Off the Menu: Hooked on Seafood at Bluewater Grill

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By Christopher Trela and Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

“Ever been to Catalina Island?” I asked Catherine several weeks ago.

“No, always wanted to,” she replied.

“Me too–I’ve lived here most of my life and have never been,” I admitted. “But we’re invited to dine at the new Bluewater Grill in Avalon, so I think we should go.”

“The same Bluewater that’s here in Newport?”

“The same.”

“When can we go? How do we get there?” she asked.

“We’re free the first Sunday in October, and we go on the Catalina Flyer. It’s an easy day trip.”

“Sounds good to me.”

The view from Bluewater Avalon
The view from Bluewater Avalon

So last Sunday morning, we boarded the Catalina Flyer from the Balboa Fun Zone and 90 minutes later found ourselves strolling the streets of Avalon.

After a tour of the Pavilion Hotel and its lush grounds, we walked across the street to Bluewater Grill for lunch.

“I read up on Bluewater,” I told Catherine. “It’s in a historic building where the SS Avalon and SS Catalina steamers used to dock. Half of the 250 seats are on the 3,000-square-foot waterfront patio. And I think they serve the same warm loaves of sourdough bread as the Newport location.”

Upon being seated, we ordered two signature cocktails and perused the menu.

“What are the more popular items on the menu?” we asked our server when she brought our drinks and bread.

“The fish and chips are really popular, and the fish tacos.”

We ordered both, then sat back and enjoyed the slow pace of “island time” and the sensational view of Bluewater Catalina 2the harbor.

Our food arrived and we dug in.

“The fish and chips are terrific,” I enthused. “The fish is not greasy like you find at some fish restaurants, and this is a rather generous portion of fries.”

“You’re right–some of the best fish and chips I’ve had,” agreed Catherine. “And the fish tacos are really flavorful. And I love this bread.”

“I knew you would,” I said with a laugh.

After lunch we made our way to the Descanso Beach Club, but had no time to enjoy the club’s luxurious amenities as we were due to take a Zip Line Eco Tour, which was exhilarating, exciting and wildly fun (more about the tour in a future column).

Bluewater 5We reluctantly boarded the boat back to Balboa, but two days later we found ourselves back at Bluewater Grill–this time at the Newport location to try the restaurant’s special seafood tasting event (held the second Tuesday of every month).

This evening was the Roasted Oyster Roundup ($24.95): a dozen fire-roasted Mendocino oysters served three ways–Pacific Rim-style with Thai green curry, Provencale-style with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and original Mendocino-style with spicy-sweet barbecue sauce.

I also had a pint of Firestone ale, while Catherine sipped a glass of Pinot Grigio.

We also sampled oysters Rockefeller ($9.95 for four), oysters on the half shell ($13.50), and three appetizers: pan fried oystersBluewater 4 ($9.50), calamari fritti ($10.95) and seared scallops ($12.95).

“That’s a lot of oysters,” I exclaimed when the order arrived.

After sampling the variety of dishes, we agreed that our favorites were the Mendocino-style and the pan-fried, although I quickly polished off all six of the oysters on the half shell and ate most of the oysters Rockefeller.

“I really enjoyed the scallops too–the sauce had a nice kick to it,” noted Catherine. “And the calamari was big enough for an entree.”

“I also noticed you liked the sourdough bread,” I teased.

“Yes I did,” she said with a smile.

“Don’t worry–we’ll be back in November for the annual ‘Stuff a Lobster’ event.”

Note: The Roasted Oyster Roundup was available only on October 8, but diners can order some Mendocino-style oysters off the menu through the end of October.

For more information on Bluewater Grill, visit


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