Watermark on Main

598 East Main Street

**Sorry, the Watermark is Closed**

If anything signals that our sleepy little beach community has turned a new page, it’s the new swanky upscale restaurant on the corner of Chestnut and Main Street. Watermark on Main is the collaboration of long time resident, Mark Hartley and new-in-town Jim Rice. With Mark’s expertise in Ventura historical real estate and Jim’s restauranteur background, they have managed to create a posh dining establishment that celebrates Ventura’s heritage.

Offering American cuisine such as Pan Seared Chicken Tapenade and Lobster Pot Pie, the menu is as pricey as the names of these dishes suggest. But the unique dining experience is well worth it. When you first enter the restaurant your eyes are immediately drawn up towards the vaulted ceiling with intricate woodwork and ornate inlays. The decorative iron railing, dark woods and soft lighting takes you back to early California when most land was owned by rich Spanish settlers. The three murals that overlook the dining area were originally painted in 1928 by muralist, Norman Kennedy. The murals represent life in a mission village (incredibly these murals were plastered over for nearly 30 years!).

It’s hard not to be drawn in by the Watermark’s stunning architecture. The second floor offers cozy fireplace seating and terrace seating overlooking the bar area and out into Main Street. From the second floor, you can also get a better look inside the glassed walled elevator shaft at the striking Ventura photographs taken by Karen Hartley, Mike’s wife.

During our dining experience, we found the service was prompt and attentive and what you’d expect at a top notch restaurant. Our dinner bread basket came with three choice toppings: garlic butter, an olive dip and sun-dried tomato spread. But I especially liked the avocado vinaigrette that came with our pre-dinner salad which they kindly split for us. For the main entree, Michael chose Grilled Mahi Mahi, topped with coconut curry sauce and accompanied with sticky mango rice. The slightly mango flavor from the rice combined with the curry sauce made a perfect blend of spice and sweet which didn’t overpower the flavor of the Mahi Mahi.

I chose the Filet Mignon, which was an extremely tender cut drizzled with cracked pepper demi-glaze and topped with shredded green onions. The Parmesan crusted risotto cakes and creamy vegetable squash made flavorful side dishes. Dessert consisted of cheesecake stuffed strawberries incased in Belgium dark chocolate for me and the Chocolate Torte for Michael. We usually split dessert too but the portions are not big enough to share, which worked out well anyway since we got to sample two separate heavenly desserts.

After dinner we made our way up to the third floor where the W2O lounge was hopping and standing room only! Mark’s 32-year connection with the music industry (which includes being the Chairman of The Academy of Country Music) makes this lounge a popular spot day or night with top talent performers so it’s worth snagging your spot early.

The watermark also offers a brunch menu. Dress codes are enforced after 5pm every day except Sunday. For men this means collared shirts. T-shirts, shorts, beanies or baseball hats are not allowed either. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Reservations are highly recommended.

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