Social Kitchen & Craft Bar unveils an innovative summer menu and plans to open a Huntington Beach location.
By Sharon Stello
As Social Costa Mesa ramps up to open a second location—in Huntington Beach later this month—the popular eatery has rolled out a new summer menu with inventive fare created by Corporate Executive Chef Jeffrey Boullt, who was the original chef when the restaurant first opened in 2014.
Kitchen staffing changes at Social were among issues highlighted in an episode of “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell and Back,” a restaurant makeover show that aired on Fox in March, before Boullt came back on board in May to once again take the helm of the culinary sphere. The eatery is owned by Andrew and Raquel Dorsey and Chronic Tacos co-founder Dan Biello.
In the summer menu and dish lineup for the Huntington Beach space, Boullt’s creativity shines with options like the Cauli Crunch Roll—a play on sushi rolls, but made with a huge head of fried cauliflower, drizzled with creamy Dynamite Sauce as well as sweet soy sauce and topped with masago (or capelin fish roe). As one person at our table commented, it’s like onion ring-meets-cauliflower. Made with Chinese cauliflower, the longer stems keep it light and airy when cooked, Boullt explains. This will only be offered at the Huntington location, as will the Peruvian Bay Scallops, which are beautifully presented with a garnish of tiny flowers and a delicate topping of minced cucumber and melon as well as a habanero-yuzu ponzu sauce that’s at once flavorful and refreshing.
And, while seemingly simple, the Spanish chop salad is absolutely delicious. You’ll reach for serving after serving of this mix of Little Gem lettuce, chorizo blanco, peppers, olives and marcona almonds, tossed with sherry vinaigrette and topped with grated Idiazabal cheese. Diners will also be reaching for the brown butter-yuzu lobster roll. The soft, buttery roll is filled with chunks of succulent lobster, making for a decadent summer snack. Both the salad and lobster roll will be available in Huntington only.
In Costa Mesa, two more must-try bites are the braised lamb empanadas with Gringo Killer salsa and the wagyu beef tartare with truffle perlage (which looks like caviar, but is made from the juice of black winter truffles) to spread on slices of crusty baguette. For entrees, the wood-fired swordfish with mascarpone grits and De Ciccio broccoli (Costa Mesa), and the skirt steak with aji amarillo pepper and Huancaina sauce with yucca fries (Huntington) are also worth tucking into.
On the drink side of the menu, fun cocktails developed by Bar Director Grayson Diercksmeier are playful and perfect to pair with the dishes. The Tini Apple (Costa Mesa) is a reinterpretation of the classic Appletini, made as a slushie with Reyka vodka and Granny Smith apples as well as lime juice and cordial.
The sweet-and-smoky cantaloupe margarita (Huntington) brings together lemon verbena-infused tequila, melon syrup, Aperol, Yellow Chartreuse and tarragon, topped with three tiny melon balls balanced on a toothpick across the glass. Meanwhile, a spicy green bloody mary (Costa Mesa) incorporates the same Gringo Killer salsa as the empanadas as well as chile vodka, tomatillo juice and other ingredients, garnished with black salt and a purple chive blossom.
And the PB&J is a timeless treasure at both locations: House-made salted nut-infused whiskey is mixed with strawberry liqueur and creme de cassis, topped with peanut butter foam. Clipped to the side of the glass is a tiny plastic bag with a homemade peanut butter sandwich in homage to Uncrustables, a favorite childhood snack. “[It’s] our way of taking you back to the jungle gym or the swing set,” Diercksmeier says.
Adding to this playful approach, Social in Costa Mesa—not far from the Newport Beach border—has added a couch and some wicker swing chairs near the entry—part of the “To Hell and Back” makeover—to make it easier for guests to gather and, well, be social.
The Huntington location is expected to be bright and airy with elevated interpretations of coastal cuisine. Some special promotions will encourage diners to hang out at the Huntington spot. Taco Tuesday will feature $3 tacos incorporating house-made tortillas and unique flavor combinations. Happy hour will continue all night on Wednesdays with $7 food and drink options. Then, on Thursdays, king crab legs will be added to the menu, while Friday guests will find a 1-pound wagyu prime rib-eye. Weekends will bring brunch with bottomless mimosas. And, finally, round out the week with fried chicken suppers on Sunday nights. A patio with a pass-through bar window will keep guests entertained with lawn games like cornhole and oversized Jenga. And there will be a fire pit for groups to gather around through summer and beyond.