Restaurant Review – OB Surf Lodge

by on March 20, 2017 · 30 comments

in Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

Restaurant Review

OB Surf Lodge
5083 Santa Monica Ave., #1F
Ocean Beach, CA 92107

One of my favorite restaurants in Ocean Beach was Shades. It was my “go-to-it” place for everything – celebrations, brunches, breakfasts, dinners, romantic interludes, etc.  There were a lot of us that were sorry to see it close, and hoped that a similar place would take over when the new restaurant opened.  I am sad to say, in my opinion, that this is a place that I will not be patronizing again.

In the first place the noise was deafening!  I was sitting right next to Eric and we could barely hear each other. We sat at the “bar” directly across the street from the ocean.  But the counter top was so low, and the chairs even lower so that we had absolutely no view of what was in front of us.  It was disconcerting to be so close and yet not to be able to see out the window.  Someone needs to refigure that part of the restaurant.

There were two menus – an extensive drink menu, featuring cocktails, beer and wine.

The food menu was slightly different in their offerings than other restaurants.  For example they had  4 different kinds of “biscuits” – a biscuit with gravy ($11); biscuit Benedict ($13) for example. They had a “Shrimp and Grits” ($13); Several kinds of “Toasts” – Poblano Avocado Toast ($8); House Smoked Salmon Toast ($10); Warm Brie Toast ($9).

There is a section called, “Big Waves” that included Omelets – Fried Cheddar Omelet ($13); Sweet Potato Hash ($12); Breakfast Burrito’s ($10.) There was a Smoked Salmon plate ($16). There were also sandwiches – the Lodge Burger ($16) which included French fries, or the “Tahini Chicken Burger ($16) which also included the fries.  Additionally there was Polenta ($13) and a “Grilled Hanger Steak ($21) among other things on the menu.  There were  three salads and three desserts listed also.

The service was good, and the waitstaff was very patient with us while we were making up our minds as to what to eat.  We finally decided to order one of the Lodge Burgers and one of the Tahini Chicken Burger and split them between us.

Eric asked for ice tea and I asked for lemonade, but the waiter informed us –after checking – that they did not have their lemonade set up yet.  He asked us if we wanted an Arnold Palmer, and we declined.  It is a little curious, however, to figure out how they might make one if they did not have any lemonade. (An Arnold Palmer is half lemonade and half tea.)

The two sandwiches were huge! In spite of us cutting them in half, we took home half of each one of them.  An interesting feature was the egg on the burger. Since I am not crazy about Feta cheese, I would have liked to have had a more mild cheese on the chicken burger.  The two sandwiches were very tasty; the tomatoes and cucumbers (not pickles) were very fresh and crispy.  The French fries were wonderful; hot, crispy, and seasoned well.  We asked for ketchup and were brought two individual ramekins with ketchup for each of us.

I think what grieves me the most about this new venue is that with the closing of Shades there are only three “nice” restaurants left in Ocean Beach.  Three that allow normal conversations; three that are conducive to celebrations and normalcy.  (Bo-beau, Kaiserhof, Third Corner – although there is an extensive wine selection at the Third Corner,  the wines are not “pushed” ).

As a resident of Ocean Beach for 50+ years I am sorry to think that I need to go someplace else  for a meal when I have out-of-town visitors, because conversations are nigh-on impossible at other existing establishments. Too bad.  I had such high hopes.

Our total bill, without tip, was $33.94, a little pricey for two hamburgers, particularly when Hodad’s and Raglan’s are just around the corner.  If I had to give a grade for the food I would say at “B”; if I had to give a grade for the ambiance I would give it a “D”.  I do not like having to shout at my companion to be heard. It just isn’t worth it to me to not enjoy my meal.  (And by the way – we were there at 1:00pm. I can only imagine what it must be like at the dinner hour!)


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry March 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Ok, so the burgers were huge and fries excellent.maybe this restaurant isn’t meant for people that have lived in Ob for 50 yrs. you don’t like the noise? Go to kaiserhoff which is meant for the over 60 crowd who celebrates at shades which was as milk toast as you can get. As Dylan would say, the times are a changin


Liveinob March 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

So, from Larry’s comment I take it he must be one of the owners that doesn’t care about the OB community!
It’ll be sad to see the placed boarded up & closed come next fall!
See ya Larry!


Anna G March 25, 2017 at 11:30 am

Larry-why be so rude? Her critique was not based on age-anyone regardless of age like to have conversations. and of course you do realize Dylan is now 75?


judi March 20, 2017 at 3:35 pm

I didn’t say the hamburgers were particularly good. I said the fries were. It just seems to me that the louder the noise level the louder you have to talk. If you are a “youngster” I suggest you invest in hearing aid companies. People that continue to frequent these places will be good candidates as they age.

