Calico, a brand new seafood and chop home in Huntington Seaside, is in some methods a return to type for native chef and restaurateur Andrew Gruel and his spouse and enterprise companion, Lauren.
The restaurant sits on the nook of Admiralty Drive and Pacific Coast Freeway in Sundown Seaside, taking the place of Fish Camp, a seafood restaurant that closed final 12 months. Calico is known as after the Calico Bass, which is native to the waters of southern California.
The couple, finest identified for creating Slapfish, an award-winning fast-casual seafood franchise, bought the corporate final 12 months, with no plans to return to brick-and-mortar shops.
“Inside 24 hours of promoting Slapfish, we bought a name that we had to return into the meals market the place the outdated Fish Camp was,” Gruel stated. “This was not within the incubation, it was not within the plan. We have been hoping to take a while off and journey with our youngsters.”
However the area, which did not change a lot bodily aside from the inside, was too good to go up and inside a couple of months they have been up and working.
The menu is chef curated and could have rotating proteins relying on what the fishermen who drive to Lengthy Seaside cease by the restaurant to drop off every day.
“The method we’ve right here is to make dishes that everybody is aware of and elevate them,” Gruel stated.
So as a substitute of constructing a traditional of the normal LA baseball sport, like a bacon wrapped sizzling canine, they make a lobster sizzling canine, a floor lobster sizzling canine that’s rolled daily within the kitchen, wrapped with bacon and topped with a pickle relish on a brioche bun.
“We felt like we weren’t executed with Slapfish but,” Gruel stated. The chain’s new house owners closed the principle location in Huntington Seaside and Uncooked Bar by Slapfish.
“Once we began Uncooked Bar in 2018, it was a studying curve,” Gruel stated. “By 2022, individuals could not get sufficient.”
Gruel’s emphasis on sustainably sourced meals started at Slapfish, however has continued throughout all of its eating places. In Calico, it does not simply apply to seafood. Poultry, and the place doable natural grass-fed meat, are raised cruelty-free on free-range farms all through California and natural greens are sourced from Melissa’s Produce, the nation’s largest specialty produce distributor headquartered in California. in Los Angeles.
A part of Gruel’s schooling on sustainable sourcing is that it not solely has all the advantages of guaranteeing an ocean’s rising inhabitants, but it surely’s additionally about understanding that sustainable meals tastes higher too.
The restaurant additionally does not use seed oils (like canola oil or sesame oil, for instance), however as a substitute cooks with ghee (clarified butter), olive oil or avocado oil, beef tallow, and bacon fats that Gruel admits to It prices much more, but it surely improves the standard of the meals which is their most important precedence.
“Individuals can really feel good coming right here to eat,” stated Lauren Gruel. “They do not need to really feel bloated consuming out.”
The total-service, full-bar restaurant can be a departure from greater than a decade of expertise within the quick informal area with Slapfish and its different new ideas.
“We all know every thing there’s to know in regards to the quick informal area, and it takes excessive quantity to have the ability to pay dwelling wages and above,” Gruel stated. “Individuals do not wish to pay $20 or $25 a plate and it is available in a cardboard field.”
However that does not imply they’ve left the quick informal area solely. Later this month, on the third Avenue Promenade in Santa Monica, they plan to open an area the place visitors can order choose gadgets from Calico and two different ideas, Lolo’s Tacos and 101 Burgers.
The hope is to construct model recognition, simply because the Slapfish meals truck did in its early days, earlier than finally opening extra brick-and-mortar places in Orange County.
Present service hours are 11 am to 9 pm in the course of the week and till 10 pm on weekends. In two weeks, the restaurant will open earlier to serve a brand new brunch menu that may embody classics like steak and eggs, lobster breakfast burritos and extra.
A grand opening that will probably be open to the general public can even be introduced quickly.
VISIT: Calico Fish Home, 16600 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Seaside; 562-357-4012; www.calico-restaurant.com