“You’ve never been to The Galley?” asked fellow scribe Lynn Selich after a recent Newport Beach Indy morning staff meeting. “And you live in Newport?”
It’s true. Of course, Stasha has an excuse—she’s from L.A. But I’m from OC, and the fact that The Galley is something of a local legend somehow escaped my culinary radar. It’s been a hidden Newport Beach gem for more than 50 years, and was one of John Wayne’s favorite breakfast spots.
“If it’s good enough for The Duke, it’s good enough for me,” I said to Stasha in my best John Wayne voice.
“I hope the food is better than your impression,” she said with a laugh.
“I guess we’ll find out,” I replied.
We found our way to The Galley, which is on the water overlooking Balboa Island, next to a boatyard and marina. Upon entering the restaurant, we discovered an unpretentious, old-school diner that probably has changed little over the last five decades. The space is cramped, with a handful of booths and a short row of counter stools providing the only seating options. We grabbed two open stools, plopped ourselves down at the Formica counter, and perused the menu.
“This looks pretty basic, which means it’s probably really good,” I said.
“At least they have egg whites,” noted the health-conscious Stasha.
Apparently the specialty is a chili-covered omelet, but we passed on that indigestion-inducing delicacy. I opted for a Denver omelet, while Stasha went for an egg white omelet with spinach and mushrooms. We added two cups of Joe and sipped the hot coffee while soaking up the ambiance, trying to read the faded newspaper articles about John Wayne that hung on the wall.
After a short wait our breakfast arrived, and I could see why The Duke enjoyed dining here. This was classic comfort food, and plenty of it.
“This is just what I needed,” stated Stasha as she dug into her meal.
“Indeed,” I agreed while stuffing a large forkful of food into my mouth.
We finished breakfast in record time. The bill came, and I started to slide my credit card onto the counter until I saw a sign that read “Cash Only.” Good thing I had hit the ATM that morning.
With enough ammo in our bellies to handle a posse, we paid our tab and left the Galley, knowing we’d found a restaurant that The Duke would say had “True Grit.”
The Galley is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and does not take reservations or credit cards. It’s at 829 Harbor Island Drive, (949) 673-4110.
En Garde for Swordfish
My windowless office was starting to get to me, so I asked Chris to recommend a place for a quick business lunch.
“My requirements are seafood, quick service, and marina/outdoor dining.” I told him. “Before I head back to my dark cubicle, I need sea air and sunshine.” .
“I’ve got just the place.” Chris said. He recommended the Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar, located on Lido Peninsula at the former site of The Sea Shanty and Delany’s.
Bluewater Grill is a classic fish house that has items to satisfy any craving or budget, but right now the haute seafood du jour is harpooned swordfish. What’s so special about this? Bluewater Grill has their own deep-sea vessel fish the local waters between Catalina and San Clemente Island to deliver mature swordfish the same day via special on-board blast refrigerators.
Excited about trying this high-quality “Gladiator Fish” but enthralled by all the other seafood choices, I suggested to Chris we share a few items from the menu. We started with Bluewater Grill’s famous oyster shooters in tomato, cucumber and wasabi, followed by the Shrimp and Crab Louie Salad, which was loaded with seafood. I was excited to see Old Bay Seasoning on the table and explained to Chris that this was the seafood spice of choice back east.
“I haven’t seen this in ages. I grew up along the Chesapeake, and you put Old Bay on everything. Everything,” I said, sprinkling it over my salad with a heavy hand.
We decided to split a glass of Ferrari-Carano 2009 Fumé Blanc, and its citrus, mango, and vanilla notes complemented our selections perfectly.
Our entrée arrived and I looked up at Chris after my first bite.
“If I’d known how good this Blackened Swordfish with citrus salsa was going to be, I seriously would have ordered my own.”
“I seriously wish you had,” Chris stated as he watched the meaty, tender and terrifically spicy fish disappear from the plate.
Swordfish season runs for a limited time, so rush to Bluewater Grill soon. However, be prepared to protect your portion. Call (949) 675-FISH or visit BluewaterGrill.com.