One of Benjamin Franklin’s last theories was that taking in a good view while eating aids both in digestion and in the ability to squeeze milk out of coal. Prove him half-right with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of eclectic appetizers and drinks at Marina Grog & Galley in Lake Lotawana.
Perched on the scenic banks of Lake Lotawana, the Marina Grog & Galley fills a renovated 1934 marina with the savory smells of sizzling steak and fresh seafood. The eclectic menu stuffs empty bellies with herculean appetizers such as grilled duck complemented by polenta and candied fig ($13.95) and a half-slab of slow-smoked pork ribs ($12.95). Weekly shipments of fresh seafood delivered from Hawaii transform into plate-ready appetizers, including the Cake Walk ($18.95)—a hunger-trouncing kick line of blue-crab cake, ahi cake, and shrimp cake—and the applewood-bacon-wrapped scallops ($10.95). Wash it all down with a selection from 30 wines by the glass ($7–$15 each) and 12 specialty cocktails ($9–$10 each), such as the Bomb Pop, which takes it inspiration from the ice-cream-truck favorite, and the Dirty Bird martini that’s garnished with an olive stuffed with blue cheese and spicy censor bars.
Marina Grog & Galley's lakeside atmosphere evokes the experience of dining on open water without the burden of buying a schooner or learning to levitate atop the waves. The outside dining deck offers an unencumbered view of Lake Lotawana, and the interior dining rooms complement the boating theme with rich wooden paneling and nautical artwork. Stone-clad fireplaces heat diners during cold winter months, and a 1,500-gallon, submerged saltwater aquarium showcases a small colony of fish and entrapped mermaids.
Marina Grog & Galley
"A computer can't understand a handshake," says Jack Schwindler, explaining why he retired after 32 years as a food broker. He missed the face-to-face aspect of the business, which diminished as technology swiftly advanced. So when he and his wife found a defunct marina on Lake Lotawana, where Jack spent his childhood, he found his calling. In 1993, Jack and his wife opened Marina Grog & Galley, and now, Jack says, "I'm shaking hands again."
Marina Grog & Galley is run by a tight-knit crew of longtime employees, including servers who have worked there since 1996. Their menu boasts dry-aged steaks from a local purveyor and fresh fish flown in from Hawaii three times a week. The smell of steaks searing over mesquite charcoal drifts out to the front driveway, creating an aroma that attracts passersby and envious traveling steak peddlers. Other specialties include baby-back ribs crafted from a recipe Jack penned when he was 21 years old, along with a range of seafood specialities.
Every night, Jack visits with guests at the tables arranged around the dining room, which look out at the lake or a 1,500-gallon saltwater tank that houses a 48-foot living reef. Leather seats in cobalt blue comfort backs, and stone fireplaces warm the stone walls and light wood around the restaurant. Outdoor tables along the water seat up to 150 people, and on-deck fireplaces keep diners comfortable. "Something happens every night in the restaurant business," says Jack, and he doesn't want to miss a minute of it.