If you’ve ever puttered around Newport Harbor in a twinkle-lighted Duffy boat, you’ve probably noticed a new lighthouse off to the side and wondered, “why the heck is there a lighthouse so far from the actual coast?” Well, wonder no more, as the building is actually the Lighthouse Bayview Café in Marina Park. Although the seaside eatery has been open for two years, the cafe just got blessed with a full liquor license as of last week, so naturally, we puttered over to see what’s shakin’.
Sitting outside on a starry December night, there’s nothing like watching boats cut through the still bay water under the toasty heat of tankless heaters with drinks in hand. After shaking off my annual December cold, The Thoroughbred (Bulleit Bourbon, lemon, clover honey syrup) sounded like a great place to start. “Isn’t that a cold remedy?” I ask our server Jeffrey as he nods with knowing gaze, ordering up some crisp Brussels sprouts with Spanish chorizo to pair as an appetizer.
The Thoroughbred, for such a simple cocktail, is a beautiful blend of oaky bourbon, ripe citrus, and a sweet floral kiss on the finish. The sprouts paired well with the coin-like medallions of chorizo and balsamic glaze.
Feeling like an old salty dog, Buddy’s Bloody caught my eye…who can turn down an oversized Bloody Mary served in a huge mason jar? The drink is named after local Newport lifeguard legend Buddy Belshe, whose 46 years on the job warranted the large drink vessel to pay homage to his service. For a spice-head like myself, it’s on the mild side, yet my tame-tongued wife thought it was just right. Sometimes bloodies can be overly thick and aggressive, but Buddy is perched high on my lifeguard tower, looking out for my taste buds.
The rest of the bar menu is full of beach standards like mules, mojitos, and margaritas, yet the food menu is as eclectic as a Coachella line up. The San Francisco Cioppino and slow braised
Osso Bucco are what we went with, and devoured each plate, soaking up the last tasty bits with fresh bread. The Cioppino is as spicy as the Buddy Bloody and is packed with tasty sea bites…the Osso Bucco, so tender it could be cut with the floppy cooked carrots served on the plate.
After seeing the brunch menu, I don’t think there’s any better place in Orange County to bring the kids as the nearby sand and lighthouse playground are just a yell away. The Lighthouse Bayview is open for brunch daily and on New Year’s Day from 7 A.M. – 4 P.M. with various mimosa, Bellini, and of course your old pal Buddy!
Lighthouse Bayview Café is at 1600 W Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach // lighthousenb.com