Thursday, March 30, 2017

Must Be a Cold Front Coming Through Because It's 25 Degrees in Huntinngton Beach

Twenty Five Degrees
412 Walnut Ave. 
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Orange County Restaurant Week is a restaurant reviewers dream. Okay, not just restaurant reviewers, but for anyone that loves going to restaurants, or wants to try a new place without breaking the bank. It's a week that always seems to go by way too fast. We always seem to make all these plans to eat out each night, and then things always pop up, and we have to change our plans. One restaurant that I could not let this happen to was 25 Degrees in Huntington Beach.

25 Degrees has held the top spot on my restaurant wishlist for close to three years now. Yes, I know that's way too long, but it seems like every time we had plans to come up this way, another spot grabbed my attention, and we just kept putting off this restaurant, which gets lots of love for their burgers and cool vibe. So, we made no excuses and headed up to Surf City on the very first day of OC Restaurant Week.

For those of you unfamiliar with OC Restaurant Week, this year they had over 100 restaurants participating, and each of them offers a menu at a prix fixe price. Lunches range between $10 to $20, and dinners range anywhere between $20 to $50 for a multi-course dining experience. I usually spend the better part of two to three hours going through the menus online and pick places that offer the greatest value, and then cross reference that to places on our restaurant wishlist. That's how we ended up at 25 Degrees.

At 25 Degrees they offered a three course, $20 dinner menu, and the topper for me was that their burgers were offered in the deal, so I knew what I would be having. We got here on a cold and windy Sunday, and enjoyed a brief walk around the nearby Pacific City shopping complex and a brisk stroll around Downtown HB. 25 Degrees is a block away from the over the top craziness that is Main Street Huntington Beach, and that city block kind of mellows this restaurant out, at least on this particular Sunday at 5 pm.

Located right next door to the Huntington Beach Beer Company and across the street from both Bruxie and Ritter's Steam Cooking, 25 Degrees does have a speakeasy kind of vibe, without having to give an annoying password at the door to get in. Red velevet wallpaper, ornate hanging light fixtures, and simplistic, yet functional furniture are a departure from the usual beach themed bar that is usually found throughout this city. There is a good number of TV's here, which were unexplainedly turned to 60 Minutes on this particular evening. Must have been a few news junkies hanging out at the way more populated bar. Instead of hearing all the latest about what was happening on the other side of the country, I chose to focus on the food at 25 Degrees, and what was on their restaurant week menu.

As is the custom when Katie and I are eating during restaurant week, we each select a different option from each section of the restaurant week menu. Her selection for the starter portion was this spicy Yellowfin Tuna ($12 on the regular menu). The fresh tuna was perched atop a tempura fried piece of eggplant, and topped with tobiko, which is flying fish roe. Even though Katie is not a big fan of roe, she really enjoyed this unique and fresh starter. The eggplant was a neat vehicle for the fresh, but not spicy tuna. Very impressive start to her meal.

So with Katie taking the tuna, that left me with either the bacon wrapped dates or the wings. Of course, I went with the Chili-Honey Chicken Wings ($9). Every so often I enjoy a sweet and tangy wing, and these hit the spot. They were coated with a very well done sauce, which was both sticky and sweet, and went well with the tender chicken underneath. I made quick work of these three wings and anxiously waited for our entrees.

I was a little surprised Katie did not go the Cuban sandwich route with her entree but instead got this Chicken and Waffles (not on their regular menu). This plate came with three pieces of fried chicken and a whole waffle. Neither of us was a fan of the fried chicken, which had a very crumbly breading, which cracked off rather easily and was more on the greasy and thin side. It really provided little in the way of flavor. The chicken inside was also not above par. There were some real red parts, which kind of freaked Katie out, and there was not too much in the way of meat underneath the subpar breading. She was however pretty fond of the waffle, which I thought was just okay. I would have asked for extra syrup, as the waffle really sucked up the maple syrup quickly. Not the best meal for Katie.

As disappointed as we were in the Chicken, this Blue Style Burger ($11) lived up to the hype. This good looking burger was piled high with plenty of caramelized onions, arugula, bacon, gorgonzola, thousand island dressing, and Crescenza cheese, which I haven't seen offered anywhere else. A very balanced burger, not one component overpowered the other, and I really enjoyed the mild and creamy cheese on this. The burger patty itself was very juicy and seasoned just enough. The bun was soft but still held everything together. Really a good burger, and one of the better ones I have had in a long time.

To complete our three-course meal, we each got to choose a side to go along with our entree. Katie is a big fan of Sweet Potato Fries ($5) and liked these well enough. They came out warm, were simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and were made better with the ranch that came with this. I had the Onion Rings ($5). These came three to an order and were pretty solid. Made with red onion, which I wish more places would do, these seemed to employ the same breading that was used on the fried chicken. It worked better here, although it did break away from the onion way too easily, which is a big pet peeve to me. A good onion ring, but I wish the pepper was a little more prominent here.

This OC Restaurant Week menu at 25 Degrees definitely had some hits and misses on this evening. I don't think fried chicken is one of their strengths, but that burger has got me excited to come back here and try one of their other six varieties available. I really liked the vibe here, which lacked the kind of bro vibe that a lot of bars in HB posses. This is a mellow bar/restaurant, which is cranking out some really solid burgers. Service was very good on this early evening. Our server, Collin, answered all of our questions and made sure our every need was met. Glad we finally made it out to 25 Degrees, and visiting here during OC Restaurant Week made it even better.

Out of five scuba divers, (because the only portion of the 25 degrees north parallel that touches the US is in Key Largo, Florida, which is known as the dive capital of the world), five being best to zero being worst, 25 Degrees gets 3 scuba divers.

For more information about 25 Degrees, check out their website here:

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