A great and inexpensive escape at the Ventura Harbor
By Michael Sullivan 03/15/2012
1559 Spinnaker Drive
Happy hour 4-7 p.m., Weekdays
$2.25-$4 beer, wine and
well mixed drinks
There aren’t many things more relaxing than watching boats gently rocking while docked. After a long day of work, enjoying cocktails and dinner at the Ventura Harbor can be quite the escape from the ordinary. So it comes as no surprise that Brophy Brothers happy hour draws in a crowd — cheap drinks, tasty seafood vittles and a view that could calm any anxious soul.
We decided to head over to happy hour early on a Friday night (4:30), only because we had seen and heard about how tough it is to land a spot at the bar. We were in luck; two seats were open, though my companion had a decent struggle in holding an empty seat. She received quick service with her drink, but as she told me the happy hour beers that were offered, I wasn’t too impressed with the selection, at least, what was on the happy hour menu: Budweiser, Bud Light and Coors Light. As most know, none of these would suffice for a fine-tuned hoppy palate, so I was happy to know that Firestone Double Barrel Ale, an English pale ale, and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company hefeweizen, were also offered at happy hour prices ($3.75) though neither was on the menu. (I would have opted for water if that had not been the case.)
With our drinks, we ordered ceviche, oysters Rockefeller and the fried scallops, priced between $5 and $6. The ceviche was first to arrive — chunks of red snapper with diced fresh tomatoes and onions, garlic, chopped cilantro and fresh squeezed lemon. Though the snapper was a little fishy for my taste, the ingredients accentuated each other as any well prepared ceviche should. The only downfall — I desperately wanted to spice it up and did so with Tabasco, making it way too hot for my companion.
The oysters Rockefeller, however, took happy hour to a new level. There are plenty of happy hours that offer fried foods and similar bar eats, but a baked creamy spinach and onion mixture with a hint of garlic topped with jack cheese, atop six large oysters, presented over rock salt with creatively carved lemon — it was comfort food with a rich, royal twist. If you fancy something original in happy hour fare, then you can’t go wrong. Rich and creamy like a high-calorie Italian dish, we gobbled them down along with our guilt for splurging as well. Fair warning, though, you must like oysters. Slightly chewy and dense, you can’t miss the obvious taste of the sea.
Next up were the fried scallops — bite-sized flaky scallops, lightly battered in what tasted like a cornmeal mixture, served with tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. The coating was just right as it didn’t detract from the almost sweet flavor of the scallops, but the scallops could have been a bit hotter as ours was only slightly warm. All in all, though, it rounded out our happy hour experience just perfectly.
The happy hour menu, however, offers more than most that I have seen. It includes four different shrimp dishes, three clam dishes, steamed mussels, fried calamari and fish and chips and just that many more reasons to go back. Given that nothing is more than $6.25, it fits right into a slim budget for dining out, but you must sit in the bar area or happy hour doesn’t apply.
As we finished up our meal, we noticed that the bar wasn’t as crowded an hour later though happy hour lasted from 4 to 7 p.m. Maybe the early crowd was leaving and the late crowd was on its way. Whatever the case may be, the friendly bartenders, fast service, overall cleanliness of the restaurant and a view to put all our worries on the back burner makes Brophy Brothers happy hour an experience to try again and again.