To complement executive chef Manfred Lassahn’s culinary specialty of “essential pairings,” the décor of Watertable in the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa follows the theme by juxtaposing rustic with modern touches. Photography by Don Riddle
There are several unique things about Watertable restaurant, which took the place of the AAA 5-Diamond Hyatt Regency Hunt-ington Beach Resort & Spa’s Californian restaurant last summer. The architecture – described by some food critics as “a sprawling mansion” and “hacienda-style” – is just as remarkable as the cuisine that’s served.
Located on the site of the 2015 American Lighting Association (ALA) Conference, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach’s Watertable restaurant is comprised of several dining rooms featuring hand-painted tiles, private alcoves, decorative arches, a library lounge, a living room setting complete with a fireplace, a chef’s table, a gastro pantry and bar, an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean, and a Family Kitchen with an active station for cooking demos and private events.
From a culinary standpoint, the Watertable promises “comfort food with attitude” that utilizes local produce. It’s contemporary American food paired with regional wines, inventive cocktails, and beer-tails. The menu changes seasonally, but mainstays include the Southern Supper Sundays (served family-style on communal tables) and the bar’s eclectic $5 “Bar Jars” featuring pâté, cheeses, and pickled delicacies in the library lounge.
Long-time Hyatt Regency chef Manfred Lassahn wanted the restaurant to resemble rustic residential spaces such as a cozy library bar, Sofia’s dining room (named for the woman in the painting on its back wall), a living room, and communal tables that have diners eating family-style.
However, no feature is as distinctive as its namesake: a ceiling-to-table watertable system that allows the wait staff to deliver water to their customers’ tables that is infused with herbs, spices, syrups, and rums (the exact varieties change often). The water runs via overhead pipes to a tap on a walnut table in the middle of the restaurant.
The Moorish architecture – distinguished by a series of delicate archways – adds to the aesthetic appeal. Watertable also has its own outside entrance, allowing patrons who are not staying at the hotel to feel comfortable dining there.
Senior Designer Shawna Jacoby of EDG Interior Architecture & Design, which handled the project, selected California-based lighting manufacturer Hammerton to hand-craft the lighting fixtures and table lamps in the restaurant as well as the buffet fixture (with retractable sneeze guard), plus the table and floor lamps throughout the hotel lobby. The lighting was accomplished in a combination of steel mesh, 12-gauge steel, clear acrylic, optical glass, and custom linen shades.
“EDG wanted Watertable to feel like an old hacienda with many different rooms and experiences for the guests,” states Levi Wilson, Hammerton’s Vice President of Design. “The spaces contain a blend of old and new: things that had been collected over time. The decorative lighting concepts were eclectic, but clean and contemporary, warm and inviting, to contrast the Spanish-style shell. Shawna provided us with an initial set of design concepts, and we went to work!”
Engineering the retractable sneeze guard that doubled as a chandelier was a bit of a challenge for the crew at Hammerton, but this custom lighting manufacturer has dealt with similar challenges before.
Overall, the Hammerton design team felt the diverse selection of lighting fixtures supported the project’s aesthetic objectives, while the quality of the materials, craftsmanship, and attention to detail was exceptional.