I don’t particularly like Kaiserhoff – but it is quiet if one wanted to celebrate a birthday or wedding. Milk Toast? We didn’t eat at the same Shades.


Jon March 20, 2017 at 3:48 pm

My comment in the other post probably deserves to be here instead. I’m in the under 40 crowd, but I will agree with Judi that the noise-level was kind of ridiculous. Everything else was great. We chalked up the noise to the fact the windows were all closed due to chilly weather and it created a lot of echoing. Hopefully they address that. Otherwise, we were all very pleased with the experience….

“We ate at the new OB Surf “Lodge” this weekend. It was pretty good. Nice to see familiar servers from Shades and other local spots. They paid homage to the previous owner with a “Dave’s Breakfast” item on the menu, and I finally realized that bird mascot is an OB Parrot and not a Puffin. The menu was really interesting, although the beer list left something to be desired (can we please stop including 20 different IPA’s on every tap list in town?). Finally, if nothing else, go treat yourself to the fried chicken strips. They are probably the best I’ve ever had. Ever.”


Matt Sharp March 20, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Out with the old, in with the new. I bet the reason all these loud restaurants catering to young people are popping up is because old people complain about paying $35 for a two person meal as opposed to the youth who think that it’s normal.


Michael Winn March 20, 2017 at 9:37 pm

Matt, you’re spot on about the experience of people who’ve been here for more than one generation. You’re possibly the 4th I’ve seen and I’m still in the game, “on the board”, as people used to say about two generations back. A ten dollar lunch feels pricy to me even though I’m aware of inflation because you’re usually getting the same thing or less and it’s costing your more–every year. Think of what you have to look forward to. The most significant pressures on restaurant prices must be rent and the interest on loans. As we know, wages have changed only slightly. Restaurant jobs are still regarded as minimum wage, ostensibly why it’s de rigueur to tip rideshare drivers, wait staff, hotel porters. Judi didn’t mention the tip in her column but knowing her as little as I do, I know because of her generation’s practices her waiter was happy about the opportunity to serve her. Her review notwithstanding, this place is probably cool because of the people who work there, regardless of the way interior noise competes with the pristine sound coming from jet liners passing a few hundred feet above. :)


Michael Winn March 20, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Afterthought: I don’t like noisy places except carnivals, like in Trinidad or Rio. There’s something about music that organizes sound such that, even though its at a hectic pace, loud and dissonant, it can still be good and often dance rhythms are. I tried playing in a samba batteria for part of a year and the rhythms of diaspora of West Africans, Dahomey, I think? inspires magical music of every culture it touches. Noise? What noise? Dance! You have to get very close to your partner in conversations, and I think that’s the point at this restaurant. They should hire a Latin percussionist.


Judi March 20, 2017 at 9:51 pm

There was no music. If there was the music it was overpowered by the noise of the patrons.


Fishing Widow March 20, 2017 at 7:02 pm

I think this review is a little unfair given ‘the sandwiches were huge and tasty, the French fries were wonderful, the service was good and the waitstaff was very patient’. You saw the prices for the burgers before you ordered. Not going back because it was too loud? I’ve read another review here in which the noise level was a complaint as well, but there was no mention of not going back because of it. The Arnold Palmers might have been already mixed, therefore they could’ve been out of lemonade but still had APs – not difficult to figure that as a possibility.


judi March 20, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Perhaps you misunderstood me, Widow. The sandwiches were huge – and tasty, but nothing that I would order from them again because I think that Hodad’s and Raglan’s are better. Of course I saw the prices before I ordered, but that was the price and I had no choice. Most of the items on the menu were of the same price. I will not patronize restaurants that are too loud – at any time. I no longer go to Wonderland for the same reason. (And I disliked the Warehouse for the same reason.) If I have not said it in my review before let me say it now. I go out for peace, enjoyment, and socialization. Yelling across the table is not conducive to my enjoying my meal. And as for the Arnold Palmer – the wait person never said they were premixed – just offered it as a possibility. And you may be right – but it was curious.


Beth Roach March 20, 2017 at 8:16 pm

Hi Judi…if you are looking for a place for quiet conversation in OB you might want to try Ulivo, next to Olive Tree Market. The food is good and the portions are generous. They have cozy booths that feel very private.


judi March 21, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Thanks Beth. I did a review of Ulivo shortly after it changed hands and it was a good review. I reviewed Pepe’s last week; Ulivo is on my list to “re-review” in the next coming weeks. I am thinking of the surprise birthday party my kids gave me at Shades a few years ago. There was 16 of us and it was fun. We were accommodated without any problem. I wish there was still someplace on the OB side that can do the same thing – good food; nice ambience; and a nice comfort zone.

Want to do the review with me at Ulivo’s?


