After over indulgence for the past couple weeks, my gut started to look pregnant. I needed something made with healthy ingredients. That is when I remembered that my favorite vegan food truck, Seabirds , just opened their brick and mortar restaurant at The LAB in Costa Mesa. Seabirds Kitchen now joins the ranks of The Playground, Slapfish, Taco Maria who have successfully transitioned to full-fledged restaurants.
As I have mentioned in several other blog posts, the Seabirds Truck was the reason I have an appreciation for vegan food and ingredients like kale and jackfruit. This life-long meat eater was impressed by just how much flavor is packed inside fruits, vegetables and nuts. I give owner and chef, Stephanie Morgan, credit for expanding my palate. What I like about Seabirds is that they don’t always try to recreate chicken or steak protein textures, rather they embrace the vegetable as a unique ingredient and utilize it in comfort food recipes.
Seabirds Kitchen is located at The Lab Anti mall in Costa Mesa, tucked in the back next to the Gypsy Den. Park in the back and Just follow the path and you will find them facing Bristol St. Seabirds Kitchen is a sit-down restaurant format, and I found their service to be very quick during the business lunch rush. I went during my lunch break with less than an hour to spare and my food was served within 15 minutes of entering the door. That was pretty impressive.
The food at seabirds kitchen will not disappoint if you are an old Seabirds Truck fan, you can expect to see some of your old favorites properly platted and portioned on china. Since Seabirds is now a restaurant they have the capacity for bigger menu. Diehard fans will be happy to find their best of items on a grander scale. Their menu is separated into tacos, small plates, bowls, salads and Dillas (“quesadillas” but with out the queso.
Here is what I ordered:
Beer Battered Avocado – beer battered avocado, seabirds sauce, chopped cabbage, red onion, lime, corn tortillas This is the dish that made seabirds famous and was their golden ticket to get on Good Morning America and The Ellen DeGeneres show. When the dish arrived at my table, the smell wafted up and it was very pleasant aroma of hot avocado. This dish is a wonderful example of contrasting flavors and textures. When you bite into the taco you feel contrasting tastes, temperatures and textures from the hot and crispy and gooey deep fried avocado, snappy crunch of cabbage, and cool sauce that finishes with a touch of spicy. For 4 dollars you get one big taco, which is pretty filling.
Burnt Brussels –Seabirds truck was one of the reasons I got into Brussels sprouts, so I had to order them at the restaurant. They are burn roasted to a crisp on one side (the way Brussels sprouts should be cooked to unleash their flavor) and tossed with fried garlic, lime and dijon mustard. The flavor was amazing with the garlic, lime and Dijon creating an aromatic and tangy flavor to the nuttiness of the Brussels sprouts. Beautiful execution.
Soup of the Day - Pumpkin Curry with fried onions – This dish stole the show. Owner, Stephanie Morgan told me that they just threw this soup together in the morning and hoped for the best. The soup was creamy smooth with the sweetness of the pumpkin accented by the flavor of curry like a satin scarf wrapped around the supple skin of a womans curves. If that description sounded suggestive, then yes it was. This bowl of soup was a sensual experience on my tongue. The crunchy fried onions added a wonderful crunch bombs to the texture and a contrasting flavor to the sexy soup.
BBQ Jack Dillas – The other ingredient that mad Seabirds famous is their use of Jackfruit as a protein replacement in their dishes. Although I have always said that vegan restaurants should never try to imitate meat, I have some exceptions. Seabirds BBQ jackfruit is not trying to taste like meat, although the first time I ate one of their BBQ Jackfruit Dillas, I went back to the truck and asked if there was meat in the dish. This dish is made with grilled bbq jackfruit, roasted garlic, caramelized red onion, cilantro, vegan cheese blend on a whole wheat tortilla with chipotle sour cream. The flavor is slightly peppery and when mixed with the carmalized onions and vegan cheese you swear you are eating something naughty for your diet. In reality this dish is extremely healthy.
Be sure to try their blood orange lemonade, it is sweet and tangy. I drank a couple cups after I finished my meal to sit back and relax.
My Final Thoughts
I was very excited to see Seabirds accomplish one of their goals of moving from food truck to restaurant. The current menu is very similar to the cuisine served on the trucks, but spruced up, amped up and served on china. To me their pumpkin curry soup is a good representation of what we can expect to see from Seabirds, as they more foward. I expect to see a divergence from their food truck favorites menu to more experimental dishes that are packed with wow. Of course Stephanie and the rest of the Birds can never say good-bye to the famous deep-fried avocado tacos or jackfruit creations, so they will have to do a careful dance of new and favorite menu items. Tom’s Foodie Blog highly recommends Seabirds Kitchen, even if you don’t think you like vegan food. If you are a foodie, you know that fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other plant based ingredients are the most flavor packed ingredients on the planet. The right vegan restaurant can make magic happen with plant based ingredients; for me, Seabirds Kitchen is that restaurant.
See www.tomsfoodieblog.com‘s other posts
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