The title of this post is something of a misnomer, as you cannot, of course, eat kitsch. If you could, though, Paradise Cove Beach Cafe would be sure to serve it up, in vast quantities, with maraschino cherries on top.
H1 and I spent the last week in California, getting some sun in (me*) and some training in (him*). This was what he wanted to do for his birthday week - fly clear across the country to spend his days getting up early and cycling up mountains. Who was I to deny him?
Thankfully, he's pretty** good at the cycling, especially when hills are involved, so we were able to make the most of our afternoons and check out what else California has to offer. We started, as you do, with a seafood dinner in Malibu.
Dining out in Malibu means driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and choosing from one of the countless shack-y restaurants along the coastline. There are a couple of nicer places, but neither H1 nor I was in the mood for fine dining. Why would you be, when you're in a place as perfectly stuck in the '70s as Malibu?
We went with Paradise Cove Beach Cafe for many good reasons, including the fact that it was highly rated on Yelp, and dining at Paradise Cove Beach Cafe gave you access to the beach*. Without a receipt indicating that we had eaten there, it would cost $30 to park by the beach. We found out why this is when we looked at the menu, and saw that the people who own the restaurant also used to own the beach, and almost certainly still do (the menu was a bit vague on this point). Coming from the land where the beaches belong to everyone, I've never thought people should be allowed to own beaches. $30 parking confirms this for me.
We didn't pay it though, because we ate! Which is obviously what they want, and was fortunately what we wanted also. It was a windy, overcast day in Malibu, so we hunkered down into a booth, and ordered drinks and snacks from our lovely, embarrassingly clichéd teenage Californian waiter.
We took our time with these, which is usually pretty difficult in American restaurants. If you're in a nicer place they'll probably want to turn the table at some stage. If you're in a diner-y type of place, they're used to people just eating and running. H1 and I don't bother going out unless we're going to dine****, which means we're used to sending the waiter away multiple times while we linger over entrées.
Paradise Cove Beach Cafe was no exception. I don't like seeing (and getting rid of) the waiter five times in half an hour, but I do understand why the waiters do it. Enough customers equate good service with speedy service that they've learnt their tips rely on it. I tend to just explain what we're doing, and make sure I leave a good tip to try to break that association in their minds. And, of course, I order mains - but only when we're good and ready.
Being in Malibu meant seafood was pretty much a given. H1 went with a swordfish burger, while I let the weather trick me into clam chowder. I LOVE clam chowder, especially when it's grey outside, but it's one of those dishes I'll almost certainly never make. I wouldn't be able to do it justice, because I'd see how much cream the recipe wanted me to add, find myself completely incapable of adding that much cream to anything, and end up with clam chowder that's just a bit disappointing.
This clam chowder was awesome - they did not skimp on the cream - but, having eaten clam chowder in four different cities now, I have to say that east coast beats west coast. Sorry, guys. Cape Cod's taking the trophy*****.
Overall, though, the meal was fab. FABULOUS. Whether that was down to the food or the kitsch, I'm a bit unsure, but considering that I'm now ready to get a tan, grow my hair long, buy a surfboard******, and move to Malibu, I suspect Paradise Cove did a bit of a number on me.
**RIDICULOUSLY good, I should say.
***Yes, Paradise Cove itself.
****There's a big difference between dining and eating. I try to not just 'eat' very often.
*****There is no actual trophy, so don't hold your breath, Cape Cod.
******Would you believe, these are all things that I'm totally unable to do. Well, I could probably buy a surfboard, but I wouldn't be able to use it for anything except decoration.