IN GOOD TASTE | The Easygoing Brother – VC Reporter
Pictured: Chicken club wrap served with fries. Photo by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
In the aisle of Brophy Bros.
1559 Spinnaker Drive, Port of Ventura
Brophy Bros. at Ventura Harbor is a favorite with locals and tourists alike, thanks to its quality cocktails, fresh seafood, and covered patio with lovely views. However, popularity comes at a price: expect to wait for a table, especially if you plan to dine on a weekend, and pay upwards of $25 for some dishes (not all).
This is where its recently opened sister restaurant, On the Alley, comes in handy.
The fast-casual OTA offers the same quality and a similar, albeit reduced, menu at Brophy, in a less formal space with a concept that gets diners through a little faster. Perfect for those days when you want a tasty bite without the pomp and circumstance, and are also looking for something more affordable.
Just down from Brophy’s, OTA has taken over the space once occupied by Milano’s. It’s cool and relaxed and overlooks the water – not a bad seat in the house, whether you’re in the indoor dining area or on the covered patio. Ordering and payment are made at the counter; you will have a number to put on your table and a waiter will bring your food. And while you won’t find as many options on the menu as in the upstairs dining room, there’s still plenty to choose from, including craft beers on tap in 16 and 20 oz. slightly cheaper options and prices (everything is under $20).
Meeting friends for a late lunch, we all had a beer (red, lager and IPA) to start and found a table to enjoy them while thinking about the food. Tacos are tempting (fish, shrimp, pork, and avocado), breakfast (avocado toast, egg sandwich, waffle sticks, and other morning treats) is served all day, and some Brophy favorites (chowder, cioppino, fish and chips and more) and frozen desserts also make a difference. But our group eventually settled on the classic lunch: chicken tenderloin, pulled pork sandwich, sesame salmon salad and chicken club wrap. (Burgers, corn dogs, and grilled cheese are also available.)
The smash hits were the salad and the sandwich. A beautifully seasoned salmon fillet topped with a savory combination of greens, carrots, snow peas, crispy wontons and sliced almonds. Very fragrant, very fresh and delicately dressed with a sesame-scented vinaigrette. Light and healthy, but still filling.
The pulled pork sandwich was definitely more indulgent, but worth the calories. It was quite large, with a generous portion of meat and coleslaw in a fresh brioche bun. My friend who ordered it declared it “the perfect combination” – meaty, tangy (thanks to the Carolina BBQ sauce), crispy and a little spicy. With fries on the side, it was a delicious and satisfying lunch – which was the point.
My chicken wrap didn’t quite reach those same heights, but I still consider it a winner. The juicy chunks of blackened chicken breast paired well with the crisp lettuce, sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado and nutty provolone, with a touch of May to bring it all together. I skipped the bacon, which may have taken the flavor (and the fat and cholesterol) down a notch, but I would absolutely order it again. The chicken fillets were exactly as expected: hot, crispy, breaded, with tender white meat inside. Not a scene stealer, but nothing to complain about either.
Sandwiches include your choice of homemade fries or potato chips. Two of us went for the fries and were a bit disappointed. They had lots of salt and were perfectly crispy, but weren’t as hot and fresh as we had hoped. Not bad, but can be done in bulk ahead of time. I’ve known better.
Overall, though, I’d say OTA is a great place for a quick bite when you’re short on time or just don’t want to deal with a more traditional eating establishment. There’s plenty of seating and great food to choose from, as well as great beers, coffee drinks, and even wine and a few basic drinks (Bloody Mary, margarita, Tito’s lemonade). No worries, no fuss; just easy to eat dishes.