Friday, May 30, 2014

No Need to Trip at SeaLegs

SeaLegs Wine Bar
21022 Beach Blvd. 
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

I'm not going to lie to you. I was not too excited to come to SeaLegs Wine Bar. I'm not really a wine kind of guy. I'd be much more happy with beer or rum. I know it's probably not a shock to anyone that I'm also way more into food than wine, and it's been my experience that when a place focuses so much on wine, the food is usually an afterthought. I can admit when I am wrong though, and boy I was definitely wrong when it came to SeaLegs.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Since SeaLegs opened up just over two years ago they have won praise from people on Yelp, have won a Golden Foodie Award, and been on numerous top ten lists for their wine and food. My fellow OC food bloggers have all really enjoyed their visits here, and it was definitely time for us to see what all the hoopla was about at SeaLegs.

SeaLegs is located in the last shopping center before you hit the water on Beach Boulevard at Atlanta. This shopping center is also home to Mama's on 39,  Las Barcas, and Boardwalk Burgers and Fries. I'll tell you, I could almost spend a year just writing about the restaurants on Beach Boulevard, there are so many to choose from around here. Even with all of these dining choices, SeaLegs had quite a crowd on the recent Wednesday evening we showed up to check out their new Spring/Summer menu offerings.

The first thing I noticed after we were seated was that this was not as stuffy as other wine bars I have visited. This restaurant was loud, which brought life to it. I immediately felt comfortable here. SeaLegs had a kind of Hampton's or Cape Cod feel to it, without the hassle of flying cross country. The focal point of SeaLegs is the beautiful wine case behind the bar. After I got settled in, I became aware that SeaLegs had a ratio of six women to every man, so if you are a single guy, this might be the place for you to find your other half. I already found my other half, so I was definitely focused more on the food that was making it's way out to our table. Let's see if it will be a match made in heaven.

I never order artichokes in restaurants, but that might change after trying this Grilled Heirloom Artichoke ($12). This huge artichoke was served with a wonderful basil aioli. Grilled perfectly, this artichoke was very meaty, and was made even better with a few squirts of the grilled lemon provided. Really a tasty starter, and more than enough for both Katie and I. They paired this with a Chasewater Reisling ($9). Reisling might be my favorite kind of wine. This one was light, with hints of apple in the background. I was pretty happy Katie allowed me to finish off her glass of Reisling.

Coming out the same time as the artichoke, a new edition to the Spring/Summer menu at SeaLegs are these Grilled Turkey Meatballs ($12). When I think of turkey meatballs, I always think they are going to be bland, but that was not the case here. The meatball had a hint of sweetness, which I thought could be from a hint of cinnamon. These meatballs came with a harissa and tzatziki sauce, which kind of gave these a Moroccan tinge to them. The harissa had a nice spice, while the tzatziki sauce cooled things down a bit. The meatball itself was fork tender. Very tasty.

The next course came out lead by Rebel Coast's Reckless Love Cabernet Blend ($21). This cab possessed a rich aroma, but was not too heavy. Full of flavor, this really coated the mouth on the way down, and the bottle even glows in the dark. This fun winery does not take themselves too seriously, and it's definitely worth a visit to their website here: This blended cab was paired with a Farm Fresh Vegetable Flatbread ($14). I'm usually a little leery when it comes to flatbreads with just veggies on them, but I liked this one. This flatbread started with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and was then topped with heirloom grape tomatoes, asparagus, shredded zucchini, micro arugula, basil, and herb oil. The produce that topped this was very fresh, and the asparagus had a nice crispness to it. The cheeses added a smokiness, which went well with the sweetness from the tomatoes. I'm not turning my back on meat, but this flatbread has taught me that vegetables can be my friends too.

They must have known that I was craving meat, because the Charred Filet Medallions ($16) came out next. These billiard ball sized pieces of filet were topped with a pickled onion and a sweet red wine demi-glaze. The meat was tender, the sauce was sweet, and the pickled onions added some unexpected flavor to this. My favorite item of the night was up next, the Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus ($12). This blew me away. The prosciutto was crisped, the asparagus retained a juiciness, and the inclusion of the roasted tomato and sunflower seeds rounded this out perfectly. Such a simple dish, but one I have thought about regularly since we left SeaLegs.  I must have still been in an asparagus stupor, because I did not snap a picture of the wine that we had this round. It was Boeger Winery's Barbera ($14), which had the sweet aroma of burnt creme brulee running through it, but when consumed it was not as sweet as expected.

I was sad that we were nearing the end of our first SeaLegs experience, but this Pina Colada Cake ($10) helped to soften the blow somewhat. This is new to the menu, but I feel it should stay on for a long time. This cake had pineapple running through the middle of it, sandwiched between two moist layers of cake, and topped with a coconut cream frosting. After eating so much food, I was happy this cake was very light, but still had just the right amount of sweetness to it. It will be hard not to have this cake on my future visits here, but I'm going to have to try their carrot cake soon.

I left SeaLegs a little bitter that I had not been here until now. All that wasted time not coming here, because I thought they would be too focused on their wine to care about the food. Chef Alexander Dale has convinced me that I was wrong about my assumptions. Everything we had on this night was top notch. We are really looking forward to coming back again real soon to try some of their other menu items, like their Bleu Sliders, Lump Crab Cakes, and their Truffle Mac and Cheese. I wouldn't call these small plates, but they are not full sized entrees either. The dishes here promote sharing with your tablemates. I can definitely see both Katie and I coming here and ordering three plates to share between us, and if one of them is the prosciutto wrapped asparagus, then she will only have the choice of the other two plates. I really loved that asparagus.

We would really like to thank everyone at SeaLegs for the wonderful hospitality that we experienced on this night. The staff made sure that all of our needs were met, and that we enjoyed everything. Our waiter, Jeff was very knowledgeable about the entire menu, as well as all the wines. We also need to acknowledge our hostess for the evening, the very personable Lauren Henry. Even with it being a busy night here at SeaLegs, she took the time to check on us often, and answer all of our silly questions. She not only did this with us, but we saw her do this all over the restaurant with all of the customers. Lastly, we need to express our gratitude to the great Janet Pacheco for setting up this tasting of the Spring/Summer menu. Thanks for everything Janet.

If you would like to experience SeaLegs for yourself, find out more about them here:

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