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Review of Shades Restaurant at The Waterfront Beach Resort
Shades Restaurant Baramundi with Lobster Risotto

Review of Shades Restaurant at The Waterfront Beach Resort

Review of Shades Restaurant at The Waterfront Beach Resort

Shades Restaurant is a delicious find in Huntington Beach


Like most locals, you have passed the fancy Huntington Beach resorts while driving down PCH. Although, you probably never tried one of their restaurants. Shades Restaurant and Bar, which is located in the Waterfront Hotel in Huntington Beach,  is one of the latest Hotel restaurants to up their game by hiring talented Chefs and revamping their menus.  As a result, the locals are starting to take notice. 


Shades Restaurant Grounds

Shades Restaurant Grounds. With a formal dining room and a patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Shades oozes the Southern California Lifestyle


Getting to know the Executive Chef

Shades Restaurant  Executive Chef Ben LaFlecheChef Ben LeFleche originally comes from Quebec where he graduated from the culinary institute of Montreal. LeFleche honed his skills at top ski resorts in Whistler and the Hilton Bonaventure in Montreal. Since then, he has been living the California dream by working his way up to Executive Chef at the Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.


I recently attended a preview event of the new seasonal menu create by their new Executive Chef Ben LeFleche. According to LaFleche, he has taken the Shades menu of American cuisine and elevated it, adding influences from the entire North America. “I love being creative in the kitchen and adding seasonal items and unique dishes that you won’t find at other restaurants,” said LaFleche.

Here are my thoughts on the menu at Shades Restaurant:     



Lazy K lemonade

The Lazy K Lemonade is a perfect cocktail for watching the sunset on a warm summer night. It is made with pomegranate liqueur, pomegranate juice, lemonade, and blueberry vodka. Even though this cocktail sounds sticky sweet, it was very well balanced and went down very easy 😉


Shades Restaurant Lazy K cocktail

Shades Restaurant Lazy K cocktail


Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Several years back while I was roaming the back alleys of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, I tried a dish similar to this. This dish stuffs Italian sausage and risotto into red piquillo peppers and is drizzled with a bright chili aioli. This dish had a full mouth flavor from the gentle zing of the ripe piquillo to the aromatics of the Italian sausage.    


Shades Restaurant Stuffed Paquillo Pepper Cross-Section

Shades Restaurant stuffed paquillo pepper cross-section

Shades Restaurant Stuffed Paquillo Pepper Cross-Section

Shades Restaurant stuffed paquillo pepper cross-section


Mini crab cakes with roasted garlic aioli

The crab cakes are made with real lump crab meat and topped with a roasted garlic aioli. These crab cakes were very good, perhaps not the best crab cakes that I have ever tasted. With that said, I would definitely order them again.  

Shades Restaurant Mini Crab Cakes

Shades Restaurant mini crab cakes


Coconut milk braised pork sliders

The coconut braised pork were one of my favorite dishes on the menu. Why? I am a big fan of flavor layering in food and this dish’s flavors kept evolving from sweet, to savory, to tangy.  It is made by braising pork in a coconut milk until the meat is fall-apart soft. The braised pork is served on a slider roll with pickled mustard seeds and rooster sauce.

Shades Restaurant Coconut Milk Braised Pork Slider

Shades Restaurant Coconut Milk Braised Pork Slider



Lunch Menu Items

Mac N Cheese

Their Mac N Cheese is tasty. It is made with with four year aged cheddar, rotini and topped with a toasted pulverized duck fact crouton. This was a rich dish, with the sharp cheddar flavor singing as a constant note throughout the dish. The duck fat crouton served as a flavor enhancer to the sharp cheddar, giving it a richer flavor and contrast of texture.


Shades Restaurant Mac N Cheese

Shades Restaurant Mac N Cheese


For my taste, this dish needed another flavor layer, as sharp cheddar dominated the palate. My wife said the mac was perfect that way it was and told me to stop being a food snob. I ate the entire bowl of mac n cheese, obviously my picky palate did not stop me.



Adult PB&J

The PB&J was one of the highlights of the evening and is a good example of Chef LeFleche taking using his skills to create a grown up version of classic American comfort food. 


Shades Restaurant PB&J made with Bourbon Peanut Butter and Jalepeno Strawberry Jelly

Shades Restaurant PB&J made with bourbon peanut butter and jalapeno strawberry jelly


The peanut butter is house made with bourbon which added a light flavor depth. The strawberry jelly is infused with jalapeño giving it a subtle zing on the tongue, just enough to make it interesting. In true kid style is made on toasted white bread, with crust cut off. :)



House made flat bread

Flat bread is a California favorite and Shade’s version it uses some of the region’s best ingredients. It is topped with roasted tomatoes, mozzarella and locally made Ochoa’s chorizo. 

