I’ve been curious about Catalina Island in California ever since I first heard that song
(26 Miles Across the Sea by the Four Preps).
We finally got to go there last week. I couldn’t wait to see what the place was like. Would it be, as the song says, an island of “…romance, romance, romance”? “…a tropical heaven covered with trees”? More importantly, would there be any good food?
First, my impression of the island: After an hour’s ride, the catamaran ferry docked on the main street, which is about a half a mile long. One side of the street is the beach, whereas the other side has the tourist stores, hotels, and restaurants.
There are no vehicles allowed on the main street. Basically, it is a paved pedestrian plaza. There are very few cars allowed generally on the island, so most residents (year round population is around 4,000) and many of the tourists travel by golf cart.
Once you leave the main street, you find yourself essentially in a hilly desert; with dry, rocky soil and colorful cacti everywhere, but only the occasional tree.
On average, It rains one day every two years in the month of June. And during our three-day stay, the sky was always a clear blue and the temperature ranged between 60 and 75 degrees - great for walking, not so great for swimming.
As for the food, for dinner, the first night, we went to Bluewater Grill, a restaurant with a deck on the beach side of the main drag. That night, they happened to be featuring dishes from Louisiana. For my main course, I ordered the pan-seared salmon with scalloped potatoes and greens. For dessert, we shared a gigantic, sumptuous mud pie, that could easily have fed four persons.
On the second night, we followed the recommendation of the inn concierge and went to a local favorite called The Lobster Trap. Their shrimp scampi was very good, but, oddly, it was served in a dish separate from the rice. And although the garlicky butter sauce accompanying the shrimp was delicious, the rice was plain and dry.
Finally, on the third night, we went to Steve’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant, where, not feeling like having either, I ordered the chicken piccata. Good call, as it was flavorful with just the right lemony notes. The husband liked his shrimp and swordfish kebab too. For dessert, we split the key lime pie, which was lovely. The restaurant is on the second floor of a building facing the beach and the view out the window was terrific, as well.