320 Main in Seal Beach rightfully gets praised in these pages again and again as OC's premier cocktail lab, a place where owner Jason Schiffer and his manager Dave Castillo dominate local competitors like the 1927 New York Yankees and give LA's bartenders not only a run for their money, but frequently beat them (more on that in a bit). One aspect that 320 Main doesn't nearly get enough praise for, however, is their menu. It ain't no small-plates trend here, but rather all about comfort food experimentation via the prism of comfort food, whether stunning hamburgers, perfect flatbreads and delightful quirks: most of this year had an appetizer of fried sunchokes that would've made you swear off tater tots forever.
That's unfortunately no longer on the menu, because the restaurant has a new chef whose name I didn't catch when I saw Schiffer recently. But she's already off to a great start, with lobster sliders seemingly pulled from Bangor, and an "appetizer" of Bleu Tenders that's one of the better chicken preparations I've had all year. They're deceptively simple: fried chicken strips soaked in a Buffalo-esque sauce thickened with blue cheese, then topped with blue cheese--nothing more, nothing less. But the taste! Spicy, creamy, silky chicken, crunchy skin, with a sauce you want to take home and glaze over every meat possible and is now the standard by which all OC chicken wing sauces are now judged. The damn bleu tenders are so good that the chica and I polished off the plate and had to take our entrees home--and that never happens.
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Yeah, I know: 320 Main is in Seal Beach, which is as inconvenient for most of OC as Placentia. But Schiffer and his crew continue to refine their gem, like how the 1927 Yankees turned into the Bronx Bombers of Joe McCarthey, which begat the teams of Casey Stengal--okay, enough baseball metaphors for the week...