Shades Restaurant  Flatbread with local chorizo

Shades Restaurant flat bread with local Ochoa’s chorizo

If you never heard of Ochoa’s chorizo, they are a small mom and pop chorizo maker that has being doing “Craft” before it became hipster. The chorizo made the flat bread go from good to awesome. This dish proves that superior ingredients make the best dishes.



Dinner Entrees


Braised duck ragout and pappardelle pasta

I love duck Ragout, so I was extremely happy to see this on the menu. For those who are not aware of the term ragout, it refers to a well-seasoned meat that is slow cooked in a thick sauce. Ragout is often served over pasta. 

Shades Restaurant Duck Raugot with Papperdelle

Shades Restaurant Duck Raugot with Papperdelle


Shade’s version is made with duck and a thickly seasoned tomato sauce. The roasted tomato added the right amount of acidity to cut through the savory flavor of the duck. It was served atop pappardelle pasta. 



Eight hour lamb belly

Shade’s Lamb belly is slowly cooked for eight hours and glazed with an aromatic Korean chile glaze. The glaze laced the lamb’s natural flavors with a subtle tang and deep flavor layering. The belly was butchered nicely, such that there was only a thin layer of fat on the meat. It was served on a black beluga lentil salad. This is a delicious dish that I could eat all day.


Shades Restaurant Interior

Shades Restaurant  eight hour lamb belly with Korean chili glaze and baluga lentil salad. A try try dish.


Lamb belly is one of those very polarizing ingredients that people love or are afraid to try.  My wife falls under the afraid to try category. After a few long stares I watched her go from nervous to ravenous carnivore tearing into the lamb belly.



Pan-seared barramundi with lobster risotto

Barramundi is an Australian seabass that is known for its tender and flavorful flesh. The barramundi is  pan-seared with simple dry seasonings, allowing the natural flavors of this fish to shine through. 

Shades Restaurant Baramundi with Lobster Risotto

Shades Restaurant Barramundi with lobster risotto


The dish is accompanied by a rich lobster risotto that provides a heavy counter-punch to this delicate fish. It is garnished with pickled black grapes and pea tendrils. The pickled black grapes added the perfect sweet and sour balance to brighten up this dish.


Shades Restaurant Baramundi with Lobster Risotto 2

Shades Restaurant Barramundi with Lobster Risotto (the other side of the side)





Tangerine Mini Cupcakes with basil Meringue

Dessert was a light touch that carried big flavors. Tangerine mini cupcakes which were light like angel’s food and topped with a fresh basil meringue. Tangerines are the flavor of the month at Shades, which are nominated on their Facebook pate by fans. It was a perfect flavor for this cupcake.

 Restaurant Tangerine Cupcake with Basil Mirengue

Restaurant Tangerine Cupcake with Basil Meringue

Shades Restaurant, Hilton Waterfront on Urbanspoon

My Final Thoughts

If you stick to stand alone restaurant in Huntington Beach, you may be missing out on some of the city’s best restaurants. Shades is moving past its hotel guest centric restaurant stance and towards becoming a local dining destination. Shades is not alone, the Hyatt Resort next door is going through a major upgrade of its Californian restaurant as well. The only minor catch is that you will need to pay a $3 valet due to parking situation, although this is not uncommon for many nice restaurants.  I highly recommend you try out Shades at the Waterfront Beach Resort, your taste buds will be rewarded. 

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About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. Wow everything looks super good! Beautiful atmosphere and I am drooling over those crab cakes and the mac-n-cheese. Yum!

  2. OMG! This place looks over-the-top delicious! I am soooo hungry now for a ragout (which can, by the way be veggie). Love your posts!

  3. Wow, didn’t think I was hungry! We’re heading to LA this weekend and will make this a MUST STOP destination.

  4. Your dishes look so delicious and rich in variety of tasteful food!

  5. The food and drink all looked fantastic. I’d love to taste the adult peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That sounds really interesting.

  6. Every item you pictured looked so yummy! It sounds like a great place to eat. And I always love eating at restaurants near the water.

  7. This dish looks great… stuffed paquillo pepper cross-section. You sure have a great job and do a fantastic job telling us about these unique finds!

  8. i believe this is the place a friend was telling me about. Great location and food from what I heard too.

  9. are you a professional eater? i have no idea how you have any time with these wonderful posts!

  10. That all looks so good. Love it.

  11. I should not have looked at this just before dinner. Not sure I want to eat what I’ve prepared after seeing these great presentations!

  12. You got some great shots honey! Love these photos! I also loved Shades and want to go back soon:)

  13. Oh yeah, lamb and lentil go great together

  14. The food looks amazing! I can’t get over how fancy that pb&j looks! And those mini crab cakes omg!!

  15. Wow! All that amazing looking food. You guys sure know how to eat like royalty

  16. Looks Delicious, would like to have these.

  17. With all those dishes! I am melthing.. i love the presentation

  18. I am liking everything besides the stuffed pepper. I am not a pepper fan. But the food looks so good!!

  19. The stuffed peppers look great. I want.

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