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Gourmet, Surf City Style

Jamie Gwen | October 3, 2016 | Feature Features

Tanner's at the new Paséa Hotel & Spa is helping turn Huntington Beach into a culinary destination.
The grilled peach flatbread boasts hints of mint, honey mascarpone and peach chutney.

Surf City is not what it used to be. It’s completely gentrified with laid-back luxury and a coastal-chic vibe. And, situated next to the polished Pacific City retail hub, the new Paséa Hotel & Spa is setting the bar high for Huntington Beach. It’s swag, sophisticated and Miami-esque, and it stands in the heart of an iconic SoCal destination, with clear views of the city’s famous pier and within earshot of the crashing waves. Finally, Paséa has arrived—a beachy oasis, with plenty of windows that welcome in the salty air. It feels like Hawaii, open and breezy, but it’s edgy and progressive. And it’s bustling. This is not the H.B. my husband, a native of the town, remembers from his childhood.

As you’d expect from any modern, full-service hotel, Paséa boasts a gourmet restaurant—Tanner’s, and it’s elevating the local culinary scene. At the helm: chef Igor Krichmar, who hails from Bouchon Bistro, Wynn Las Vegas and a few Chicago eateries. And he’s conceptualized a stellar menu, utilizing his impressive 72-inch cherry and citrus wood-fire grill. His glorious exhibition kitchen gives you a clear view of his talented team. Lunch and dinner are offered daily from the same menu. And the cocktails on draft from the Treehouse Bar—an ubercool hangout on the upper level, with prime viewing of the action on the beach—are something to buzz about.

Back to the restaurant: You’ll spot that exhibition kitchen almost as soon as you enter the hotel lobby. The well-trained and hospitable service staff will make you feel more than welcome. Choose a table overlooking the sand and toast the kickoff of your dining adventure with a #hellaCali. The cocktail list reads Ketel One Vodka, lime, ginger and avocado—yes, avocado. The smooth, silky fruit is blended in for a voluptuous mouthfeel, and the lime and ginger offer a contrasting, refreshing acidity. The Moscow mule and the Shankara sangria on draft are well-made too. Peruse the wine list, and you’ll see a mix of unique bottles: a classic white Burgundy, a Spanish tempranillo and an Alexander Valley cab, to name a few. Beers on draft are local picks—don’t miss the Coconut Amber from Four Sons, an H.B. brewery.

Settle into your beach-view table and ask about the chef’s daily specials. If you’re lucky, he’ll be offering Wagyu Tart Tar in a roasted marrowbone. Oh, yes. And you can complement your starting snacks with a big bowl of fried calamari, made with in-house pickled Fresno chiles, or the tempura shishito peppers. The signature pretzel bread will arrive right about now, along with a helping of decadent Dijon honey butter, and you might be tempted to forgo additional dishes because this combo is addictive. But resist that temptation—the starters are simply too good to miss. Take the ahi tuna sashimi, for example—it’s fire-kissed, and it carries a hint of ginger and is served with grilled pineapple for a tropical explosion of flavor. And the grilled peach flatbread, albeit a bit thick on the bread side, asserts a luscious mint pesto, honeyed mascarpone and fire-roasted peach chutney—truly delicious toppings for a very Cali-inspired pizza.

Moving on, you’ll be tempted by the stellar burger—half a pound of house-ground beef dressed with a cheddar cheese spread, two more cheeses and caramelized onions. It’s a beauty. The whole snapper is another winner—fire-grilled and served with warm tortillas, citrus salsa and guacamole. The vegetarian delight was my favorite dish on the table: an umami-rich, creamy and hearty white corn and black garlic risotto, garnished with spiced heirloom carrots and finished with an almond curry.

Although the restaurant opened to roaring crowds just a few months ago and has had to quickly fulfill the demand, the gastronomic experience at Tanner’s is stellar. The evident philosophy to treat the guest with impeccable hospitality is ever-present, and the casual but cultured ambience at Tanner’s can be felt throughout. After dinner, venture upstairs to the swanky Treehouse Bar for a nightcap, and the sounds of crashing waves will remind you that you’re in the heart of Surf City. Yes, Paséa is a coastal playground of fabulous food, delicious drinks and stunning service offered seaside. You’ll love it.


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