I've been here my entire life, over half a century. Just when I think I've seen it all, I marvel when I find a piece of Southern California I never knew existed.
That happened to me last week as I took Letty and Tim out to dinner in Newport Beach. I've been to Newport hundreds of times in my life and thought I had pretty much explored all of it but the beach had a new surprise for me.
Newport Bay stretches for a few miles from it's connection to the Pacific at Corona Del Mar inland almost all the way to John Wayne Airport. Most of the back bay is set aside for nature as wetlands but the outer bay is host to busy marinas, a small amusement park, an historic ferry, a few manmade islands and has been home to such luminaries as John Wayne, Dean Koontz, Humphrey Bogart, and Chuck Jones.
A boat tour leaving from the Balboa Pavilion is a nice, relaxing way to see some of the homes of the rich and famous.
We're here tonight because Tim hasn't had a good lobster roll since we visited Boston a few years ago. I've heard that the Bluewater Grill has them on their lunch menu at a not-too-unreasonable-for-California price of $18.95.
It's getting to Bluewater Grill that I find a piece of Newport Beach that has been missing from my puzzle...Lido Peninsula. Now I know Lido Isle and the little block of shops and cafes that surround its classic movie theater. I used to hang with a friend who lived on the little island but this part is new to me...I'd never even thought there was another neighborhood a block behind the theater.
At the end of a canal lined with multimillion dollar homes on one side, half-million dollar mobile homes on the other, and big yachts docked all along, there are a few restaurants lining the small turning basin here.
After finding a good parking spot in the lot (valet after 4pm), we head in and are given an outdoor table overlooking the water.
Bluewater charges no corking fee and I had some good wine at home. Some warm bread goes nicely with our Amador County souvenir. Tim orders his roll, Letty the cioppino, while this non-seafood lover gets the thyme/garlic roasted chicken.
The dinner is delicious. Tim and Letty devour their dishes and I'm glad to report the chicken was outstanding...usually the non-seafood dishes at a seafood restaurant are at most an afterthought. Here, they are prepared with as much care as the ocean dwelling creatures.
It's also helpful to note the good food at a restaurant with a view, which breaks another stereotype.
Completing the meal with some sweet desserts, we take a stroll through the neighborhood watching the locals have little wine and cheese parties on their electric boats.
I'll have to remember this place. The traffic was a nightmare, coming and going, today but the destination is fantastic plus the beach is just yards away.
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