The Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar
3500 Harbor Blvd, Oxnard
The Waterside Grill and Wine Bar in the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard has been around for a while, but it went under new ownership last August. A new chef, Jeff Rodriquez, was hired in November, and has been making the dinner and happy-hour menu his own. The Waterside is owned by the same folks who own Rhumb Line (reviewed in these pages recently) in the Ventura Harbor and has a similar vibe, menu and harbor views, but The Waterside has a more industrial interior. The exposed open ceiling with AC pipes is painted black; the floor is concrete.
My aunt and cousin recently met me for a midweek lunch. Despite the May gray/June gloom, the views of the working boats in the harbor pleased and our lunch was a “thumbs up” all the way around.
The chef, Jeff, came out and told us he had pork ribs and a “secret dish” for lunch — sand dabs (which are on the dinner menu). He recommended the chicken salad sandwich or Cuban sandwich consisting of pulled pork, applewood ham, pickle and pepper jack cheese on a baguette roll from the lunch menu.
My cousin ordered “Diablo shrimp” — half a dozen shrimp in a spicy red sauce that she deemed a “flavor burst” that definitely awakens one’s taste buds and a small Caesar salad. My 88-year old aunt almost finished her gigantic chicken salad sandwich that came with a crunchy mountain of delicious homemade potato chips. None of us could resist the homemade potato chips. The chicken salad included dried cranberries, pecans and fresh grapes, lots of lettuce and a nice big slice of ripe red tomato. She did have a heck of a time wrapping her hands around the dripping sandwich.
“Some things are worth the mess,” proclaimed my aunt, who left barely a nibble behind.
My sand dabs were delicious with a lemony caper sauce over mashed potatoes accompanied by the tastiest slow-roasted vegetables from local farmers that included parsnips, carrot, celery and Swiss chard. I’d come back for a plate of these.
There were soups — roasted onion marsala or bacon potato (special that day). Homemade clam chowder is always available on Fridays; I would return to try this as well.
Dinner specials on the chalkboard on the day we visited included branzino, linguine scampi, filet mignon, roasted prime rib and sand dabs. On the regular dinner menu, the appealing sounding “A Taste of the Mediterranean” entrees ($18-$25) — moussaka, biftekia, yemista and a trio of pies. But I can’t vouch for these as a girl can only eat so much. Appetizers in the same vein include feta delight, roasted artichoke and Mediterranean salad. There’re burgers, if that’s your thing, “The Godfather” (spaghetti and meatballs), slow-braised short ribs — heck, there’s something for just about everybody here.
I returned for the affordable happy hour for a friend’s birthday. She brought her pooch, who was welcome on the patio. The menu is long, some 20 items ($8-$10); carnitas, steak and chicken tacos, fish and chips, flatbreads, cauliflower steak and those fiery diablo shrimp. There’s seared ahi tuna ($6), which you can turn into sliders with fries (+$2). And it’s happy hour, so specially priced cocktails ($8), wine ($5) and beer ($4-6).
My friend Susan ordered the tuna tower, a very pretty presentation and tasty — although more chopped raw veggies (avocado, bell pepper, cucumber) than tuna in the mini-tower. The waitress made an honest mix-up and brought a grilled/white wine/Parmesan artichoke (a bit hard to eat with its Parmesan crust), but kindly removed the charge from our bill.
The pièce de résistance was the finger-licking pork ribs, as tasty as they were attractively plated. A sticky sweet sauce, sesame seeds and scallions added the perfect mix of flavors. Run, do not walk, for these.
Dessert choices included apple pie à la mode, crème brulée and beignets with maple syrup and bacon. I cannot vouch for any of these, but I bet the beignets are killer!
Guests can dine indoors or outdoors — both offer harbor views and the patio is doggie-friendly. There are two high, communal tables in the bar area and a full bar. In addition to cocktails (specialties can include drinks like Berry Collins, Passion Fruit Mule and Coconut Mango Mojito), there is an extensive wine-by-the-glass list — $6-$12.
Music varies — it was Aerosmith when we arrived; we asked for something mellower and got Van Morrison.
Don’t be in a hurry when you dine here; service is friendly but slow.
Just order a cocktail, drink in the views and chillax. Dinner will be on it’s way.