Brand new in Huntington Beach's Bella Terra is Eureka! American Craft Grill. Nestled in the base of one of the residential buildings in the plaza of Bella Terra, with a stunning patio and waterfall to enjoy on those nice SoCal days, the location makes for a nice plate to meet friends for lunch, dinner or their new Happy Hour. While dining there today, the Examiner spoke to Zach Hatem, General Manager for the new location. “To be honest with you, the location couldn't be better”, Zach said. “We're right in the heart of Bella Terra, right on the bottom of this five-story luxury apartment complex. The facilities in the mall are phenomenal and just having the mall traffic is great! Our biggest opportunity is grabbing more lunch business during the day”. Eureka! combines several concepts that work especially well for the Bella Terra mixed-residential development, making it not only a great destination for an afternoon or evening out but also a place where the residents can just come down the elevator to and have a quality place to enjoy a meal and drinks.
Eureka! already has some dishes which are well on their way to being 'must get' items. Eureka! prides itself on obtaining craft beers and whiskeys, preferably from local sources, for use in their bar. With the emphasis on whiskey as a preferred beverage for their bar, the Old Fashioned seemed like a very good choice. When it came the cocktail was attractively garnished. An interesting touch was that it only had one large ice cube in the glass. Of course, that results in a drink that stays fresh longer without becoming watered down after every sip. It is admittedly a small detail, but one that shows that Eureka! has recognized that those details often make a big difference. The bottom line was that the drink has a nice balance between sweet and sour as well as a nice balance to the whiskey. It was a delicious, very smooth drink and certainly a nice start to a meal.
Naturally, appetizers are a popular item to snack on while enjoying some adult beverages. The chefs at Eureka! have taken several appetizers and put their own spin on them. Zach's favorite is the Lollipop Corn Dogs. “We use a great smoked Polish sausage, cut into one inch pieces, skewered and dipped into our house-made corn dog batter, with corn meal, spices and brown sugar. It's a really rich corn dog batter; it's awesome! It's then deep-fried and served with dipping sauces, a spicy porter mustard, a house-made ranch dressing and ketchup. All the sauces we have here are made fresh, every day, from locally sourced ingredients”. Zach finished by saying, “The corn dogs are really my guilty pleasure. I have a hard time staying away from them, they are very addicting!”
The Osso Buco Riblets were made of short pieces of pork ribs, yielding a tiny rib about the size of a thumb. A pile of them was served. The ribs were delicious, the “Osso Buco” term implying that the cooking method is a slow braise, concentrating flavors and making the ribs extremely tender. These riblets were so tender that the meat indeed easily fell off of the bone. Taste wise, they were wonderful, with the Asian sauce coating them at with a tasty sherry based firecracker aioli, just spicy enough to add a little kick. The firecracker aoli added notes of citrus, soy and chili paste.
Another appetizer that seemed to be showing up on a lot of tables was the Truffle Fries. These also came on a platter so several guests could share it. A big pile of handcut fries was cooked to a nice crispy exterior. They were mixed with a sauce that combined truffle oil and melted Havarti cheese into a creamy coating for the fries when were then served with chopped fresh green onions. They were really delicious with the slight earthiness of the sauce and kick of the sweet onions. Because of the mild topping, the fries would also go well with several other of the Eureka! appetizers such as wings, steamer clams and white fish tacos.
Eureka!'s chef has created a line of beef burgers made with 100% vegetarian fed, hormone and antibiotic free beef. All the burgers are hand-packed at the restaurant. The burgers are available with some unique flavor combinations. A Jalapeño Egg Burger adds some interesting elements to the basic burger, while the Pearl Street Blues burger adds melted blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions to the sandwich.The Cowboy Burger tops the beef patty with shoestring onion rings, cheddar cheese and nice slices of bacon. There are choices that are not beef-based also. A Catalina Bison Burger was a nice, lower fat and cholesterol alternative.
