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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brunch @ Baleen in LA

This past weekend we went to LA for a wedding. Before all the wedding festivities, we went to Redondo Beach with 2 of my friends Saturday morning to do some beach side bike riding and brunch. :) The weather was beautiful and great for riding.

We went to Baleen at The Portofino Hotel for brunch because we all bought a Travelzoo deal. It was $45 for 2 people to have a 3 course brunch with unlimited mimosas or champagne. Amazing deal!! Unlimited mimosas?!?

Baleen @ The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club
260 Portofino Way
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 372-1202

After riding we arrived at the hotel like 20 minutes earlier than our reservation but were seated immediately. The hostess was super nice. We were seated upstairs by the window and it overlooks the dock with all the sailboats. It was so nice and bright by the water...perfect for brunch!

Everyone got a mimosa except me. I opted for orange juice which were freshly squeezed and so refreshing! I don't like champagne so I don't care for mimosas. The orange juice was sooo fresh and yummy!

First Course --
I got the Strawberry & Yogurt Parfait (honey, lemon & granola).
It was a nice portion..full of toasted granola and fresh strawberries. The yogurt itself wasn't very sweet so the honey and granola added just enough sweetness to the dish. I really liked the pumpkin seeds in the granola as well. It was fresh and actually quite filling!

Crisp Calamari (lemon, smoky cocktail & tartar).
The presentation was really cute with the mini fryer basket. The calamari was fried well and had good flavor. It was pretty standard.

Smoked Salmon (crostini, Boursin, tomato, red onion & caper).
My friend thought this was amazing. The salmon was smokey and paired well with the cheese and crostini. It was definitely the best deal out of the starters. I'm not a fan of smoked salmon but my friend said it was really great. The Boursin cheese however, was phenomenal. I've never had this cheese before, and I'm not big on eating cheese on its own but I can eat spoonfuls of this on its own. It was creamy and milky and divine. I will definitely go get some of this cheese next time I go to a dinner party or something.

Main Course --
Fish Tacos (seared Snapper, cabbage slaw, avocado, Pico de Gallo, cilantro).
You get 3 tacos on corn tortilla. I only tried a bite of the fish which was cooked nicely. My friend liked it a lot.

Steak Frites (hanger steak, fries, arugula salad & housemade steak sauce).
This is what I got. It was a huge plate! I don't usually eat this much food for lunch! I ordered it medium rare but I think because it was so thin, it was a bit more cooked through than medium rare. But the flavor was great. It was definitely seasoned well. One of my friends ordered this as well. He ordered the steak medium but it was definitely overcooked...kinda dry. He still liked the flavors though. And neither of us cared too much for the steak sauce.

Huevos Redondos (black bean quesadilla, fried eggs, avocado, romesco, feta, cilantro).
My bf ordered this. I really liked it which was surprising because it was corn tortillas layered in there. I don't like corn tortillas at all and this was the first time I didn't mind it being in a dish! The combination of the beans, tortilla, avocado and sauce was great. YUM!! Without meat, it was still a very hearty dish.

Sweet (to share) --
One dessert is shared between 2 people and there were only 2 choices on the menu so we got one of each.

Chocolate Macadamia Torte (chiantilly cream & raspberries).
I really enjoyed the dark chocolate sauce on the plate, not too sweet and quite decadent. The chiantilly cream was also great on the torte. The torte itself was good but I wanted it to be a bit more fudgy. There was too much chopped nuts in there for me.

Lemon Meringue Pie (white chocolate anglaise).
I saw on online reviews that this was the dessert everyone raved about. I don't care for lemon desserts but this was awesome. I definitely preferred it over the chocolate torte which was surprising. First of all, the presentation was adorable and clean. I loved the torched little dome of meringue on top of the pie. And I really liked the fact that it was a mini pie, not a slice cut from a bigger pie. The meringue was fluffy and not too sweet. The lemon pie was velvety and fantastic. Just the perfect amount of sweet and tart. The white chocolate anglaise on the plate was a nice additional flavor to it all. I would sooo have this dessert again. I was already so full but I ate most of this myself! :p

I had read iffy reviews on Baleen about the quality of their food and service so I was a bit nervous since we already purchased the coupon. But I don't know what those people are talking about. We had a fantastic time! The hostess and waiters/waitresses were all super nice and accommodating. The food overall was very enjoyable with some hints of greatness (like the lemon meringue pie) hehe. The Travelzoo deal was amazing! And we definitely got our money's worth and MORE! Between my bf and 2 other friends, I think they had 20 glasses of mimosas or more... Hahaha! OMG!

It was a beautiful relaxing day to hangout with my friends and enjoy some good food. That's how vacation should be!! I would recommend Baleen for a relaxing brunch any time. :)

Quality of Food:
Value (with coupon):

Overall Experience:


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