For Chef Blake Mellgren of Craft House, That’s Just How the Biscuit Crumbles
Written By: Deanna Nguyen
Photographed By: Rod Foster
Photography Assistant: David Nardini
Food Stylist: Aci Landa Spicy Chicken Sandwich
There’s no shortage of delectable dishes that hit the spot whenever you’re in Orange County’s melting pot. One day you’re eating tacos and the next you’re curled over a hot plate of Southern comfort food. For a little bit of everything, Craft House presents the ‘Knife + Fork’ Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich. A year-round staple, the Southern-rooted dish turns heads when it leaves the kitchen and hits the table. From the marinade to the cheddar and buttermilk biscuit, Craft House makes every layer of the sandwich—and everything else on the menu—in-house for a meal that takes you right back home.
Southern food is known for its food coma-inducing effects and heartiness, and while you may need a nap afterward, you’ll be dreaming of flavors that remind you of your family’s kitchen. This rings true for Craft House’s Knife + Fork Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich, which never fails to capture the attention of many. Because of its large size and crumbling biscuits, the knife and fork aspect was implemented for a ‘cleaner’ eating experience. But according to Executive Chef and Owner Blake Mellgren, the crumbling is a sign of a good biscuit—another Southern element that’s celebrated in this dish.
The sandwich has a lot of layers, much like the craftsmanship that went into making it. The chicken thigh is marinated for at least 24 hours with a marinade that’s spiced up with paprika and cayenne. White cheddar melts on the biscuits, and as for the fresh-made slaw, iceberg lettuce, carrots, red onions, scallions and bell peppers are all tossed together to balance the savoriness of the chicken. The slaw dressing adds the tang while the honey sriracha sweetens it up. The dish also comes with hand-cut French fries tossed in a little herb mix and salt.
When asked about how the ‘Knife + Fork’ Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich came about, Chef Mellgren explained, “A chicken sandwich is what I love to eat… It’s the simplest dish that hits all the little flavor notes on your palate.” With a laugh, he added, “I think there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like a biscuit and fried chicken.”
Craft House sits along Pacific Coast Highway in SoCal’s original surf town, Dana Point, right across the Lantern District. Inside, the bar takes center stage with low and high countertops and a shelf loaded with liquor and wine. The rustic decor coupled with the dim light bulb fixtures above the bar set the mood for the evening hours. A mixture of music genres amplifies the New American vibes and the slanted roof encapsulates the restaurant’s namesake.
At Craft House, Chef Mellgren emphasizes hospitality. When people walk in through the doors, they should feel at home—like they’re visiting friends and family. “Craft House is the craft of hospitality and all the layers of craftsmanship within a restaurant,” he said. This also applies to his team, all of whom deserve the praise and accolades for their passion projects that inspire them to shake up new bar drinks or sprinkle in new menu items.
The ‘Knife + Fork’ Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich is not the only thing that will keep you seated—Chef Mellgren and his team will ensure your time at Craft House is filled to the brim with the intimacy of hospitality. Even when it’s a busy Friday night, Chef Mellgren will stop by your table and chat for 20 minutes. “There’s nothing I won’t do for those that support us and help us do what we want,” said Chef Mellgren. From asking how the food and drinks taste to how your week has been going, the conversation is as full as your stomach will be at the end of your meal.
“At the end of the day, all I care about is cooking good food and making people happy, really,” said Chef Mellgren. “Good drinks, good food, good service—you don’t need anything else.”
Familiar Faces: Eddie Judge from “The Real Housewives,” Lauren Conrad, Sammy Hagar and Amos Lee are some of the celebrities who’ve visited Craft House.
Sink in the Drinks: On Wine Wednesdays, you can get 40 percent off any bottle of wine without a price or bottle limit. On rainy days, there’s a special where you get half off your first drink.
Trailblazer: Chef Mellgren attended the Golden Foodies 2018 and was a contender for Restaurateur and Chef of the Year.
Our Hearts Are Full: Craft House partners with charities such as MaxLove Project which advocates dieting, clean eating and how it assists in cancer rehabilitation.
34094 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629