Deep End Destinations: The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey and its Very Posh Club Lounge. Plus Dinner By the Water at Cast & Plow.

ritz mdr champagne
Tiny bubbles in The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey Club Lounge.

Deep End Dining proudly launches a new section called Deep End Destinations featuring unique getaways, trips, and places in which to be pampered, challenged, or dazzled. These aren't necessarily strange or exotic destinations. They are, however, all special in their own way. So come along, and enjoy your stay!

Many of us know that The Ritz-Carlton is synonymous for luxury and hospitality. Each of the properties has its own distinct personality that suits the locale of the hotel. The Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey is going through a makeover to fine tune its appearance to better complement the famously leisure-loving neighborhood on the waterfront. One of the first changes made was to the hotel's restaurant. Formerly called jer-ne, the old restaurant's dark, funky, primarily red interior has been refreshed with a lighter, brighter look and is now named Cast & Plow. The furnishings, decor, and paler shades more reflect the relaxed, seaside community of the Marina.

ritz mdr cast plow lounge 1
The newly refurbished, relaxed lounge area of the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey.

I've stayed at plenty of fancy hotels in my life, but this was the first time I was given access to the private lounge as a guest. High-end hotels have this exclusive room for clientele who reside on certain floors. I experienced the concierge lounge called Craftsman's Club at Disney's Grand Californian Resort when I visited someone who was staying there. It was a room filled with creature comforts and treats emblazoned with familiar mouse ears or the Disney logo. The best feature of the lounge was a balcony view of the nightly fireworks display at Disneyland Park.

ritz mdr lounge balcony view
Lounge with a view.

The Club Lounge at Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey seemed to spare no expense to spoil its guests. In fact, my girlfriend and I had dinner reservations at Cast & Plow, but we were so content with the full bar, nibbles, and balcony vistas at the Club Lounge, we were late for dinner. The spacious room reminiscent of a wealthy man's study is quite seductive. Once you settle in, it's pretty difficult to pry yourself from the plush chairs and couches.

ritz mdr lounge library
Welcome to the Club Lounge at Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey.

We watched the sky slowly darken in hue as the sun sank into the horizon. We were on our second or third flute of champagne (who's counting?) before we realized that it was time to go downstairs for dinner.

ritz mdr club lounge door
The password is your keycard.

Eventually, we did make our way to Cast & Plow, the hotel's restaurant specializing in locally grown, sustainable, and organic cuisine with a modern California flair.

ritz mdr cast plow sign
A sign greets guests arriving to Cast & Plow.

Although the interiors of Cast & Plow manage to strike the right balance of refined and comfortable, the outdoor dining area on the patio facing the marina itself is where the dining experience needs to be had. Breathtaking harbor scenes of palm trees, yachts, and calm blue waters are just as soothing and intoxicating as the Scotch on the rocks resting before me.

ritz mdr cast plow scotch
Getting lost in Marina del Rey.

The row of tables closest to the water all have a fire pit decorated with ornate blue rocks as a centerpiece. One can easily become lost in this bliss and imagine never leaving, or, maybe living on one of the luxury boats for the rest of one's days with the Ritz-Carlton as a neighbor—at least that's what I was seriously pondering.

ritz mdr cast plow dining room
One of the exquisite dining rooms at Cast & Plow.

Cast & Plow's dedication to locally sourced ingredients isn't lip service. In fact, printed on the menu is a map of California with some of the listed ingredients pinpointing to the farm or region from which they originate.

ritz mdr cast plow menu
Cast & Plow's ingredients map on the menu.

Butter from Strauss Farm in Petaluma, berries from Harry's Berry Farm in Ventura, fish mainly from the Baja California coast are some of the good stuff going onto Cast & Plow's plates. Of course, reading the ingredients and actually tasting the food are two different things, so naturally we ordered a bit of everything.

ritz mdr cast plow fries
Cast & Plow's frites.

Frites. It's a no brainer. You see them on the menu. You order them. Cast & Plow's frites are decadent but not over-the-top. Seasoned with proven├žal herbs and duck fat hollandaise, the skinny fries burst with flavor and are definitely habit-forming.

ritz mdr cast plow pickled veg
Cannellini bean dip.

Cast & Plow's cannellini bean dip is the restaurant's take on hummus. Served with beautifully sliced carrots and radish, the dip is a great palate opener. Dunk the lavash for more traditional flavors.

ritz mdr cast plow shrimp
Little shrimp. Big flavors!

The tiny, wee rock shrimp really pack in a lot of flavor. Fried to a crunchy texture, the crispy rock shrimp are hard to resist especially when dipped into the Meyer lemon aioli. Another plate of these would've put me in shrimp paradise.

ritz mdr cast plow ceviche
Ceviche on ice.

Ceviche is pretty commonplace nowadays, and it's interesting to see how the dish is presented from restaurant to restaurant. Most of it is basically a bunch of chopped raw ingredients tossed with an acid-citrus marinade and simply plated. Cast & Plow brings a little pizzazz when displaying the scallop ceviche. It's a geometric art piece of a glass cone filled with ceviche sitting on crushed ice within a glass sphere. The scallops are mixed with a variety of goodies like Fresno chili, avocado, Marcona almonds, lime, and mint. The combination is a blend of bright, lively flavors and textures.

ritz mdr cast plow carrot gnocchi
Carrot gnocchi.

Super fresh potato pasta dumplings make up the carrot gnocchi. The texture is soft and chewy. Coat in the carrot puree sauce and it's a carrot party. English peas, sunflower sprouts, and pea tendrils add more freshness and textures. This is a great plate for those craving a hearty vegetable dish.

ritz mdr cast plow spring lamb
Spring lamb for summer.

I enthusiastically picked the spring lamb for my meat dish. It's a slow-braised shoulder served with asparagus, turnips, and farro, all drenched in a California Pinot sauce. This particular dish was delicious but quite rich and would've been improved with a fresh pasta underneath like pappardelle.

After dinner, we headed to our presidential suite on the same floor where the Club Lounge is located. A night cap in the Club Lounge sounded inviting, but, unfortunately, it was closed. And already, we were looking forward to the morning to see what tasty temptations would greet us in the lounge.

ritz mdr lounge breakfast
Breakfast is served in the Club Lounge.

The next morning, I practically sprinted the few doors down the hall to the Club Lounge. Visions of mimosas and bloody Marys danced in my head. Sugar plum fairies were replaced by the omelette station chef. Coffee was plentiful and hot.

ritz mdr view 1
The morning view from our suite.

Hot-off-the-press newspapers on that Sunday smelled of a splendid morning of leisure, the kind of morning I imagined every denizen of Marina del Rey was also having at that very moment. This was the good life, and I got a taste of it in a way that only the Ritz-Carlton knows how to serve it.

ritz mdr calif dream sign
Living the dream.

This was a stay-cation that I never wanted to end, so we returned to the room to stay some more. An extra late checkout was generously granted.

The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey
4375 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292