Today is: Sunday, January 19, 2020
Baleen Restaurant Review
Baleen Restaurant, nationally renowned for its serious food and whimsical mood, Baleen brings an eccentric fine dining experience to The Portofino. A grand circular driveway and custom water feature frame the entrance, while chandelier-hanging monkeys join with a marina and firepit backdrop to set the interior tone. And Baleen’s new offerings are just as eclectic as the restaurant’s design. Wonderful Wednesday wine tastings (second Wednesday of June, July & August) will feature a different growing region (New Zealand, Chile, Sonoma Coast) each month and include light appetizers, Superlative wine dinners, held the last Wednesday of each month, take
the dining decadence one step further, and include seasonally fresh pairings and
the sommelier’s finest selections from the cellar. Finally, in a journey back to
the hotel’s early roots, Sundays will host traditional and tasty crawfish
boils, with all-you-can-eat crawfish and $3 beers.
Ever-varying culinary art and theatre, with front row seats to the Pacific. That’s the Baleen experience. The menu includes all tastes with beef, chicken, and vegetarian options, making a trip to this room ideal for private parties, a relaxing, elegant
dinner, or a social happy hour spent at their full bar and mini lounge.
Stepping inside is a distinctive experience, like arriving at an underwater sanctuary away from the chaos of the Redondo Beach’s busiest streets. The room glows
with soothing hues of aqua and coral, like seawater reflecting off the room’s interior surfaces. A bar flows along the length of the restaurant, a social space where
guests will enjoy a marvelous marina view. Their bar provides intimate lounge
space at the rear of the restaurant perfect for indulging in their daily happy
hour specials. The bar provides an appealing backdrop to remind diners of
the many treasures hidden in the ocean’s depths to be discovered.
Long Island Ice Tea
Our charming server suggested I try one of their signature martinis while we
relaxed and watched Chef Michael Thomas steam our appetizers. My
guest had a Margarita, and I had a great red wire. Along with a
full bar, Baleen has a well-rounded wine list.
Saku Stone “Sashimi”
We started out with a selection of great appetizers that were absolutely to die for: The Hot Japanese Saku Stone “Sashimi” and our choice was the Chef’s Combo Three Ounce with Natural Sirloin, Jumbo Sea Scallop and Ahi Tuna, one of the specialties
of the house. Chef Michael Thomas brought it to us and most likely picked out the meat himself, as he personally searches out his selections, which change daily according to what is most fresh. I must admit that both my guest and I were a little apprehensive about what to expect, but the shooter slid gently down the throat,
a pleasant colliding of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors in one smooth swallow.
Next we tried the Crispy Latin Style Seafood Cakes, an artful arrangement of the most colossal cakes I’ve ever seen, with Maine Lobster, Blue Crab, Scallops
with Heirloom Tomato Jam, Guacamole and Lime Sour Cream. The tender
meats inside were delicious, one of the best Seafood Cakes I’ve ever tasted.
We also had the Duck Crostini, which my guest truly enjoyed and the
Braised Lamb “Ravioli” with Egg Noodle, Kalamata Olive,
Manouri Cheese, Shallot Coulis and White Truffle Oil.
Their appetizer menu also offers standard favorites like ½ dozen
Oysters, Ahi Tuna Tartar and Classic Shrimp Cocktail.
My guest ordered a bowl of the Clam Chowder, asserting that clam chowder is the ultimate judge of a seafood restaurant’s quality. When he tasted it, he gave his nod
of approval, the chowder was more broth-like than some, but chock full of clams, making it simultaneously less heavy and more hardy than most chowders.
I tried their signature BLT Salad. Braised Apple Wood
Smoke Bacon with Marinated Tomatoes and Avocado,
one of the best salads of their menu, we loved it.
Before moving to our entrees; our server help me to select a wine to compliment our meal, a Dopff & Irion Crustacés from Alsace. This vintage blends Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer for a light, dry wine with sweet hints of
apple and citrus. It is sold by the glass, as is most of the list, but its festive
label covered in various crustaceans makes ordering the bottle worth it!
New Zealand Grouper
As if all this was not enough food, it was time for the entrees. First was the
Vanilla Poached New Zealand Grouper, along with Forbidden Black
Rice and Mango Salsa Fresca, one of the best fish I have ever tried,
I would compare it with the Seabass but even better.
Roquefort Crusted Filed
We also ordered the Roquefort Crusted Filed; Short Rib Hash, Potato
Puree, Roquefort Foundue and Asparagus. Also, on the side we ordered the Wild Mushrooms, that was a great combination that went well with these amazing entrees. And I can’t forget to mention that Chef Thomas surprised us with the special of the night the Salmon entrée which will also became one of the official entrees.
It was deliciously prepared and the taste was perfect.
Side of Mushrooms
Although we selected two different dishes as our entrees, Baleen’s menu provides Crusted Ahi Tuna, Soy Glazed Artic Char, Sea Bass, Baleen Cioppino, Fresh Seafood Linguini, Lemon Chicken, etc, that will please even the seafood shy, as
well as steamed main lobster and king crab legs for the seafood purist.
Warm Blueberry Soup
Lemon Sunset Crème Brulee
Stuffed by this point, we had our server, box up the remains of our generous entrees, but not before Chef Thomas managed to tempt us to try 4 of their desserts. We were happy we did; the Pecan Cheesecake with Crème Brulee was amazing, we also sampled the Warm Blueberry Soup, The Jack Daniels Brownie Sunday and the Lemon Sunset Crème Brulee. It was the most delicious desserts we’ve ever
tasted, and although I was not able to finish it, I certainly tried!
Jack Daniels Brownie Sunday
Chef Michael Thomas
Our Excellent Server
In a world that is increasingly unpredictable, it's comforting to know that there
are still a few places left where you can find dependable, caring service and
world-class cuisine being served adjacent to a stunning, seaside panorama.
The lucky patrons who regularly dine there have already
discovered that Baleen is at the top of the list.
For map and location click Here!
For more information please visit their website at www.hotelportofino.com
Article by: Mary Adams
Photos by: Chris Marx
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