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Henry’s Coastal Cuisine Debuts New Chef, Menu

Anyone who dined at The Center Club Orange County in Costa Mesa over the past decade knows the name of Chef Lewis Butler. While there he curated an upscale menu of seasonal favorites and popular classics. He also taught cooking classes and executed wine dinners, weddings, and charity galas.

Before his time at Center Club, he served as executive chef for JC Resorts at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach and the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.

During his tenure with the properties, Butler had the honor of being invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

The club’s location at Center Tower closed at the start of the year (the spot will be filled by a new private club, the Park Club, this October).

Fortunately for Butler, a new opportunity arose in the form of executive chef of Henry’s Coastal Cuisine at The Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.

The restaurant debuted in 2019 as a fine dining establishment, but the concept changed during the pandemic and now, with Butler at the helm, the restaurant has a modern vision and a new seasonally driven menu.

According to Butler, the menu at Henry’s Coastal Cuisine is a reflection of guests’ current dining preferences and will continue to evolve as those trends change.

“In addition to being the anchor restaurant for the hotel, our goal is to become a neighborhood favorite known for its creative, progressive, and consistently satisfying menu,” said Butler, who has been utilizing Meyer lemons found on the hotel property to create a signature marmalade.

Regional Flavors

The dinner menu features regional flavors from Southern California and South American shores with dishes centered around seafood.

Among the dishes: Grilled Octopus with roasted forest mushrooms and potatoes with carrot-truffle vinaigrette; Honey-Soy Marinated Hamachi Crudo with winter citrus and romesco sauce; Lobster Bisque with brandy cream and fennel streusel; Pan-Roasted Sea Scallops with fricassee of snap peas and chorizo-saffron foam; Crispy Skin Salmon with spinach horseradish puree, bacon-roasted vegetables, and lemon butter sauce; Pan-Roasted Sea Bass with confit marble potatoes, tapenade, and saffron sauce; Roasted Portobello Wellington with baby squash and vegetable pinot sauce; Braised Lamb Shank with wild mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus; and Grilled Filet of Beef Oscar with serrano-wrapped king crab, fondant Yukon gold potato, and béarnaise sauce. 

“We are focusing on local products, coastal items,” said Butler when I attended a media dinner last month. “I’m also a very visual guy. A chef once told me you eat with your eyes first, and with Instagram and TikTok everyone is visual, but I don’t want to lose the flavors.”

Butler came to Henry’s in fall 2021, and has had time to develop a menu he believes reflects the locale and the coastal ambiance. He often shops at farmers markets, and his suppliers source locally. He plans to change the menu three to four times a year to reflect the seasonality of ingredients.

Henry’s is open for dinner Thursday through Sunday, although Butler plans to add weekend brunch soon.

Henry’s Coastal Cuisine at The Waterfront Beach Resort: 21100 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, (714) 845-4000, waterfrontresort.com/dining/henrys-coastal-cuisine 

THE OCBJ Review

At a recent media dinner at Henry’s Coastal Cuisine at The Waterfront Beach Resort, Chef Lewis Butler offered a seven-course tasting menu that served as an appetizing tour through his menu, starting with the lovely crudo followed by cauliflower goat cheese fudge with caviar, poached radish and spirulina aioli. The goat cheese was indeed thick as fudge yet melted on the tongue. A unique dish, and one I would order again.

Next came the lobster bisque with brandy whipped cream, followed by crispy sweet corn agnolotti, crispy skin salmon, and grilled filet of beef Oscar. Chocolate lava cake concluded the meal.

The dishes were beautifully composed and balanced, with flavors and textures that complemented one another.

“It took me years to learn layers and textures, and how to get all the flavors and textures together,” Butler said.

If this is the direction Butler is taking the Henry’s menu, I’ll gladly go along for the ride.

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