I recently visited SeaLegs Wine Bar for the first time to see what all the fuss was about, after they were nominated for the 2013 Golden Foodie Awards, Best New Restaurant. During my visit, I discovered that SeaLegs Wine Bar is not only a hip wine bar, but also one of the better restaurants that I have experienced in Orange County. The restaurant is the passion project of owners Alicia Whitney and Lisa Nonemaker escaped the corporate world to “focus on what really matters — good wine (bubbles!), beer, food, and chocolate.” Together the navigated their dream from fantasy to real success.
Enter the raffle on the bottom of this post to wine a $25 gift certificate to SeaLegs Wine Bar.
This Isn’t your Momma’s Wine Bar
If you come to SeaLegs looking for a quiet place to huddle with your friends over wine while listening to Michael Bolton’s greatest hits, then this isn’t your wine bar. Located just minutes away from Downtown Huntington Beach, Sealegs Wine Bar offers a hip, yet classy alternative to the Main Beach hang outs. With modern music playing overhead, you can enjoy some really good wines and “California Tapas” with friends in a fun environment. The ambiance is also dark enough to be romantic. I personally observed quite a few couples having a good time on dates; I even noticed a couple of people making a connection over wine.
The interior is decorated with dark woods, warm lights and has a subtle resemblance to New England design, but splashed with California cool. The glass-walled 2000 bottle wine cellar spans the entire length of the bar and rises from floor to ceiling. Aside from their expansive wine collection, they also served a nice collection of craft beer on tap and bottle.
Wine and Food
Sealegs Wine Bar had an impressive wine menu,by the glass and bottle; although, the food stole the show. The menu is set up as “California tapas”, essentially generously portioned small plates that are meant for sharing among table mates. When I visited SeaLegs Wine Bar we tried the wine pairing dinner. By the time we finished, we were stuffed and feeling happy. The wine pairing menu was a great way experience a solid sampling of their food and wine: Here is what we ordered:
Wine Pairing Dinner Round One Fragrant Snare Chardonnay Blend, Paso Robles – This was a lovely wine made with 50% chardonnay, 20% Gewurztraminer, 20% Muscat and 10% Viognier. The wine had a nose of tropical and citrus fruit blossoms. The mouth was of sweet stone fruit and cloves. The wine had a slight tingle and was remarkably balanced considering the amount of sweet grapes. It was a perfect match for the food accompaniments
SeaLegs Summer Salad: This salad is made with arugula, strawberries, oranges, figs, feta, candied walnuts, with a rose white balsamic vinaigrette. This was a nicely balanced salad with a clean finish.
Lump Crab Cakes – Two crab cakes the size of my palm were served with a with lemon tarragon aioli and micro celery. I liked the flavor and density of real crab in these cakes. When I cut the cakes open I could see that they were made of mostly crab, no fillers here. The light and fruity chardonnay blend was a nice accompaniment to the creamy crab cake.
Zotovich Estate Syrah, Santa Barbara – This wine had a nose of spice, berries, wild flower and pepper. The mouth of the wine had flavors of blackberries, spices, and had a slight edge on the finish.
Drunken Forest Mushroom Crostini: Forest -Fresh mushrooms were sautéed in Chianti and mixed with Asiago cheese, micro basil, herb oil served atop toasted points. This plate was a savory play on crostini, with the nutty flavors of the mushrooms spiced with the reduced Chianti. I liked the nutty edge of the Asiago against the mushrooms and toasted points. This dish definitely played well with the Zotovich.
Truffle Mac and Cheese: This adult style mac and cheese delivered big flavors through the combination of three types of cheese and truffle oil. The cheddar provided the creamy texture and flavor to the dish. The blue cheese provided to umphh to the dish and the mozzarella provided some elasticity to the texture. The truffle oil added an ever-present umami nose to the finish of dish. The white cheddar crust on top added the right amount of course texture to keep this dish interesting well past my fourth serving. The Syrah did a great job at breaking up the rich flavors and textures of this dish by adding light tannins and hints of berry to cleanse the palate.
Wine Pairing Dinner Rounds Three
Force of Nature Cabernet Sauvignon, Rob Murray Vineyards , Paso Robles- This was a very impressive wine with a nose of black berry, caramel soft-chews. The flavor was of chocolate, wild raspberry, cranberry pine and mineral.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus: slightly crunchy grilled asparagus are wrapped in prosciutto and topped with roasted tomato, pine nuts, lemon juice. This dish technically sounds great, although it was too salty to be properly enjoyed. Our waitress explained that this dish was not normally that salty and offered us a replacement, but I declined because I was already getting full.
Marinated Flank Steak: A strip of flank steak is marinated in a Korean style marinade called bulgogi, which consists of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic. I was expecting Korean BBQ flavor, instead I tasted was a well-seasoned flank steak that placed the flavors of natural beef on the forefront on my palate. The sweet, salty and savory accents merely support the steak’s flavor. It was served with mirin glazed Brussels’s sprouts and pickled onions. The Force of Nature Cab was a perfect pair for this dish as it helped cut through the flavors. This was my favorite dish of the night.
Salt of the Earth , Flore De Moscato – San Joaquin Valley – This is a sweet dessert wine with balance. The nose of the wine was sweet of macerated peaches, pineapple, and honeysuckle. I tasted flavors of baked peaches, sweet plums, ripe pineapple, tartar and coarse brown sugar. This is a sweet wine but it was balanced with rounded edges.
Bananas Foster French Toast: This is s fun play on French toast that is made with house made brioche and topped with bananas fosters style flambéed bananas, walnuts, cinnamon rum and caramel sauce. The dish was topped with a scoop French vanilla ice cream. I could eat this all day. Overall I was very impressed by the quality of food and wine at SeaLegs Wine Bar.
I learned why WineLegs has been receiving fanfare and awards. I really enjoyed the wine selection, delicious food and genuinely friendly service. Probably the only detractor of this restaurant is the noise level can get a bit loud during the dinner rush. With that said, the noise didn’t really bother me as I was not attempting to have a serious conversation, but rather enjoying the atmosphere and people watching. I plan on coming back to SeaLegs, as I fell in love with their food and wine selection. I just wish I discovered this place a little sooner.
SeaLegs Wine Bar
21022 Beach Blvd Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Friday & Saturday 11:30am -11:30pm
HAPPY HOUR – Monday-Friday 4pm- 6pm
Sunday 11am-10pm (Champagne Brunch from 11-3pm, regular dinner menu after 3pm on Sundays)
SeaLegs Wine Bar Gift Card Giveaway
I asked the owner of the restaurant if she was interested in doing a gift card giveaway to my readers and she agreed. I am of the thought process that if I gush over a restaurant, I should get my reader’s opinion as well to validate my experiences. I will be running a five-day raffle for (1) $25 gift card to SeaLegs. This should be enough to cover some wine and a small plate. If you win, let me know about your experience. Although the gift card was provided as a give away to my readers, the opinions expressed in this post are purely my own, based on a delicious meal. See my disclosure statement in my About page.
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