The Californian at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach
21500 E. Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
It's very rare that we get invited to a closing party for a restaurant. In fact, I believe this is the first time during the four year run of our blog that we have been invited to a restaurant on one of the last nights of service. Most of the time the closing of a restaurant is a somber affair, a decision that has been long in the making, and with great contemplation. The good folks at The Californian were down right giddy about the closing of their restaurant.
Okay, they were excited because they are re-branding their dining space at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. As of the 18th of November, the Californian would be no more. On that date they started a big time renovation that they hope will only last 100 days. This ambitious concept is the brainchild of John Benson, Director of Food and Beverage for Hyatt. He told us he has been working up to this moment for the better part of two years now. A lot of planning goes into these undertakings.
This is not just a slap some paint on the walls and change the names of menu items. The people at Hyatt are coming up with a new concept for hotel dining. Everything about the Californian will be gone. They are getting new furniture, a new layout that will feature communal tables, private dining areas, and open kitchens that will be used as buffet staging in the morning hours to being used as chef tables in the evening hours. Even the wait staff's uniforms will not be spared, as they will have new uniforms when the unnamed as of yet restaurant opens in the spring.
Some of the highlights we got to experience involved the bar area of the restaurant. They are introducing bar jars, which will be filled with numerous items, ranging from almonds, dips, and a variety of pickled things. We also got to try a Pumpkin Martini, which was topped off with cinnamon, and really captured the essence of the Fall season.
Not only will bar jars be a focus, but they are planning on having a very ambitious charcuterie program here as well. If the samples that we had are an indication, this will be a smashing success. Another hit with the media in attendance was the Pull Apart Bread that will be baked fresh, and offered to guests. When we tried this it was warm, right out of the oven, and so addicting. The Potato and Corn Empanada is also worth noting here. When paired with the aji sauce, these packed a great amount of flavor into them, and I did not even miss the absence of meat. A rare thing for me to say.
Not only is the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach going to have a new restaurant, but they also have a new chef. Executive Chef Manfred Lassahn might be new to this Hyatt location, but he is definitely not new to the Hyatt Corporation. He has been with them for 27 years, with his last stint being at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. He and his team wowed us with some great items that might be on the new menu. Highlights for me included one of the best Scalloped Potato dishes I have had. So creamy, with a real homey vibe to it. The Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Capers, gave me a great new appreciation for what can be done with Brussels sprouts. Delicious. The carving stations were not to be missed. The oven roasted pork loin was paired nicely with an autumn chutney. Very tender. I usually shy away from salmon, but this Cedar Plank Skunna Bay Salmon was very pleasant, and cooked fabulously. The Avocado Gazpacho with Dungeness Crab and Smoked Olive Oil was as delicious as it sounds. Lastly, the Inside Out Grilled Cheese was a little light on the cheese factor, but I enjoyed the prosciutto it was wrapped in.
There were three desserts for us to try as well. The Coppa Raspberry and Cream and the Espresso Creme Brulee were good, but could not hold a candle to the Six Degrees of Chocolate. I ate two of these desserts, and had to be held back from eating a third. So good, without being as rich as I expected it to be. If this is on the new menu, it better come in an extra large slice for me.
Leaving my first farewell party for a restaurant, I was as excited as the Hyatt people about what was coming next for this space at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. If this little sneak peek is any indication, they are going to have something special on their hands. I am going to be interested to see how closely they stick to this new concept when the restaurant opens in the Spring. We would like to thank everyone involved in this project for inviting us to this great event, and sharing with us their vision of what was is to come. Looking forward to seeing how it all turns out early next year.
To keep up to date with the opening, and all the rest of what is going on at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, go to their website here: http://huntingtonbeach.hyatt.com/en/hotel/our-hotel.html