Just before Thanksgiving I was invited to The Californian at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach to meet and welcome the newest member of their culinary team, Executive Sous Chef Chris Toth, and experience an exclusive tasting of the Fall + Winter menu items and new additions to their vast wine selection. I live in Huntington Beach which is more known for sun and surf and a boisterous bar scene than fine dining, so I’m partial to The Californian and have a full appreciation for the fact that it is an AAA Four Diamond Restaurant where you can gaze upon the beauty of the Pacific and feel the beach vibe without any of the grit 🙂
We gathered in the intimate private Cellar dining room and mingled while sipping a delightful Mumm’s DVX sparkling wine. Once seated, Director of Outlets, Jeremy Lambert described the tasting menu offerings we were soon to experience and how The Californian has distinguished itself as a fine dining restaurant with a diverse menu of contemporary California cuisine that highlights the natural flavors and fresh ingredients of southern California. My mouth was watering just hearing about it! Fortunately, he sensed our ravenous hunger from the look in our eyes; servers appeared and with a quick and elegant flourish we were presented the trio of starters.
The Pan Seared Scallops with Porcini and Sweet Corn Hash with a red wine reduction and chili-spiced Grilled Lamb Chops with Greek style yogurt sauce with sumac were definitely noteworthy. Questions for Chef Toth centered around local sourcing and the sumac which added a unique flavor to the yogurt sauce.
Before the trio of Mains was presented, Beverage Manager Gabe Regalado enlightened us on the California wine pairings, some background on each vineyard, and quite a bit of detail on the impressive lineage of Faust. With the starters we enjoyed a refreshing, crisp 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Brander (Santa Ynez Valley) and the black cherry and plum aromas of ZD WInes 2008 Pinot Noir, Carneros.
The Beef Tenderloin was a perfect medium-rare and accompanied by a Winchester Farms Sharp Gouda Gratin, Grilled Portabella topped with Roasted Vine-Ripened Tomato with a Sonoma red wine jus. Not to be overshadowed by its beefy partner, the Swordfish with Avocado Risotto, grilled Broccolini and Blood Orange Reduction was the epitome of a seasonal offering brightened with a fresh California twist of citrus. The Faust 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley , described by the winemaker as a “dark and brooding wine that explodes in the glass with a shock of black fruit and exotic”and the Jordan, 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley were poured for our savoring pleasure.
To wrap up this feast of the senses, we were further indulged with a rich velvety Pumpkin Creme Brulee with PistachioBiscotti and a refreshingly light Goat Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust and spiced Cranberrry Compote, finished with a luxurious Dolce, Chardonnay, Napa 2002.
For your dining pleasure:
Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa
21500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Photo at right courtesy of Becky Reams Photography
Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post, but enjoy indulging my palate and featuring fine dining and good eats to share with readers.