February 26th, 2012, 4:29 pm · · posted by GUEST
Three years ago, Buckingham Palace (no relation whatsoever to the palace in England) gave way to Sunsets, a beach bar with a distinction. It has the relaxed atmosphere of a dive bar, but the quality of food and service you’d normally find in a much classier establishment.
Yes, there is a pool table and two dart boards. Yes, there are popular beers on tap. And yes, there are eight big-screen TVs for watching sports. But there is live music five nights a week, Panko-crusted asparagus spears on the appetizer menu and refrigerator-chilled martini glasses. If you’re not a martini drinker, you’ll never understand how much better it is to have a bar store its martini glasses in a cooler, and not just chill the glass on the bar top by filling it with ice and water.
The bar, which sits on Pacific Coast Highway directly across from Doheny State Beach, will take another step up (literally) when it opens a rooftop bar on top of the building.
“We’re trying to fill a void in this area,” explained co-owner Damian Collins. “Around here, you have either dive bars or upscale hotel bars like the Ritz Carlton and the Montage. We want to be like those lobby bars in Hawaii that are nice, but you can walk in right from the beach.”
In fact, Sunsets has a Hawaiian look, and its “health conscious” menu draws heavily from the islands. While Sunsets doesn’t have its own kitchen, the food is supplied by The Grille, a restaurant two doors down from the bar. The restaurant, which is run by Orange County restaurant veteran Ken Moon, is open to the public during the tourist season, but during the winter, caters private events and feeds Sunsets’ patrons.
Collins and Moon recently opened a second Sunsets in San Clemente, and plan to open a third bar and restaurant called Stillwater in Dana Point.
The Capistrano Beach bar offers happy hour Monday-Friday, from 5-7 p.m., with discounts on selected drinks and appetizers.
Photos and article by Barry Koltnow, the Orange County Register.
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