It only took till the middle of August for me and my wife to discover the great summer attributes of Charlie’s Boat Yard at the Outer Harbor. First of all, the new remodel means that it’s pretty much a brand new restaurant, which is refreshing. Honestly, I kind of gave up trying to find a casual waterfront eatery along the Outer Harbor because… this place is pretty much it (incredibly), and I’ve never been impressed with the food options. But since they went all in on the remodel, building a new dining facility, I figured that it was probably time to give it another chance. And I’m so glad that we did.
The interior of the new two-story restaurant looks pretty awesome. It actually reminds me of something that you might see in Nantucket – sitting inside, with the garage doors open to the marina… nice and wide open, with plenty of sunshine and a breeze off the lake. There are lots of wood accents, along with a sweeping wood floor. There’s also a nice sized bar on the first floor, and a smaller service bar on the second floor.
Instead of sitting inside on the particular day that we went for lunch, my wife and I chose to eat out on the patio, near the deck bar. But we were told that it would be a short wait, so we ordered a couple of drinks inside and waited. I was happy when they put an eco straw in my Bloody Mary – it was something that I did not expect from such a place. It was a solid Bloody Mary too.
Ten minutes later we found ourselves being led to the deck by the harbor. It was the prefect spot for a sunny Sunday. As we read the menu, my wife pointed out some wording at the bottom of the page. It read, “Straws are served upon request… we’re doing our part to protect the waters.” I was very happy to read that, as I ordered a second Bloody Mary.
My second drink showed up in a single use plastic cup, which was rather humorous – obviously they were trying to keep glass off of the patio, but I’ve seen some nice sturdy washable and non-breakable cups out there that would have sufficed. Oh well… so much for safeguarding the waters.
After the eco faux pas, my expectations for the meal were left in a quandary. I was hoping that the elevated surroundings would lead to an elevated brunch. Scoping out the menu, there were a few items that we found appealing, but neither of us was in the mood for traditional brunch fare – it was something about being out on the water, I suppose.
So the brunch specials and omelettes were off the list, as were the breakfast sandwiches. Instead, our combined attention was drawn to the Harbor Fare, even though my brain (and stomach) was saying, “Stick with the safe stuff like the wings and the burgers!” Instead, my eyes diverted to the breaded fish sandwich with fries and slaw. My wife ordered the Philly beef and cheese, with shaved prime rib, peppers, onion, mushrooms and cheese… and she “Jeffed it up” with a stuffed hot pepper.
While I’ve head a better fish sandwich, this one was actually very decent. I wasn’t a huge fan of the presentation – served on a hoagie roll – it was too much roll, and not toasted. There was nothing marrying the fish to the bread – it was two distinct entities with nothing tying it together. It would have been better if it was more like a built sandwich… more composed. If they had taken a few of the side accoutrements (slaw, tartar sauce, etc. which were all served in single use plastic ramekins – again, so much for protecting the waters), it would have been much better, especially toasted!
As for my wife, her’s was the winner. She thought that the ratio of bread to ingredients was perfect, served with a big honkin’ pepper. The pepper was spicy, with plenty of heat – Hungarian hot peppers can be iffy because by nature they are not consistently hot. This one brought the heat – a big plus. The minus was that the steak could have used some seasoning – either salt and peppered (while cooking), some jus, or simply a steak sauce. After all when you’re looking at a $15 menu item (with the added hot pepper), it all needs to be perfect, not just good. Even Jim’s SteakOut uses a steak sauce. But the proportions were all there, and she said that she would definitely order it again.
I should also mention that all of the sandwiches come with fries, or you can substitute a salad or sweet fries. I opted for the sweet fries, which I thought were exceptional. My wife really liked her straight up fries and commented that they were battered nicely, and that sometimes some of the best fries are not fresh cut in-house (like these, she believed).
All in all, our Sunday noontime dining experience left us satiated and happy. While we did not have time to take a stroll after our meal, I would think that this would be the perfect place to do so. There’s a little ice cream stand built right into the building, which is the perfect spot for an afternoon treat.
I love what they did with this place. And it was one of the better meals that I’ve had out at the Outer Harbor, which could certainly use a few more eateries. It’s well worth a visit, and a short wait to get patio seating. Hopefully they extend their season, now that they have exceptional new digs that look more like a restaurant than a shack.