Arts & Leisure

Chowlines: Steel-ing the hearts of foodies

WAFFLE LOVE is one of 10 eateries and bars in the Steelcraft project in Long Beach. A similar, larger project is planned for Euclid Street in Garden Grove for 2018 (Orange County Tribune photo)

By Jim and Marilyn Tortolano

To paraphrase the famous reformer and quote-maker Lincoln Steffens, we have seen the future and it not only works, it rocks. No, we’re not talking about the now-defunct Soviet Union – as the misguided Steffens did – but the Steelcraft urban eatery in Long Beach.

Normally, we don’t stray too far from the Tribune’s coverage area of Garden Grove, Huntington Beach and Westminster – with an occasional side trip to Anaheim, which we consider “honorary Garden Grove.” But since Steelcraft is planning on bringing its unique brand of pre-fab and hip food to the Big Strawberry, we thought we’d fly up the San Diego Freeway, hop off at Bixby Knolls and see what we’re in for.

THE RED WONDER was “truly incredible” at Waffle Love (Orange County Tribune photo).

As you may have read in the Trib, the highly original Steelcraft project with 10 restaurants and bars is made up out of retired steel containers. The Long Beach location includes a waffle house, a craft beer bar, a pizzeria, a gourmet hamburger purveyor and other foodie delights. All the “joints” are walk-up, with several communal outdoor seating areas.

There was no way we were going to sample all nine places – the 10th, Pizzeria Dal Desano, is closed on Mondays – so we decided to settle on Waffle Love as an introduction to the Steelcraft brand.

Simply put, the food was great. Marilyn had The Red Wonder, which includes biscoff (a cinnamon dusting), strawberries, raspberries and cream and pronounced it “truly incredible.” Jim went wider and ordered the chicken and waffle dish. The chicken tenders on top were – hate to repeat ourselves, but – incredibly good. The chicken was tender and juicy and the outside flavorful but not too spicy.

DON’T be chicken to try this poultry and waffle dish (OC Tribune photo).

We dined at one of the outdoor areas, which we shared with a nice variety of folks, who ranged from families to senior citizens to hipsters. All ages and ethnicities were represented, and the “campus” of the project was clean, well-organized and, well, fun. We spoke to worker bees at the Waffle Love and the Smog City bar, and they were enthusiastic about their jobs and the possibility of opening just such a sister site in Orange County.

The Steelcraft/Garden Grove project will be bigger than its Long Beach sibling, and is set to open about a year from now on the vacant Euclid Street site once occupied by the Black Angus restaurant.

If the food quality and fun ambiance we experienced on Monday is any indicator, downtown Garden Grove is in for a jolt of cutting edge chow.

Do you have an eatery serving the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area that deserves a look in this column? Let us know by sending an e-mail to orangecountytribune@gmail.com .

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