The Gossiping Gourmet: Hip new wine bar in Surf City has got legs

"If you are lucky enough to drink wine by the sea … you are lucky enough."

That is the motto of SeaLegs Wine Bar, a new hip spot in Huntington Beach. "By the sea," in this case, means just a few blocks up the street.

This attractive and inviting newcomer features a two-story wall of wine fronted by a row of crystal chandeliers over the bar, which might give you the impression that this place is really swanky, but as handsome as it is, it's still very casual.

Dining options include a nice menu of small plates and one or two specials for the evening. You can hang out with a glass of wine, partake of a tasting flight, have a small bite or put together a meal of small plates. Sit at the bar, in the dining area or in the cozy lounge.

This variety of choices makes SeaLegs the latest go-to spot in H.B., but high energy and lots of wine makes for a loud crowd.

The menu is divided into two sections: food that goes well with white wines and a suggested pairing for each, and plates they recommend with a red wine pairing. They also have two salads and a selection of desserts.

In order to keep our wits about us we could not indulge in the pairings, but we certainly enjoyed the food. We loved the garlic shrimp — sweet sautéed crustaceans swimming in a pond of garlic olive oil with a few crushed chilies, accompanied by warm crusty bread that made the perfect utensil for sopping up the luscious liquid. We requested a second helping of bread and still had plenty of sauce left over.

After all that bread, we were glad to discover that the very flavorful crab cakes were almost all crabmeat and no filler. The finely shredded lump crab was accented with some tiny bits of red bell pepper, green onions and a hint of spiciness. The two good-sized cakes were brown-crusted, served with a swipe of lemon tarragon aioli and garnished with micro-celery, which tasted like watercress.

The very cheesy truffle mac and cheese was too rich for our blood. There was lots of mild cheese and cream, topped off with a layer of melted provolone and some toasted breadcrumbs. The three cheeses turned into one note and the truffle oil was almost indiscernible. We were longing for another contrasting flavor to balance the richness.

The broth for their mussels and clams was spiked with white wine, mellowed with leeks and herbs, then enlivened with garlic and salty pancetta, which meant more bread and more dunking. The mussels varied both in size and taste but the clams, which are usually not up to par on the West Coast, were surprisingly good.

A unique take on chicken tacos were the three mini-tortillas stuffed with shredded dark meat prepared like carnitas: well seasoned, tender and crispy on the edges. They were topped with paper-thin radishes, pickled onions and slathered with an excellent housemade green salsa.

We just wished the tortillas had been warmed or roasted so they hadn't tasted just out of the package.

SeaLegs also get high marks for desserts, at least for the two we tasted. Cobblers usually don't have a bottom crust because the juices from the fruit will make it soggy, and so it was with their peach cobbler.

However, the sweetened peaches were intensely fruity and delicious. The top crust was thin and baked separately, then placed on top for serving so it remained crisp. The dish was served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream melting into it.

The humongous slice of chocolate cake was simply outrageous. The cake was dense and moist with a deep, rich chocolate flavor. A light, creamy chocolate mousse separated the four layers and the thick frosting tasted like a wonderful, slightly soft, dark chocolate bar. Heaven!

ELLE HARROW and TERRY MARKOWITZ were in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. They can be reached for comments or questions at

SeaLegs Wine Bar

Where: 21022 Beach Blvd., #105, Huntington Beach

When: 5 p.m. till closing daily


Small Plates: $4-$14

Desserts: $ 3-$7


Glass: $7-$14

Bottle: $25-$110

Information: (714) 536-5700

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World