises and sunsets already—moonrises and eclipses, torrential rain and lightning—so I thought it was time to spectate the sea, see what Poseidon had to offer, and spoon up some lobster bisque.

And since I arrived early enough to catch the day fade into night and the tide just begin to advance upon us, I had plenty of time for dessert, too.

I knew what I was in for, if I'd be lucky enough to get a window seat by myself (I was)—but I still wasn't prepared for the symphony of surf that would unfold before me, the waves breaking in white foam as a seagull or two would fly by in defiance of the night.

I kept getting out of my seat behind my table and getting right up close to the pane, as though I might be able to feel the spray on my face or reach out and grab the tide as it pulsed toward me.

Unbelievably, a group of young boys—they must've been teens—entered the spotlight, boards in tow, adding to the show. I've always been scared of the ocean, especially rising waves, so I marveled at their bravery, or stupidity, whatever it was that propelled them into the black night, to be swallowed by a crest of sea sparkle while we all watched.

As peak tide approached, the bulletproof glass protected us spectators from picking shards of glass out of our chardonnay—but it didn't back in 1982, when El NiƱo-sized waves breached the fourth wall and soaked the inside with seawater. (The windows held up, but the rest of the building took a beating.)

As spectacular as the show was last night—peaks rising just about seven feet, the tallest of this and next month's evening high tides—it wasn't nearly as threatening as it could've been, had the wind kicked up or the barometric pressure dipped significantly.

The Marine Room's High Tide Dinner provides a dining experience of an era before TV dinners and flatscreens at every bar—when people appreciated that nature, in all its glory, can be more fascinating than a restaurant's decor, menu, patrons, or "scene."

Reportedly, during The Marine Room's High Tide Breakfasts, you get the waves plus some marine life—sea lions, leopard sharks, even whales, and more birds. And thats enough reason for me to go back.

For a 2016 article on The Marine Room's history with great historical photos—published upon the restaurant's 75th anniversary—check out the Classic San Diego blog here.

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A Lady Who Lunches
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