Let’s face it: When it comes to seaside dining in Orange County, we’re replete with myriad options dotting the shores of our famous coastline. Yet in Surf City, the truly elevated eateries—where white tablecloths, at-your-beck-and-call waiters and gourmet flavors are combined to reach five-star levels—have lived in the shadow of its taco- and margarita-filled counterparts. Enter Henry’s Ocean View Dining, the stunning new signature restaurant at the revamped Waterfront Beach Resort that’s turning that tide in luxurious new directions. What Studio and Waterline are to Montage Laguna Beach and Balboa Bay Resort, Henry’s is to this award-winning Huntington Beach hotel—a dining destination that stands on its own two legs, enticing both locals and visitors alike to make a reservation inside its coveted walls. The dedication to its regional roots begins with its name—a nod to Henry E. Huntington, the railroad pioneer who changed the landscape of California transportation with the Pacific Electric Railway, bringing its famous Red Cars to O.C. with a stop at the Huntington Beach Pier at the turn of the century.
The main dining room at Henry's Ocean View Dining
The locality also extends to the restaurant’s well-appointed design. Led by Trabuco Canyon’s Cora Klang, the aesthetic is approachable yet refined with elegant pendant lighting, wood and leather accents, and an intricate luminscent ceiling covering its indoor-outdoor patio. A live guitar player serves as the soundtrack, and the salty ocean breeze blows through the expansive space that offers both cozy indoor seating and poolside, ocean-view outdoor options to boot.
Chef de cuisine Kenny Seliger
When it comes to ordering, take chef de cuisine Kenny Seliger’s advice—he knows his way around a kitchen thanks to a résumé that includes L.A.’s Wirtshaus, NYC’s Bouchon and Montage Laguna Beach’s The Loft. “For the best way to experience Henry’s, start with the smoked Conductor cocktail, and for an appetizer, the sustainable salmon bowl is a quick understanding of who we are,” he notes. “On the entree side, if you’re a beef lover, you have to try the Gracie Farms ribeye (served with fresh wasabi root, preserved lemon and black sea salt), but if beef isn’t your thing, then [order] the pasture bird half-chicken—we age the chicken for three days in-house first and dress it in brown chicken jus rosemary and lavender brush.”
Farmers market tomatoes with popped buckwheat and classic pesto
For an easy entry into Seliger’s culinary expertise, book a reservations-only four- to six-course tasting menu and prepare to be dazzled. The plates are as tasty as they are beautiful, as the presentation here is a work of art in itself (see the photoworthy Mussels on the Rocks complete with sea foam and strands of seaweed).
And as the sun sets, finish with the decadent chocolate banana mousse cake or the chef’s favorite, corn creme brulee. “The Waterfront Beach Resort was ready to open a restaurant that would make the hotel a destination for locals in O.C. and not just travelers,” adds General Manager Robert Redaelli. It’s safe to say that goal has been achieved with Seliger serving as the star conductor. Full steam ahead, indeed.
The Locomotive cocktail, featuring mezcal, jalapenos, cilantro and fresh lime juice, garnished with housemade red wine salt