Sea Fresh
3550 Harbor Blvd., Oxnard

I have mixed feelings about Sea Fresh located in Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor. To begin with, the location is great at Marine Emporium Landing.

My first visit to Sea Fresh on a Saturday morning was a mixed bag. The outdoor, dog-friendly, patio seating was pleasantly un-crowded (if you don’t count the birds that, despite warning signs, swoop in for grub). A friend and I ordered at the inside counter and were told that our food would be served. We enjoyed the relaxing views of boats gliding by in the channel and kayakers gearing up for a morning on the water while waiting for our meal.

But we were practically impaled by a pigeon while dining on eggs Benedict with spinach (me) and a Baja omelet (my friend). The eggs were perfectly poached but the spinach was fishy-tasting and the homemade hollandaise was, according my notes, very strange. Home fries with bell pepper and onion hit it out of the park, but my English muffin was burnt. Strike one.

Still, I decided to return for lunch with another friend, a longtime fisherman, who was visiting his folks nearby. He told me he’d enjoyed Sea Fresh’s happy hour earlier that week with his family.

This Saturday, at high noon, the place was packed to the gills. Although the line at the order counter spilled out the door, it did move quickly.

Fresh sea bass with Parmesan truffle oil Brussels sprouts

A sign instructed us to secure a table before making our order — either a booth in the music- and laughter-filled/noisy indoor dining room or one of two outdoor patios. Matt snagged a table at the enclosed outdoor patio, thankfully free of swooping birds.

The menu choices are extensive — fresh fish “from the fryer” or “from the grill” (eight choices on each, grilled or blackened from the second); specials (pan-seared diver scallops, wild salmon, swordfish, etc.); lobster and crab; sides and “premium” sides. House favorites include macadamia-crusted halibut and wasabi-crusted ahi. There’s also a long list of sandwiches, salads, seafood tacos, sushi and sashimi, teriyaki bowls, stir-frys and linguinis. And, of course, kids’ meals ($6-$10) and desserts.

Crab-stuffed baked potato with Caesar salad

Matt settled on the crab-stuffed baked potato ($13), I ordered the fresh sea bass with two “upgraded” sides, Caesar salad and Parmesan truffle oil Brussels sprouts (around $27).

Despite a full house, and a huge birthday party group seated near us, our orders arrived in 15 minutes.

My sea bass was perfectly grilled — fresh, moist and, with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a dash of salt (I skipped the tartar sauce), perfectly delish. After giving Matt a few bites, he seemed to regret not ordering the same. The huge pile of large roasted Brussels sprouts were tasty and there were plenty of those to share. I found them slightly greasy, probably due to truffle oil; Matt didn’t mind. Our Caesar salads consisted of fresh, crispy Romaine lettuce with a slightly tangy dressing and good croutons.

“Pretty good for a cafeteria-style operation,” Matt opined.

Mat voiced some concern about the large quantity of cheese enveloping his baked potato and hiding the crab, (“That usually means they are skimping on something”) but said the crab was fresh and tasty and that his meal, which came with a Caesar salad, did its job of “filling him up.”

Sea Fresh, with the exception of the popular black granite-topped bar, can be a bit hectic when it is crowded. As Matt noted, it felt pricey ($50 for lunch for two, with one Coke, no alcohol), considering that we had to stand in line to order, grab our own silverware and tiny paper napkins and fill up our own soda drinks. Call me fussy if you like, but for that amount of dosh, I’d prefer to be waited on and be provided with cloth napkins.

That being said, you can get out more cheaply if you order a sandwich, tacos, a couple of sushi rolls or the teriyaki bowls (all average around $12), which sounded good.

Final thought from Matt, “Fish should always be eaten fresh.” And for this, we can vouch that the fish was very, very fresh as the restaurant’s name promises.