• Restaurant Recommendation: BALEENkitchen

     
    FROM THE Summer 2019 ISSUE
     

    Come for the view and the fine dining fare at this Redondo Beach restaurant. Stay in the hotel for luxe guest rooms and exceptional events.

  • Restaurant Recommendation: BALEENkitchen

     
    FROM THE Summer 2019 ISSUE
     

    Come for the view and the fine dining fare at this Redondo Beach restaurant. Stay in the hotel for luxe guest rooms and exceptional events.

Just 7 miles south of  LAX, BALEENkitchen at the Portofino Hotel & Marina, a Noble House Hotel, in Redondo Beach offers up all the pleasures of dining in a seaport village, albeit a very fashionable one. The waterside restaurant has sweeping views of the King Harbor Marina while the seafood-centric menu offers tapas-style bites like lobster sliders, oysters, ahi tuna tacos, and main dishes that include panroasted diver scallops, grilled lobster tail and miso-glazed salmon. (There are plenty of options for meat lovers—grilled steaks and beef stroganoff—and vegetarians, too, including a Thai green curry and wild mushroom flatbread.) Open from 6:30 a.m. for breakfast to 10 p.m. with a midafternoon “social hour,” BALEENkitchen shares space with BALEENlounge, an inviting bar area with stellar cocktails, including the bourbonbased “I’ll Be Your Huckleberry” and the gincentered “Catch Me If You Can.” A private dining room within the sea-chic space—there are crystal chandeliers, a stately fireplace and ocean-hued lounge seating—seats 50.

Stylish design, convenience and first-rate cuisine aren’t the only elements that make BALEENkitchen appealing to planners. The Portofino Hotel is a great place to hold a meeting, too. The 161 guest rooms have been recently renovated and are ultraluxe, all with ocean and marina views. A freestanding meeting pavilion offers more than 8,000 square feet of event space, including two ballrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean and eight meeting and banquet rooms. The tucked-away Seaside Lawn is a picture-perfect location for cocktail parties, meeting breaks, team-building and more.

Green salad, chicken, two veggies and a starch—that might have been a reasonable meal to serve group attendees in the last century, but it won’t cut it in 2020. Today, guests expect that a growing range of dietary needs will be accommodated, whether they’re eating keto, vegan, paleo, gluten free or some combination of all four. And, in a time when tech employees enjoy gourmet in-house commissaries on the job, it takes some serious culinary pyrotechnics to impress them.

 

Lots of folks claim to be adventurous eaters, but are the epicureans in your group ready for … toasted grasshoppers? If they are, send them to Cultura Comidas y Bebida, a year-old Carmel restaurant specializing in light, inventive and almost-too-pretty-to-eat traditional Mexican dishes tweaked to appeal to a California palate. Chapulines, a common bar snack in Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca, from where they’re imported, are salty/spicy/crunchy and taste a lot better than they sound.

 

Perhaps your attendees have hopped on those electric bikes and e-scooters that are scattered all over metropolitan areas throughout California. That’s old news, no question. Yet it’s a sure bet they’ve never been on a Vintage Electric Cruz Bike, because only 250 of them ever have been made. Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop in Carmel has a fleet of these smile generators, as well as a fleet of knowledgeable guides to lead scenic group tours.