Whipping up California-fresh meals at the aptly named seafront restaurant Waterline, located in Balboa Bay Resort, chef Rachel Haggstrom has a knack for creating inventive dishes with seasonal ingredients in her signature farm-to-table style. Here, she dishes to bask about her favorite meal of the day and how she wants to both surprise and soothe diners.
How does Waterline’s California location influence your culinary choices?
Fortunately, California provides a wide variety of things to work with. We use a lot of nuts, citrus, avocados, strawberries, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables that are staples in California cuisine. Waterline also fits nicely with California cuisine, as it is light and fresh by nature, which suites the oceanfront seafood restaurant well.
What experience do you want diners to have at Waterline?
I hope that guests leave here feeling spoiled and well taken care of. I hope they feel even surprised at having such a wonderful experience in Waterline. Waterline is not just a hotel restaurant; it’s a calm and refreshing environment on the water that I find soothing. I hope that when guests experience the food they are visually intrigued and find complete satisfaction and even elements of surprise in the tastes and textures. I even want them to be surprised by having such a wonderful experience in a hotel and leave planning their next visit to us.
What’s your favorite item on the menu?
Right now, it’s the John Dory [oyster tartar, crispy salsify, creamy cauliflower, winter truffle, white wine butter sauce].
How did farm-to-table become your signature style, and what appeals to you about it?
Eating from the garden is how I grew up; I didn’t know any different until I was older and moved out.
What’s your favorite meal when you’re not the one cooking?
It doesn’t matter what it is, anything that someone else makes for me that comes from the heart.
What are you most proud of in Waterline’s development in the years you’ve been there?
My staff. The cooks have really blossomed and grown together as a team. Seeing them develop their skills and get excited about new dishes is very fulfilling.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future at Waterline?
A waiting list for reservations.
How often do you change the menu, and what influences new items?
We change the menu quarterly with the seasons, with a few tweaks along the way. Influences come from a variety of factors, an ingredient or a technique, mood.
Who or what do you draw culinary inspiration from?
It comes from everywhere; you never know what will happen or what memory will inspire you.
If you had to pick breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, which is your favorite and why?
I have learned to love cooking breakfast on the line; it’s fast and fun. Desserts I have always enjoyed (because I like to eat them), but now dessert allows me another avenue for creativity. But dinner is where my passion lies and in it I find true fulfillment.
What’s the greatest challenge you face at Waterline?
Getting the word out that Waterline is open to the public. There is still a misconception that we are a part of the Balboa Bay Club or members only; we welcome everyone at Waterline.
What do you think is the most exciting new culinary trend?
Instagram and digital marketing.
WATERLINE 1221 West Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92663 ~ 949.645.5000 | MeritageCollection.com