BALEEN Kitchen Reveals New Interior, Cocktails, and More

During a recent visit to BALEEN Kitchen in Redondo Beach, I wondered “I’ve been here before.  It looks familiar…but it’s different…in a good way”.  Turns out, the restaurant that I thought I knew all about had gone through a long renovation and exited on the other side with something old and something new.

A few things had stayed the same though: wonderful views with excellent food and beverages.

A Decked Out Dining Room

The dining room, bar, and patio areas of BALEEN Kitchen have been completely redone with a light, airy, nautical theme.  With sunlight coming in through the large windows, the dining room is cheery and welcoming.

Looking across the dining room towards the Portofino Hotel.

A fireplace brings a romantic charm to the dining room.

Another view of the dining room.

The bar area is equally cozy with updated furniture.

The west side of BALEEN is just a few feet from The King Harbor Marina offering interesting views from most of the tables in the dining room.  During my visit, I was able to catch a glimpse of a gondola ferrying a couple on a romantic ride through the marina’s canals.

A gondola slowly making its way through the King Harbor Marina.

With the renovation, BALEEN has put some polish on the updated interior, lending a new appeal to a location that’s always been uniquely South Bay.

But you can’t eat decor and scenic views!  Let’s talk about the food and beverage.

Drinks Made for the Movies

With the relaunch, BALEEN’s signature cocktail menu was themed to honor movies that were filmed in Redondo Beach including Cannon Ball Run, Dazed and Confused, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Representing 1990’s Men at Work, the Better in Thyme is a cocktail with complex flavors brought on by a lovely mix of herbs and spices.  The piney Bombay Sapphire gin and thyme-infused Cointreau provide a savory,  pleasantly medicinal base that lingers with the essence of ginger, coriander, lemongrass, and basil.

The Butterfly Room — in this case, the name of the movie and the cocktail — reads and tastes much like pina colada: Hanava Club rum mixed with lime juice, pineapple, coconut oil, and Falernum bitters.  But the finish is more smooth and refined than a sugary, tropical drink.  Rum drinkers will enjoy the diversion and can alway ask for a dash of simple syrup if more sweetness is needed.

In the foreground, the Butterfly Room rum punch. In the background, a dose of Better in Thyme.

Tequila drinkers will feel like sailing the Seven Seas after a sip of the Black Pearl, named for the ship sailed by the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Carribean films.  The Pearl made a stop in King Harbor during the filming of the movie in 2007.

Made with Don Julio añejo tequila and Grand Marnier, and then elevated with espresso and vanilla liqueur, the coffee and citrus notes had me feeling like I was sipping a breakfast in a cocktail.  I could totally see having pitchers of this one for brunch!

The Black Pearl has a touch of fresh espresso that makes for a cocktail inspired by breakfast.

Appetizers and Charcuterie

Sadly we can’t live on liquor alone so let’s move on to appetizers.  The “tapas” section of the menu has a short but varied list to choose from including an Ahi Tuna Taco, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Crispy Calamari.

Anytime I see duck though, I’m drawn to try it especially if the presentation is atypical.  In particular are BALEEN’s Duck Carnitas.  Roasted duck is served with cornmeal crepes, chipotle seasoned blackberries, and an apple slaw.  Each of the flavors and textures complimented each other with a bite sized portion of the duck and the fruits wrapped in the crepe.

Each of the flavors and textures complimented each other with a bite sized portion of the duck and the fruits wrapped in the crepe:  Tender, saucy duck with a strong poultry flavor, subtle corn from the delicate crepe, a crisp tartness from the apple, and a touch of sweetness and spice from the chipotle blackberry.

Duck carnitas on a cornmeal crepe with apple slaw and chipotle blackberry.

Duck carnitas.

BALEEN also serves a lovely charcuterie and cheese plate with a variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, pickles, and olives, served with a grilled crostini and fig jam.  If you’re into figs, ask for an extra bit of jam; there’s probably enough on the plate to go around but you’ll be glad you asked for more as you go back and add a dab of it to everything again and again.

Entrees and Desserts

With changes in decor and cocktails, BALEEN stays true to “Coastal California” cuisine for entrees, with ingredients sourced from local suppliers.

The “Land & Sea” portion of the dinner menu puts the focus on surf and turf with a few selections each of seafood and beef, rounded out by a brick chicken.

The miso-glazed salmon is classic BALEEN with a perfectly tender salmon served on a bed of sweet potatoes and string beans.  The steak was expertly cooked as well.  Selected from the “Simply Grilled” portion of the menu, the hanger steak was served with a chimichurri sauce with bright hints of balsamic vinegar.  Other sauce options included a house made steak sauce and a caper remoulade.

Miso glazed salmon and vegetables. The sweet potatoes were actually sweet with a dash of salt.

The hanger steak served with chimichurri sauce and parmesan truffle fries.

But if you haven’t had dessert, you haven’t really eaten and BALEEN’s key lime pie was like an exclamation point at the end of a fine meal.  The filling was creamy and accurately colored: a pale, golden yellow.  The crust was thin and crispy and the pie was topped with a puffy dollop of whipped cream.  If you’re familiar with my author bio, you know I’m a sucker for key lime pie and this one was a very well made pie indeed.

Go to BALEEN Kitchen on Purpose

There are so many reasons to get to BALEEN:  the great food, the scenery, the key lime pie!  The most important thing is to just go.  Since it’s also the restaurant at the Portofino Hotel, BALEEN is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just about every day of the week.

They also have a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 PM.  There’s also Sunday brunch from 7 AM until 4 PM and live entertainment in the bar area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Whatever the time or the occasion, the revamped BALEEN will be ready for you.

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About the Author

Michael loves grilling, rum, and has a weakness for key lime pie.

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