ON THE PICTURE : Wild Thai Chili Shrimp from the Boatyard Pub in Ventura Harbor. Photo by N. Lackey Shaffer
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
1593 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura
With tasty surf, savory turf, craft cocktails and local beer, the Boatyard Pub is a great place to drop anchor and feast on hearty food. I recently took the plunge and enjoyed a late lunch at this steak and seafood restaurant in Ventura harbor, and now I’m wondering what took me so long to get here.
Two large patios – one on the sidewalk leading to the parking lot, another in an interior courtyard – allow for outdoor seating, where you can enjoy the cool ocean breeze. A spacious and beautiful dining room can also be enjoyed. As it was a particularly windy day, my friend and I opted for an upscale interior.
The interior resembles the captain’s quarters below deck: dim lighting, lots of wood and brass, comfortable and well appointed. Windows in the form of portholes, nets, anchors and other maritime elements continue the theme.
Even though it wasn’t quite happy hour, there were still quite a few flat-bellied people looking for a good beer and libations. Boatyard has plenty: I noticed several local IPAs (including Topa Topa Brewing and Poseidon), Anna’s Cider and a pilsner from Leashless Brewing among the 16 taps, a more than respectable selection. The wine options aren’t as extensive, but there are a few highlights, like the Justin rosé and a Castoro Cellars cabernet sauvignon.
It was the cocktail list – an entire page of the menu – that really caught our attention. Specialty cocktails cost between $ 10 and $ 15 and include all the classics as well as fun, tropical-inspired options, such as the Boatyard Zombie which is based on the original made famous by Don the Beachcomber.
There was a lot to tempt us, but we decided to go with the strawberry mojitos, which came almost instantly and were really, really refreshing. Kind of sipping work through a straw, with so much confusion, but I absolutely enjoyed the abundant use of fresh, ripe strawberries and mint. The bartender doesn’t go overboard with the rum, making it the perfect light summer sip.
The dining options are even more varied. Lots of fresh seafood, from tacos and fish and chips to platters of fins and shellfish to cioppino. If you’re feeling a spendthrift (think $ 50- $ 60), go for Alaskan King Crab or Maine Lobster. There are also steaks and kebabs, burgers, salads and even shepherd’s pie. This pub offers a lot of food from both land and sea.
Fresh seafood is one of the shipyard’s notoriety titles, so we tried the wild Thai chili shrimp appetizer. Easily our favorite part of the meal. Beautiful, big Pacific shrimp were first dipped in a lighter-than-air tempura batter and deep-fried, then topped with sesame seeds, furikake seasonings, and a deliciously spicy and sweet chili sauce. So delicious; we even ate the cabbage garnish.
My friend is a fan of fish tacos so for her the grilled ahi tacos were a must. She liked them and thought the spicy “da kine” sauce was a nice addition. . . but she felt they were overdressed. She could barely taste the fish itself – which was a shame, considering it was fresh sashimi-grade ahi.
However, we were both impressed with the teriyaki chicken kebabs. Juicy chunks of chicken thigh were grilled in a Hawaiian-style teriyaki, both salty and sweet. I might also add that the whole meal was very generous: three good sized skewers, plus a delicious pilau rice, a good side salad and garlic bread. More than enough for a very hungry bachelor. I couldn’t finish the plate, but I enjoyed the attempt. Beef and shrimp can also be skewered and grilled; can’t wait to try them on a trip home.
Boatyard Pub turned out to be the perfect landing for a quiet, rugged lunch with a good friend. The service was efficient and friendly, the food was well prepared and varied, and the bar has an impressive selection. The prices are a bit high, but for the quantity and quality it’s not outrageous. Hope to make the Boatyard Pub a regular stopover on future trips.