Tables lined up along the windows at One Pico
offer not only an ocean view, but also a glimpse of Santa Monica's
glitzy new Ferris wheel. Its complex computer system dials out the
colors, changing light patterns the way a kaleidoscope does when the
barrel is turned. In the foreground, palms nod their shaggy heads in
the breeze, and the sand below is dimpled with hundreds of footsteps.
Joggers streak down the beach as the waiter in a fitted vest pours
glasses of Guigal Viognier from the northern Rhône.
Something is different about the restaurant in Shutters on the Beach hotel in Santa Monica, and it's not just the reasonable wine prices or the interesting selection. To celebrate the iconic beach hotel's 15th anniversary, One Pico has undergone a much-needed makeover. And the powers that be have had the good sense not to go for a trendy restaurant-slash-lounge, but a comfortable and casual place with an updated California menu that emphasizes simplicity over complication, seasonal ingredients over the pricey and precious. It's a strategy that's bringing in locals along with summer's hotel guests.