Kevin March 20, 2017 at 9:28 pm

No offense Judi but most of your reviews seem to be quite negative. If you want a quiet and inexpensive meal, maybe consider getting the food to-go and having dinner at home. The Lodge has only been open a short time, they might need time to work out the kinks. It’s a shame you’ve written them off so quickly.


judi March 20, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Sorry Kevin. I call it the way I see it. The noise factor is not going to go away. They might remodel the counter that we sat at so that we can see the ocean, but it is just too damn loud. And as for the cost – I never said I wanted an inexpensive meal. I don’t mind paying for a meal that is good; but when it is only mediocre I object.


Jan Hall March 20, 2017 at 10:42 pm

My husband and I and our neighbors went to the Surfer Lounge last Monday. We were seated and already the men were ready to leave because of the noise level. We did stay and the food and service were pretty good but the noise level just got worse. Several of the staff have loud voices and were shouting back and forth to each other, in a friendly but loud way. We enjoy eating out with friends to enjoy not only the food and space but CONVERSATION. I spoke to the manager and he says they are trying to figure a way to deal with the problem. I wish them well but I doubt we’ll return.


Arlene March 21, 2017 at 6:54 am

I rarely respond or take part in this type of conversation but I felt the need to this time. I do not know Judi Curry but I appreciate her taking the time to review neighborhood restaurants and offering her opinion. I honestly don’t understand why anyone felt that her review was negative. She said that the food was good (in my opinion a B grade=good) but it was noisy. There are many people who prefer a quiet atmosphere while eating out and if so, perhaps this is not the place for them. There are also many people who enjoy a lively and loud environment so now they are informed and this may appeal to them. Maybe we should enjoy another opinion and then decide on our own if we want to give an establishment a try. Just my 2 (probably unwanted) cents……..


judi March 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Your opinion is valued – and, like mine, it is an opinion. Can’t get angry at opinions – only at stupidity.


John March 21, 2017 at 1:00 am

Maybe the reason its so loud is because its food is good (as judi admitted) and that means lots of people go there?
A tip for judi… go to places with horrible food. You will have all the peace and quiet you want.


Christo March 21, 2017 at 8:29 am

A lot of new restaurants go for the “Modern” look- which means lots of sound reflective things and minimal sound absorbing materials like carpeting, paintings, drop down ceilings, upholstery, etc.

It’s cheaper, louder and encourages faster table turnover.



Barfly March 21, 2017 at 11:05 am

Sapporo on Newport has a nice ambience. Cool music at low volume, perfect for out-of-town guests.


judi March 21, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Go there often. My Japanese student says it is authentic!


OB Dude March 21, 2017 at 11:19 am

If it has picnic style tables that says a lot. I give Judy credit for giving it a try.

More than likely the owners intent was not comfort but turnover?


Rudy March 21, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Well, once they banned beer on the beach, all these beach-side restaurants started catering to the drinking crowd. That Poblano Avocado Toast sounds good, but I can already picture waving the flies off my Bloody Mary.


judi March 21, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Interesting observation, Rudy. I never made the connection between banning alcohol on the beach to the influx of beer joints. You are probably correct.


Frank J March 22, 2017 at 7:22 am

I’m guessing the noise level wasn’t just electronic hip hop ‘midnight’ music as I like to call it. I am always amazed at places who crank it during lunch and afternoon happy hours when the crowds are usually a little older or tourists. May not apply here but my 2 cents.


Tyler March 22, 2017 at 9:52 am

“electronic hip hop ‘midnight’ music”



nicole March 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I’m in the 30ish age range, and while I don’t mind a loud restausrant, I think the problem with OBSL is that it’s EXACTLY like wonderland upstairs. We really hoped they’d go for something different – maybe an order-at-the-counter sit anywhere kinda thing… maybe craft beers and sandwiches… But alas it’s the same as Wonderland, meaning I will totally visit once a week cause damn if that view isn’t epic and he servers super nice, but will leave every time wishing for something NEW and innovative.


lisashook March 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

I always read Judy’s reviews and am SURPRISED to see her being ATTACKED for her personal opinion about this place. I have only lived in OB 15 years but when I go out to dinner I also prefer to be able to hear my the conversation at my table and not have the servers yell at me to take my order. While open windows do create a bit of extra noise its usually the wind the waves; not the loud music. Also, just because we are over 50 doesn’t mean we aren’t up for a fun time Larry. And we also aren’t unwilling to spend money to go out and have fun and support our community. Nicole is right; two wonderlands ?in the same place. Why couldn’t a new venue be made. Hey Widow, who premixes APs? Bad; fresh flavor is the key. Kevin, telling someone to stay home and have dinner because they write a review is pretty negative. Everybody wants OB to be GREAT. We are, however, entitled to our opinion. PEACE


judi March 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Nice. Thank you.


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