• Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Bootlegger’s and Seabirds

    August 20th, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, seabirds

    Do you remember the moment in The Wizard Of Oz where the celluloid goes from monochrome to color? Well, I had a similar experience last week when I drove alongside a dusty railroad track to a barren industrial park on the outskirts of downtown Fullerton, Orange County. The monochromatic middle-American dustbowl view turned into vibrant color as I stepped inside our destination: Bootlegger’s Brewery.

    Suddenly I was surrounded by brew kettles, mash tuns, piles of kegs and a makeshift “tap room” (which was actually a corner of the brewery itself).

    What’s more, as I looked back out toward the parking lot, I could see Seabirds, California’s only entirely vegan food truck, pulling up and getting ready to serve food.

    Now, many of us have been to plush beer bars with comfortable seating and a vast array of beer on tap. Some of us have also been to tap houses: usually less comfortable and with a much smaller choice, but the beer is fresh from the brewery which means it’s as good as you can get. The experience at Bootlegger’s is a little different as you’re actually sitting right inside a working brewery, and the beers are served to you directly from the kegs that have been filled and aged by the brewing team.

    While we waited for Seabirds to set up, we enjoyed a few pints of the outstanding “Old World Hefe”, a traditionally brewed unfiltered ale that was extremely drinkable (some might say, TOO drinkable!). We also enjoyed the “Palomino Pale Ale” which was served via a contraption called a “Hopinator”, a sort-of glass tank containing fresh hops under a little pressure. The beer flows over the hops right before it gets served and they impart a fresh, floral flavor that is to die for. In fact, Bootlegger’s chose Citra hops, a relatively recent American hop strain that’s finding its way into more and more beer varieties.

    At Bootlegger’s, your beer is served from glass preserve jars rather than glasses, and you sit (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) on plastic lawn chairs either inside the brewhouse or outside in the parking lot. Urban chic it isn’t, but if you care about being in a place with friendly people, great beer and awesome food you will find few places better in Orange County, or anywhere else. Talking of food, we managed to tear ourselves away from drinking to step outside and grab a bite from Seabirds truck, which was open for business just outside the brewhouse.

    Organic Veggie Burrito Bowl: Grilled organic veggies from Tanaka Farm, organic beans, organic brown rice, guacamole, and red or green salsa. $7

    I regularly run into food trucks at various events, and it’s surprising how many of them are quite vegan friendly. As Seabirds is entirely plant-based, though, everything on the menu is up for grabs, and we wasted no time in availing ourselves of a few dishes. First up was a Veggie Burrito in a bowl (kindly made in advance for us with no bell peppers) which was a deceptively tasty collection of chopped vegetables, beans, rice and a tangy salsa/guacamole combination. It was truly remarkable, so fresh and healthy tasting yet full of flavor. I’d certainly have that again, and I bet the burrito is even better.

    Seabirds Burger: Our homemade nut & seed patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and seabird sauce. $5

    Next up we were drawn to the Seabird burger, as they proudly proclaim the patty is “home made”. I’m a sucker for home made burger patties as so many places use off-the shelf burgers (at worst Boca, at best Gardein). Not Seabirds! Their burger was perfectly prepared with just the right amount of ingredients – a nut/seed patty with crunchy onion, tomato and fresh lettuce on top of a tangy sauce (also home made) in a wholewheat bun. There’s something about fresh farm-produced organic ingredients that are carefully prepared – they taste SO DAMN GOOD! You can pig out without feeling bloated, and that’s exactly what happened here.

    Hummus and Pita

    Feeling the need to be bloated, though, we also ordered a side of hummus and pita bread and were delighted with its freshness and taste. I sometimes forget how awesome something so simple can be, and Seabirds really delivered a super-creamy hummus that wasn’t too oily. Oh yum.

    We planned to eat some more food, but were just too full. Next time we’re going to go all-out for some of the more exotic dishes like the Beer Battered Avocado Taco, Jerk Jackfruit Taco and the “Bella” – grilled portabella mushroom and pesto sandwich. Oh and for those with a sweet tooth, Seabirds also offers dessert – delicious vegan cupcakes by Luscious Organics.

    Not only is the food stunningly good, but the crew at Seabirds are so pleasant, polite and nice that I felt like picking each one up and hugging them. I tend to do that when I’m drunk, though, so don’t read too much into it.

    I really wish Seabirds would put some extra miles on that spiffy truck and go a few miles further up I5 to LA for some of our events closer to home. The good news, though, is that even if Seabirds can’t come home with you a growler full of fresh Bootlegger’s brew can. 🙂

    As we headed away from Bootleggers, along the dusty railroad line to our car, I took one last look back toward the brewery and food truck and was again reminded of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and the gang look down at The Emerald City in the distance – a tempting vista of wonder ahead. As we headed away back to LA things turned into black and white again, but I’m sure that was the pints of Palomino finally taking control of my consciousness.

    Bootlegger’s Brewery
    401 S Richman Ave
    Fullerton, CA 92832
    Thur and Fri 4pm – 9pm, Sat 2pm – 9pm

    Seabirds Truck
    Follow them on Twitter or check their schedule for location.

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