Rhumb Line
1450 Anchor Way Drive, Ventura
$6 – $37

Don’t count on Siri if you don’t know where the upscale, but casual seafood restaurant Rhumb Line is — she might just think you’ve arrived, before you get there! Human directions, and one U-turn later, we found our way to this attractively appointed restaurant with fabulous views in Ventura Harbor.

The view

A friend and I were heading back to Ventura after a long, five-hour drive from the U.S.-Mexican border. Our stomachs were growling by 3 p.m. and happy hour beckoned.  Rhumb Line’s version of happy hour is seven days a week from 3-7 pm. Isn’t that cool? Although they advertise “fresh seafood with a twist” (a local later raved about the ahi tacos) we sampled other items on the happy hour menu.

We settled into tall chairs at one of the seven tall “high-top” tables that seat two to six guests, and perused the choices.

Grilled octopus appetizer in butter, garlic and bits of chopped seaweed and a few chili flakes.

We each ordered a margarita ($8 for cocktails at happy hour). We were happily surprised when super tall, lemonade size glasses were set before us. But we were not so happy to discover that our drinks were very sweet. Too sweet, in fact, for our taste. But the super friendly bartender provided a small carafe of fresh lime juice and ice and even offered to remake our drinks.

The happy hour menu ($5-10) at this popular establishment offers a wide variety of choices: Fanny Bay oysters, calamari, ahi tuna tacos, popcorn shrimp, Szechuan style baby back riblets and a few flatbreads. We chose the lamb sliders and the caprese flatbread.

The tasty lamb sliders (two, we shared) turned out to be a good choice: fat little ground lamb patties, the size of swollen golf balls, were stuffed between wonderful, soft and crunchy brioche buns (grilled on one side) with arugula, melted goat cheese and a tasty tomato jam — accompanied by yummy, crunchy French fries. The Italian-style flatbread had a thick and hearty base topped with large tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, pesto and basil. Other flatbreads include a chorizo sausage or simple bianca, with olive oil, oregano and Parmesan cheese.

Paul V., server at Rhumb Line, with a selection of desserts.

The lunch and dinner menus are constantly changing but starter choices ($12-16) include jumbo shrimp cocktail, grilled octopus, steamed clams, mussels marineire, ceviche and tuna poke, among other items. If there’s a non-seafood lover or vegetarian in your crowd, choices include a Mediterranean sampler with hummus.

A shared grilled octopus appetizer swimming in butter, garlic and bits of chopped seaweed and a few chili flakes, was superb. My dining companion ordered the blackened salmon. I love sand dabs, and although these were delicious and there were plenty of them covered with a garlicky cream sauce. Accompanying my sand dabs: a great panoply of veggies that included asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots and roasted potatoes. My companion’s tasty salmon (a hit) came with “real” mashed potatoes and green beans.

Dinner fish entrees run $24-37 (wild Alaskan halibut at the high end), making this a special-occasion restaurant for most of us. Meat eaters will discover that Jimmy’s Rock ’n’ Roll Rib Eye with mushroom risotto rings in at $42. Mac and Cheese for $14 may be a more affordable fit.

Dessert was disappointing. Despite sharing and finishing a large slice of carrot cake, it was overly sweet and not homemade.

If you aren’t into Happy Hour or a dinner splurge, Rhumb Line’s weekend lunch-brunch offers the same fab views over traditional breakfasts offerings that include pancakes, waffles, eggs and sausage, eggs benedict and omelets ($12 -$14). 

Dining on the patio might be the next best thing to dining on your own yacht, without the seasickness — and you can even bring Fido.

Rhumb Line calls itself both “the sunset restaurant” and a “taste and tales …” place, which sounds like a winning combination. I imagine that tall fishing tales are exchanged at the bar more often than not, and after a couple of cocktails, well hell, who cares about the bill?

Plans are apparently in the works to reorient the bar to face the lovely Ventura Harbor channel sometime in the near future as well as make some menu changes. Time will tell.

In case you are wondering what a rhumb line is — it’s not a rum drink or even a line dance, but a navigational measurement that’s a bit hard to comprehend or explain. Just ask Siri, and see what she says.