District at Tustin
2409 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782
Phone 714 258 3474
District at Tustin
2409 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782
Phone 714 258 3474
Mon - Thu 11:00am - 10:00pm
Fri - Sat 11:00am - 11:00pm
Sun 11:00am - 9:30pm
Mon - Sat 3:30pm - 6:30pm
Mon - Thu 9:00pm - Close
"Bluewater Grill is the perfect spot for a casual afternoon or evening combined with a trip to the beach, a stroll along the boardwalk, or a day out shopping." Buzz of LA
TUSTIN, Calif. (April 28, 2008)
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 opens a 7,250-square-foot restaurant today 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 fisherman – 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.
As part of this long-term expansion vision, Bluewater Grill also recently upgraded the Newport and Redondo locations, including remodeling the Redondo bar, and outfitting both restaurants with new furniture, china and interior appointments. Ulcickas says that, despite the changes, he and his team were careful to preserve the authentic “premium fish house” feel that Bluewater Grill regulars at both locations have come to expect. The team also introduced a new “Small Plate” menu, and expanded the Bluewater Grill calendar of regional seafood events, wine and oyster tastings at all three restaurants.
“In the end, Bluewater Grill is all about the quality of our seafood – so as long as we’re able to maintain the same relationships with our fishermen, and the same strict controls that insure the everyday integrity of the food we serve, we can expand beyond the coast,” he explained. “It is also important to us that, regardless of the location, Bluewater Grill be casual, fun, owner-operated, committed to legendary hospitality and connected to its communities.”
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. Integral to the design of the restaurant is a large, open dining room in tones of chocolate, taupe, rust, orange and red, and punctuated by deep red leather booths. To subtly connect guests to the ocean, Bitton crowned the room with a dramatic, ship-inspired barrel ceiling adorned with floating chrome sculptures of fish gliding gracefully between forests of kelp.
Beyond the main dining room is a smaller raised room that incorporates deeply sculptured wood walls and silk-wrapped light fixtures to offer a distinctively club-like feel. This room was specifically designed to offer a more intimate dining experience, and can be closed off for private groups and events. Equally impressive is Tustin’s rectangular island bar, boasting rainforest brown granite counters and chandeliers made with antique glass fishing floats, as well as spacious proportions that cater to both diners and the before- and after-movie crowd looking for a quick drink, appetizer or visit to the Shellfish Bar instead of a full meal. An outside patio with fireplace allows diners to soak up The District’s village-like atmosphere.
“While the goal was to give Tustin a fresh interpretation of the seafood dining experience in a more urban setting, we knew we wanted to pay homage to the spirit of the original, dockside locations,” explains Bitton. “Bluewater Grill regulars will be happy to know that the signature black-and-white fishing photos that adorn the walls in Newport and Redondo have been incorporated in Tustin, too – but in the form of etched glass panels above the display kitchen.” Bitton also pays homage to Orange County favorite son John Wayne and other famous local fisherman on the signature wine display wall in the rear of the bar. Here, in a picture given to Bluewater Grill by the daughter of Wayne’s legendary Hollywood agent Boo Roos, the Duke poses with two prized Striped Marlin.
The Tustin Bluewater Grill seats 280, which is similar in size to the Redondo restaurant and slightly larger than the Newport Beach location. Chris Rock is the managing partner. The restaurant officially opened to the public on April 28, 2008, following a week of grand opening festivities including preview events for existing customers, the media and local VIPs.
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.
Established in Newport Beach, Calif., in 1996, Bluewater Grill is founded on the rich history and traditions of local fishing forefathers, with a philosophy of working with local fisherman to source the globe for the highest-quality seafood in peak season. The restaurant works with renewable, sustainable fisheries to make sure it doesn’t take more from nature than nature can handle.
Owner-operated since its inception, Bluewater Grill prints its lunch and dinner menus fresh daily, offering more than 40 varieties of seafood annually. With a shellfish bar, kid’s menu, patio dining, full bar and great wine list, Bluewater Grill has made its mission to provide guests with the highest-quality seafood, classically prepared, at a fair price, in a friendly, casual atmosphere.
In addition to the original location in Newport’s Cannery Village, there are Bluewater Grills at King Harbor in Redondo Beach and at The District at Tustin Legacy, which opened April 28, 2008, in central Orange County.