PICTURED: Bloody Mary from The Greek, enjoyed with a spectacular view of the harbor. Photo by N. Lackey Shaffer

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

nshaffer@timespublications.com

The Greek Mediterranean Steak and Seafood
1583 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 101, Ventura Harbor
805-650-5350
www.thegreekventura.com
$3-39


The Greek in Ventura Harbor is one of the first restaurants I visited when I moved to the area more than 20 years ago — and I have loved it ever since. There have been big, indulgent dinners with family and friends, where we feasted on spanakopita, succulent lamb, rich moussaka and more — sometimes, if we happened to hit it on a weekend night, while taking in a belly dancing performance. I’ve grabbed a light bite and drink before a harbor cruise, or even a nice lunch on a sunny day. But my favorite way to experience The Greek is over a long, drawn-out afternoon, shared with my closest friends over a big array of appetizers and a bottle of fragrant white wine, enjoying the boats, the breezes and the serenity of the seaside.

Just when I thought I’d seen all that The Greek had to offer, I wandered in one weekend morning . . . and realized that they serve breakfast, too. The sun was shining, the ocean was glistening and it was still early enough to beat the brunch crowd. My husband and I decided to take a seat on the restaurant’s famously large patio (with great views) and check it out.

I’ve long appreciated The Greek’s bar staff, which can whip up a dynamite martini or Manhattan. So even though I’m picky about my Bloody Marys, I felt confident ordering one. Good call: perfect blend of spicy and tangy, well seasoned, a hint of lime. Not only was it a great drink . . . and a great way to start the morning . . . it was on special for just $5.50. Possibly the best deal in town.

After a few sips of tomatoey goodness, it was time to think about food. The Greek’s traditional menu is pretty big: lots of appetizers, numerous pasta and seafood dishes, burgers, salads and so many wonderful Greek specialties. Smartly, the breakfast menu is more pared down: seven omelets, five “Egg Platters,” pancakes, French toast and breakfast sandwiches. Enough variety to have something for everyone . . . not so much that you get lost.

My husband ordered the Santorini Sunrise Bowl: potatoes, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions and peppers, all topped with two eggs over easy. Adding some slices of gyro meat — because gyros are one of our favorite things ever — he had a filling but wholesome, Greek-adjacent breakfast. All those fresh veggies added tons of flavor, the eggs were perfectly prepared (hard whites, soft yolks) and the gyro meat was a tasty treat on top. (I’m sure bacon would be lovely, too.)

Even though it was breakfast time, I found myself craving a gyro. So I split the difference and ordered the breakfast sandwich — which comes on a fresh, thick pita. It was filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, cheese, tomato, red onions and avocado. There’s an extra charge to add sausage or bacon; the waitress was happy to make that gyro meat for me. I highly recommend that others do the same — the seasoned, tender strips of gyro (80 percent beef and 20 percent lamb) go beautifully with eggs, and it satisfied that craving I had for Greek food. The breakfast potatoes served on the side were good, but proved to be too much for me.

Once we were done eating, we did what we usually do at The Greek: Gazed out at the boats in the harbor, savoring our drinks and enjoying the simple peace and pleasure of a flavorful meal enjoyed in a picturesque setting. For a brief time, the pandemic, the election and the stresses of everyday living blew away on the ocean breeze. I’m eager to find myself there again.