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Diver Scallops
Kevin’s Kitchen at Knucklehead’s
1717 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente

Diver Scallops. Photo: Eric Heinz
Diver Scallops. Photo: Eric Heinz

Knucklehead’s may be one of the only places around that features scallops and Pabst Blue Ribbon specials in one location. Tucked inside the self-described “No. 1 dive bar” is a little-known gourmet wheelhouse, where chef Kevin Cahalan serves his unique take on bar food. Part of his repertoire is the daily “blue plate” special, which includes various dishes created by the chef.

The diver scallops were the feature of the day last Saturday. They were pan-seared and surrounded by toasted couscous with sweet potatoes, tart pickled onions and savory bits of bacon—they were all unified under the guidance of a red wine reduction.

It’s an interesting combination that isn’t bashful about pronouncing each ingredient to its full potential. The homespun development of flavor in the vegetables provided a foundation on which the scallops could star, all while maintaining consistent texture.

Cahalan said he came to Knuckleheads about two years ago to bring high cuisine to a wider audience. He said he enjoys breaking normal traditions and conventions of gourmet cooking.

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