A good vegetarian choice is the Veggie Beet Burger. The homemade patty is a blend of red beets and beans, yielding a patty that has a nice bite to it. Grill marks on the patty added a perfect amount of char to this burger. The first bite of it provided a delicious, slightly sweet flavor with good texture. Normal toppings of tomato and red onion went along with some delicious zucchini pickles and peppery arugula tossed in a very light lemon vinaigrette. The house Kennebec fries accompanied the unique healthful alternative.
On of the most interesting burgers that is on the Eureka! Menu is the Fresno Fig Burger. When it came to the table, it was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. The grill cooks certainly know what they are doing, since at many places medium the doneness can be all over the temperature range.
A melted goat cheese, some beautiful slices of bacon and the topping finished the burger off. On the upper half of the toasted bun, a nice layer of homemade fig marmalade covered it. No need for other condiments on this burger!
The taste was superb, with the nice beefy burger complemented by crisp peppery arugula and the slightly sweet fig marmalade. It was a tasty burger and went well with the Honey Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries. Again, restraint seems to be the word in Eureka!'s kitchen, as the honey and sweet potatoes together were not overly sweet. Zach said, “This is my favorite burger. Tangy goat cheese, salty bacon, spicy mustard, and sweet fig marmalade, it all comes together. It's a really great burger, very well rounded, a well thought out recipe”'.
Entrees at Eureka! Include salmon, crab cakes, braised short ribs, a grilled Portabello or Angus Hangar steak and a pulled pork sandwich. Chicken is available either as Fried Chicken sliders, sautéed chicken Saltimbocca, a grilled sandwich or as one of the many entree salads such as Cobb or Strawberry Salad. One of their signature entrees is a Beer Braised duck and with the description it had in the menu, for a duck lover this was an easy choice. The duck sausage, infused with bacon, was charbroiled nicely before being braised in a stock of beer and orange juice. Caramelized onions, porter mustard and cheddar cheese topped off the sandwich after it was placed on a brioche bun. For the final touch, a corn relish was put over the sausage, adding nice texture to the dish. The casing had that nice snap to it and the caramelized onions were extremely sweet and well-flavored.
The signature handcut fries were great on the side, although they can be substituted at a slight charge by other items. Some guests chose the Panko Breaded Onion Rings and were amazed by the size of these rings, easily twice the thickness of most others. The panko breadcrumbs made a nice coating on the onion rings which were so freshly cooked that they steamed when first cut into.
There is only a small choice of desserts at Eureka! but there is a lot of flavor packed into those choices. The Chocolate Espresso Soufflé coffee cup cake seems like it would have enough to satisfy the most devoted chocoholic. The Goldengate Butterscotch Rum Pudding is much the opposite, rich, but with subtle flavors topped off by homemade whipped cream and a nice sprig of fresh ment. The pudding was very satisfying and proved to be the perfect finale to the meal. It was one of those dishes that you;ll scrape the bowl to get every bit of goodness out.
No trip to Eureka! Is complete without a stop at the Bottle Shop. This is one of Eureka!'s unique concepts. Zach said, “It is the only one of our twelve locations that has the Bottle Shop. Not only does it allow people to buy bottles of wine, whiskey or beer to enjoy in the restaurant, but the wine and beer is available for sale to take home. Guests are encouraged to buy the bottles to enjoy while they are waiting for a table or during dinner. Our main target is for people walking through the mall or in the residences, allowing then to buy the bottles at competitive retail pricing, not restaurant pricing.” It is a great way to be able to taste some fine beverages. Eureka! even has tasting samplers such as a four whiskey sampler to help you see the differences. “The samplers are awesome, a really great way to explore your way around and expand your palate”. Zach said.
“We take great, great pride in the way that we cook our food here. It's all made with care. One of our biggest mottos here is 'each plate for each guest'. Even though we are making from six to eight hunred burgers on a busy night, we are focusing on each one to make sure they come out right. If a guest wants medium rare, they get medium rare!”. Zach and the staff at Eureka! American Craft Grill certainly have the right attitude to make dining at Eureka! a delicious pleasure.
Eureka! American Craft Grill
7631 Edinger Avenue
California 92647 (at Bella Terra outdoor shopping center)
Ph: (714) 230-3955
Hours are from 11 a.m. to midnight daily. Live music is available on Thursdays from 8pm.