TUSTIN, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Making good on its promise to bring its premiere fresh seafood concept to Southern Californians that don’t happen to live at the beach, Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant has opened a 7,250-square-foot restaurant at The District at Tustin Legacy, the destination lifestyle dining, shopping and entertainment center that debuted in summer 2007 in central Orange County.
Beyond its distinction as the third restaurant in the Bluewater Grill family, following the original in Newport Beach’s Cannery Village in 1996 and a second at King Harbor in Redondo Beach in 2001, the new Tustin facility has been intentionally designed as a more stylized prototype for possible future Southern California locations. The striking “high style meets the beach” design theme represents a dramatic departure from the look and feel of the Newport and Redondo waterfront restaurants yet retains enough of the spirit of the original to make it an authentic Bluewater Grill.
“We’ve created a more aggressive design that not only reflects the more urban demographics of The District and central Orange County but respects our roots and traditions, and works in other non-coastal cities we’re considering for Bluewater Grill,” explained Jimmy Ulcickas, co-founder. “This is the first Bluewater Grill we’ve been able to design from the ground up, so we had the luxury of being intentional with every element. Of course, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to serving guests the highest-quality seafood, classically prepared, at a fair price and in a friendly, casual atmosphere.”
Like its Newport and Redondo counterparts, the Tustin restaurant adheres to a number of time-honored Bluewater Grill traditions: print new lunch and dinner menus daily featuring up to 40 varieties of fresh seafood; make all of its chowders, soups, dressings and sauces from scratch in an open display kitchen; hand-shuck every oyster and clam to order; serve only fresh San Francisco Sourdough® bread; and tap eight draft beers using a state-of-the-art draft beer system that delivers 32-degree beer directly at the tap handle. Collectively the three Bluewater Grill restaurants purchase more than $3 million in seafood annually directly and indirectly from fishermen – a sheer quantity guaranteeing that Ulcickas and partners Richard Staunton and Robert Hyman continually receive the very best quality. In fact, the three take pride in their close relationships with their seafood vendors – from their harpooned swordfish supplier aboard the Captain Hook to their local lobster fisherman in Redondo Beach to their shellfish growers in Washington’s Puget Sound.
Reflecting the global reach of Bluewater Grill’s suppliers, the Tustin Bluewater Grill serves such daily fresh fish as Mississippi Catfish, Idaho Rainbow Trout, Australian Barramundi, King Salmon from British Columbia, Ahi Tuna from Fiji, Alaskan Halibut, Golden Tilapia from Costa Rica and local Red Snapper and Broadbill Swordfish (seasonal availability varies). Other menu highlights range from Eureka Sanddabs, Mahi Mahi and Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops to San Francisco Cioppino, an Ahi Tuna Burger, signature Bluewater Fish Tacos and premium shellfish including Australian Lobster Tail and Alaskan King Crab. Free-range Chicken, Rib Eye Steak Filet and a Frenched Pork “Rib” Chop cater to the non-seafood lover.
The modern new restaurant has also given Executive Chef Brian Hirsty the opportunity to experiment with a number of new specialty dishes, including Crispy Skin Barramundi with fennel and olive reduction; Alaskan Halibut with a yam-tempura crust, sweet chili glaze and glass noodle salad; and a “Small Plate” menu listing sliders, oyster shooters with Absolut® Pepper vodka, and Salt and Pepper Shrimp.
Tustin’s circular Live Seafood Bar – situated at the front of the restaurant – boasts a constantly changing menu of oysters grown and harvested exclusively for Bluewater Grill and served on the half-shell, plus Sashimi, an “Ichiban” of Seared Ahi Tuna, Oysters Rockefeller, Mussels and Clams. Also featured on the menu are appetizers, including Smoked Albacore and Salmon, Crabcakes, Calamari Fritti; entrée seafood salads; Bluewater Grill’s signature Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque, a kid’s menu; specialty desserts; a full bar and extensive wine list, including California and French varietals by the bottle and glass.
When it came time to design the Tustin location, Ulcickas says the destination nature of Bluewater Grill – specifically the fact that many of his most loyal customers don’t live in Newport or Redondo – prompted the management team to consider taking the concept to non-waterfront locales like The District that offer a strong retail and restaurant mix. Other areas being studied for a Bluewater Grill include Pasadena, south Orange County, Woodland Hills and Santa Barbara. A Bluewater Grill operated in South Coast Village in Santa Ana for several years, and closed in 2007.
For Tustin, that local integrity means a design theme by Bitton Design Group of Agoura Hills that is noticeably more cosmopolitan – the partners call it more “current” – than the Newport and Redondo locations. Lead designer Eddy Bitton set out to take Bluewater Grill Tustin beyond the one-dimensional nautical look of traditional seafood restaurants to create a richer, more stylish environment consistent with the urban, entertainment-driven focus of The District – “high-style on the high seas” he calls it.
The restaurant is now open daily for lunch and dinner. Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The address is 2409 Park Avenue at The District at Tustin Legacy. Complimentary valet and self parking are available. The phone number is 714-258-3474. Reservations are encouraged. Chris Rock is the managing partner.