Indoor dining room
I only went to Gladstone's because I dragged my family out to Malibu to visit Cholada Thai and it was closed (they're closed on Mondays--I forgot). There aren't a ton of dining options in the area, so we forced my mom to deal with her bird phobia so we could all deal with our raging hunger. I can't accurately say that I regret the choice, since we didn't really have any other options on our very tight schedule, but I will say that the experience was far from ideal.
You can't argue with the view
If you're afraid of seagulls or want to eat all of your meal yourself, definitely don't sit outside. These birds have no qualms about coming right up to your table and stealing your food, as we observed. You won't lose much of the beachside experience by sitting inside if you can get a table by the window. The windows open and have screens, allowing you to enjoy the view and the breeze without the annoyance of the birds. It's also pretty chilly, even on a sunny, late summer afternoon, so bring a jacket.
Valet parking is required and costs $3. If you're going to the beach anyway, paying half the beach parking rate at a beach lot is a nice perk, but if you're just going to the (already overpriced) restaurant, the parking charge (with the accompanying expectation that you tip the valet) is just annoying.
Down Home Lobster Roll
My mom ordered the Down Home Lobster Roll. Even if I could eat shellfish, I wouldn't touch this mayonnaise sandwich with a ten foot pole. I don't think the delicate (and expensive) flavor of lobster was meant to be smothered with cheap glop like this. The potato chips were soggy.
I couldn't try this one either, but my father was not impressed. It's worth mentioning that our server didn't give a hoot about my shellfish allergy when I was trying to order. The menu is laden with shellfish, so if you're really allergic (I'm only slightly allergic), please don't eat here.
Grilled cajun fish tacos
Cajun? You have to be kidding me. The fish in these tacos was overcooked and tasted like it hadn't been seasoned with so much as a pinch of salt. The tacos came with beans and rice--both cold, both flavorless. I wasn't hungry enough to bother sending them back, though, and they weren't good enough to take home as leftovers.
Seagull-friendly beachside dining
I like to give a restaurant the benefit of the doubt, but in this case I just don't have any reason to. Based on my lousy experience, I'd say that Gladstone's relies entirely on their beachside location and ocean views to draw diners and tourists. Such mediocrity makes it all the more annoying that the website and menu are so full of hype. There's nothing like eating with an ocean breeze caressing your face, but the food and service at Gladstone's really aren't worth the high prices. For the same money, you could get some gourmet cheese and snacks at Whole Foods and have a picnic on the beach in a location that isn't an obnoxious bird magnet. For even less money and if it isn't Monday, you can enjoy some of the best Thai food in the city just up the street. If you get taken to Gladstone's against your will, save your hard-earned money and get by on a beer and a baked potato--it's hard to screw those up.
Gladstone's of Malibu (also known as Gladstone's 4 Fish)
17300 Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272