The Gossiping Gourmet: Eureka! It's a new restaurant!

Bella Terra in Huntington Beach seems to be opening new restaurants right and left, much to my delight.

The latest addition is called Eureka! and it specializes in burgers, although there is a lot more from which to choose. The restaurant décor is following what has become a big trend lately, the industrial look. It consists of open ductwork, lots of repurposed wood and steel beams, along with brown cement floors and interesting, contemporary hanging light fixtures, many like chandeliers with open bulbs.

There is also a pleasant outdoor patio with a fire pit and a large fountain, as well as a pretty view of tall palms and bougainvillea. It's an attractive spot with a very casual vibe.

Eureka! is proud to feature locally sourced produce and fresh-baked breads. The burgers are made from natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free, 100% vegetarian-fed beef. The staff is equally proud of the large selection of craft beers and whiskeys, all made in America. The wines are all Californian.

The menu offers a nice selection of starters that you could easily turn into a meal. My dining companion and I shared two of them. The lollipop corn dogs were polish sausages rolled into balls and covered with a sweet corn batter, then fried. They were skewered on sticks, and there were five to an order.

We found them addicting. The sausage was salty and full of garlic, and the corn covering was just the right thickness. Three sauces came on the side. We liked the spicy porter mustard best — it had a nice tang. The excellent homemade ketchup came in second, but the ranch dressing, alas, was too mild.

The Eureka! Wings were good and spicy, fried with chili garlic sauce that had a hint of sweetness. One order had eight wings. They were very moist. On the side was more ranch dressing for cooling off the heat, but the crunchy wings had plenty of flavor on their own, and we thought the heat was just perfect.

Braver souls can order the wings with homemade firecracker sauce. Some carrots and celery sticks came on the side. They were handy for dipping up some of the dressing.

The burger menu features 10 selections, including a vegetarian beet burger. You also have the option of substituting the meat for a turkey or veggie patty.

I was taken by the sound of a Fresno fig burger. The beef patty was first-rate — thick and juicy and the star of the show. It was topped with housemade fig marmalade, luscious melted goat cheese and crispy bacon and finished with a little salad of arugula, a few finely diced tomatoes and red onions, all tossed in a spicy porter mustard dressing.

I enjoyed the many flavors and textures, and the sweet marmalade was a great touch. The sandwich came with Eureka!'s signature hand-cut Kennebec French fries. These were soft inside with a bit of crispiness on the exterior. What I especially liked was that they had the skins on them.

We wanted to explore an offering from the House Signatures! menu, which has items such as pan-seared salmon, naked chicken saltimbocca and rustic hanger steak. Our choice was the braised short ribs with housemade pan gravy, horseradish mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. Some very thin, lightly fried onions were mounded on top of the potatoes, but they were undercooked and soggy. Two nice big chunks of well-seasoned beef had been cooked until fork tender in the gravy. The potatoes were smooth and tasty but had almost no flavor of horseradish, which was fine with me.

The restaurant offers only two desserts, and we selected the butterscotch pudding with sea salt and a caramel sauce drizzle. The pudding was very smooth and creamy, and the little kick of sea salt was great. I also liked the fact that the whipped cream was barely sweetened.

I think Eureka! is destined to be a very popular spot.

TERRY MARKOWITZ was in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. She can be reached for comments or questions at m_markowitz@cox.net.

Eureka!

Where: 7631 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach (Bella Terra)

When: 11 a.m. to midnight daily

Prices:

Appetizers: $5.95 to $14.95

Burgers: $9.75 to $14.95

Entrées: $8.95 to $23.50

Desserts: $6

Wine:

Bottles: $22 to $35

By the glass: $7 to $12

Corkage fee: $10

Information: (714) 230-3955 or http://www.eurekarestaurantgroup.com

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