Today is considered the grand opening of Kettlebar in Tustin. And by grand, we mean their first day of both lunch and dinner service. We snuck in on Friday night to get a lay of the land at the first full-service eatery inside Union Market. Here is our story (cue Law & Order sound effect).
Since we were flying solo, sitting in front of the kettles was mandatory. We haven't dined at their original location in Anaheim, but sensed a difference off the bat: windows. The massive, aquarium-style panes of glass separating us from the lookie-loos outside made us wonder if this is how zoo animals felt. Our server was Andrea; the main guy manning the kettles was Jerry. They were hustling, despite multiple practice runs over the past few days.
Standing in the cooking station in front of us were two bottles. The first was brandy. A fine girl, we learned her responsibilities included deglazing, speeding up cooking time and adding an extra layer of flavor to dishes like their house pan roast. Shoot, we thought they were for shots! The other vessel was Clean Slate German Riesling. We were surprised to find out it was an ingredient in Kettlebar's hot sauce. Mixed with habaneros, red chili flakes and other secret ingredients, chef was happy to make a batch for the group next to us.
For those not familiar with their menu, this is a seafood lover's home with bonuses of oysters plus full bar. Dessert has a yummy beignet option, but ice cream was on our agenda (especially after reading one with salted caramel and bourbon). What took a while to serve was the kitchen whipping our cream to order, not that we're complaining. Kettlebar is likely to steal business away from the chain that is Bluewater once word gets out of their existence, and for that reason we know they'll do just fine.
Kettlebar Steam Cooking is located at 2493 Park Ave, Tustin, (714) 258-8162; www.kettlebar.com.