C O N T A C T
D I N I N G R O O M
B R U N C H
L U N C H
R O O F T O P L O U N G E
L I V E M U S I C
H A P P I E S T H O U R
by Shirley Firestone
for Entertainment Today
Watermark Restaurant is in an Iconic Historic Building taking the seaside community dining scene to a new level. It's housed in one of the most splendid buildings in all of Ventura, complete with a remarkable and intact 1920’s interior. It also brings a sophisticated dining experience to the beach town.
After an 18 month-long meticulous restoration of the hand-painted plaster ceilings, original murals, arts-and-craft tile work and mahogany woodwork, the restaurant opened.
Watermark may celebrate the past but it firmly embraces the future. In addition to the main dining room on the ground floor and seating on the mezzanine level, the restaurant literally “raises the bar.” It's rooftop, glass enclosed lounge and bar featuring a retractable ceiling offers spectacular ocean and mountain views, and will double as a unique open-air music venue.
“The project, besides being a landmark in Ventura and one of the most beautiful buildings in the county, provides an opportunity to bring world-class dining to the Central Coast,” According to Mark Hartley, owner of Watermark. “Our hope and intention is that the restaurant will attract people from out of the area to visit Ventura.”
On the ground floor booth there's table seating beneath oversized windows and beautifully preserved 1928 murals. The right side of the room offers a mahogany bar area, and in the back, extensive wine cabinets. That’s also where you will find the bank’s original vault protecting high-end spirits and liqueurs.
In addition to dining tables that overlook the main floor through the exquisite original wrought iron railings, the mezzanine level ‘wine loft’ has a fireplace and a private dining room suitable for wine tasting and special functions.
Overall, the design of Watermark reflects its history in a color scheme that's warm, golden and inviting, with rust and green walls and golden marble floors of copper inlays. Iron and mica chandeliers, amber glass sconces and an under-lit gold onyx bar illuminate the room. Booths are upholstered in rich brocade with cognac leather seats, and burgundy velveteen draperies that soften the nine-foot high windows.
In contrast, the rooftop bar and lounge, is decidedly contemporary; a study in blues and silver, echoing the skies and ocean that surround the restaurant, certain to become a meeting place of choice, serving lunch, a small plate menu and late night dining.
Surrounded by water and fire features, guests are invited to relax in intimate seating areas at both booths and tables. Also featured is a private dining room perfectly suited for meetings, complete with a drop down flat screen and its own ocean view terrace.
According to Jim Rice, Managing General Partner, “Watermark will allow us to provide a five-diamond experience in an unpretentious elegant setting." “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a restaurant to be in a building like this in a community surrounded by the best ingredients in the country.”
Executive Chef Greg Kurtz heads up the kitchen, coming from another of the group’s Ventura restaurants, the popular (Westside Cellar). “Locally inspired cuisine will be the focal point of the menu where one can see the ocean surrounded by small grower and sustainable farms. What we can source locally will be a determining factor as to what appears on the menu and as a result, some items will change daily,” explains Kurtz. “Overall, the menu will be contemporary regional American cuisine, featuring a balance of fish, steaks and other meat dishes, along with the freshest seasonal vegetables.”
Watermark Restaurant is housed in one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Ventura. Originally built in 1907 to house the Ventura Power Company, the building was extensively remodeled in 1928 as the elegant brick building it is today. Combining Spanish Colonial revival design with influences of Zig-Zag Art Deco, the stunning edifice artfully pairs terra cotta bricks with Malibu style ceramic tile. Inside, the hand-stenciled ceilings and wood paneling might remind you of Hearst Castle. The murals, painted by renowned La Jolla based artist Norman Kennedy depict early life at the Santa Buenaventura Mission. Architects responsible for the 1928 transformation were John C. Austin and Frederic M. Ashley, whose other work includes the Griffith Observatory, the Shrine Auditorium and the Los Angeles City Hall.
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday, Watermark is located at 598 Main Street, at the corner of Chestnut Street, in Ventura’s vibrant historic district. For reservations call 805 643 6800. http://www.watermarkonmain.com/