I was supposed to be a Valentine’s Day baby… how cute would that have been? Alas, I was three days early, so no personalized happy birthday conversation hearts for me. But, every once in a while, the proximity still works in my favor. Like this year. My boyfriend surprised me with a romantic trip to Catalina Island to celebrate my birthday and Valentine’s Day in one fell swoop. He even managed to keep it a secret for weeks (quite a feat for him) until a few bottles of wine the night before made his lips loose.
After taking a quick ferry ride from Long Beach, we finally arrived in Catalina. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t this gorgeous tropical-looking island! It felt like our little ferry somehow managed to speed us over to Hawaii (and wouldn’t that’ve been a happy accident!). Things only got better from there as we checked into the Hotel Metropole. Our room featured not only a fireplace, a jacuzzi tub and hardwood floors, but also our own private oceanfront balcony! We had an amazing view of the main strand and all of the boats.. it was perfect at sunset. And so were the appetizers! We had a great bottle of merlot with some triple créme brie and rosemary crackers before dinner.
Considering it was the off-season, exploring town didn’t exactly take much time. Many of the stores were closed and sadly, so were some of the better-rated restaurants. But, in the end, it turned out to be a positive. I’ve always heard Catalina described as a tiny town swarmed with fanny-pack laden tourists and their broods in tow. Instead, it felt like we were wandering around our very own private island! We ended up renting a “catalina limo” to check out more of the sights.
I really wanted to have dinner at Avalon Grill for two reasons: 1) yelpers love it, and 2) apparently they’re famous for their brussels sprouts! Anyone that knows me knows that I’m newly obsessed with brussels sprouts. I can’t believe I missed out on their roasted cabbagey goodness for so many years. It’s just sick. Sick and wrong. But anyway, back on topic… we ended up having dinner at our second choice restaurant, Steve’s Steakhouse. We had a couple cocktails at the bar (I had a piña colada- but c’mon, it’s a cruise ship port! It’s practically required!), courtesy of a really surly bartender, and were seated at a candlelit table right by the window. After a tasty Caesar salad and a perfectly cooked filet mignon, we finally checked out the dessert menu. And there it was. My favorite dessert of all time. Mud Pie. It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip.