PICTURED: Wild Thai chili shrimp from Boatyard Pub in Ventura Harbor. Photo by N. Lackey Shaffer
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
1593 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura
With savory surf, tasty turf, crafty cocktails and local ale, the Boatyard Pub is an excellent place to drop anchor and chow down on some hearty grub. I recently took the plunge and enjoyed a late lunch at this steak and seafood restaurant in Ventura Harbor, and I’m wondering now what took me so long to get here.
Two large patios — one on the sidewalk leading to the parking lot, another in an inner courtyard — allow for outdoor seating, where you can enjoy the cool ocean breezes. A spacious and handsome dining room can be enjoyed as well. As it was a particularly windy day, my friend and I opted for a high-top inside.
The interior has a feel akin to the captain’s quarters below deck: low lighting, lots of wood and brass, comfortable and well appointed. Windows shaped like portholes, nets, anchors and other maritime elements continue the theme.
Even though it wasn’t quite happy hour, there were still several people bellied up to the bar, looking for good beer and libations. Boatyard has those aplenty: 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. Wine options aren’t as extensive, but there are a few standouts, 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 eye. Specialty cocktails run $10 to $15 and include all the classics plus some fun tropical-inspired options, such as the Boatyard Zombie that 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 up almost instantly and were very refreshing indeed. Kind of some work to sip through a straw, with so much muddled up in it, but I absolutely appreciated the ample use of fresh, ripe strawberries and mint. The bartender doesn’t go overboard with the rum, making this the perfect light summer sip.
Food options are even more varied. Lots of fresh seafood, from tacos and fish and chips to fin- and shellfish platters to cioppino. If you’re feeling spendy (think $50-60), go for the Alaskan king crab or Maine lobster. There’s also steak and skewers, burgers, salads and even shepherd’s pie. This pub offers plenty of grub from land and sea both.
Fresh seafood is one of the Boatyard’s claims to fame, so we gave the wild Thai chili shrimp appetizer a go. Easily our favorite part of the meal. Big, beautiful Pacific king prawns were first dipped in a lighter-than-air tempura batter and deep fried, then topped with sesame seeds, furikake seasoning and a delectably spicy-sweet chili sauce. So delicious; we even ate the cabbage garnish.
My friend is a fish taco fan, so for her, the grilled ahi tacos were a must. She liked them, and thought the spicy “da kine” sauce was a good addition . . . but she did feel they were overdressed. She could barely taste the fish itself — which was a shame, considering it was fresh, sashimi-grade ahi.
We were both impressed by the teriyaki chicken skewers, however. Juicy hunks of chicken thigh were charbroiled in a Hawaiian-style teriyaki, which was equal parts savory and sweet. I might also add that the entire meal was very generous: three sizable skewers, plus a lovely rice pilaf, a decent side salad and garlic bread. More than enough for a very hungry single person. I was unable to finish the plate, but I enjoyed the attempt. Beef and shrimp can be skewered and grilled as well; looking forward to trying those on a return trip.
Boatyard Pub turned out to be the perfect landing for a leisurely, hardy lunch with a good friend. The service was efficient and friendly, the food was well prepared and diverse, and the bar boasts an impressive selection. The prices are a little on the higher side, but for the quantity and quality, it’s not outrageous. I hope to make the Boatyard Pub a regular port of call on future excursions.