Between work and parenting, carving out time for yourself and your partner to keep the sparkle in your relationship takes planning and commitment. And when you do step out, you don’t want blah, you want special, memorable even. Head west my friend, to SeaLegs Wine Bar in downtown Huntington Beach for a Date Night with all the right stuff.
Don’t let the name fool you, SeaLegs Wine Bar is an excellent restaurant with a seasonal menu of shareable small plates and main dishes which showcase Chef Alexander Dale’s California twist on comfort food favorites and earned them the Golden Foodie Award for Best California Cuisine in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Add to this all the necessary accoutrements: a relaxed ambiance that combines a sleek bar area accented by glittering crystal chandeliers with a cozy, coastal Hamptons style. Guests can enjoy family style seating in the lively, dimly lit dining area with hand-crafted wood tables and chairs or, sneak off to the the low tables and comfy banquettes in the windowed lounge area for a more intimate setting.
Sea Legs boasts a wine cellar with a 4,000-bottle capacity and private wine lockers. Menu selections are divided and listed under “Red” and “White” to assist in wine pairing with a respectable wine list of 10-12 selections of Whites, Reds, and a Captains List of pricier, more notable vineyards (Far Niente, Flowers, Freemark Abbey, Patz & Hall, and Nickel & Nickel), as well as 7 choices of “Bubbly”. Handcrafted cocktails and 10 ice cold craft beers round out your adult beverage choices.
Our evening began with a fabulous sweet and savory Pig & Fig Flatbread ($15) where papaya gastrique and a balsamic reduction drizzled plate displayed grilled flatbread decorated with luscious figs, caramelized onions, and bits of salty applewood smoked bacon and prosciutto mingled with melty blue cheese and mozzarella.
Another must-try is the Mac and Greens ($14) with crispy kale. Normally, I’m not a huge Mac n’Cheese fan, but the addition of greens convinced me there was a healthy element to this very tasty three-cheese version. Needless to say, I had a delicious lunch of leftovers the next day.
We could have stopped there, but the fact that it was “Date Night” and Thursday’s special just happened to be Fried Chicken, we had cause to linger. Fried Chicken is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, especially on Sunday Supper menus, but with Thursday night football back – the Whole Fried Chicken Thursday special is brilliant.
Served in a Sea Legs bucket, Chef Alex also does it proud. Tender and moist with crispy skin is easier said than done and I asked if the chicken was marinated in buttermilk. Chef Dale himself described his 3-stage preparation for his fried chicken and it includes an initial marinade, then sous vide par-cooking, followed by a buttermilk soak before coating with a cornmeal and flour mixture before frying . Well done, says this southern girl. Only one detail would make it better – separate the leg from the thigh so we can pick it up and eat it like fried chicken should be eaten.
The Whole Fried Chicken ($20) is offered a la carte with a selection of traditional sides for $5 each.
Although my husband is the true fried chicken lover, it’s not something recommended on a low-sodium diet (mostly due to brining, not the fried part). He chose the Ancho Chili Coffee Braised Short Ribs ($28) which led us to splurge on a bottle of Flowers Pinot Noir, just cuz. Perched atop a mound of jalapeño poblano creamed corn and garnished with house made queso fresco and roasted tomatoes the flavors and textures played well together and had us wishing for the brisk evenings of fall.
By this time we were really getting into the array of mind-bending rock music tracks from Jimi Hendrix to Pink Floyd that was this evening’s selection. They mix it up though with mellower tracks along with classic Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Initially, you might find the music a little loud, but chill out with a cocktail or glass of wine and you’ll be chair-dancing and reminiscing once your tummy is getting some satisfaction. For a more intimate tête-à-tête, the banquettes and low tables in the lounge area is a better choice, especially if you’re more interested in dining tapas-style.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with the Sea-Zookie Baked Cookie Dough ($12), topped with ice cream and house made chocolate sauce, of course!
If the week gets away from you, SeaLegs also has a very popular Saturday and Sunday Brunch and lots of fun special events like this month’s Oktoberfest dinner on October 17th and special Veuve Clicquot Yelloween event on Halloween. Check it out. And like their Facebook page to keep current on what’s happening beachside!
21022 Beach Blvd. #105
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Stay tuned for the January 2016 opening of owner/restauranteur dynamo Alicia Whitney’s new concept: SeaSalt, a casual Santa-Maria style barbecue restaurant located in the same center as SeaLegs.