Q&A with King’s Seafood Company's Beverage Director

Bar & Restaurant News recently caught up with Kevin Felker, beverage director at King’s Seafood Company, to talk about winter seafood, pairings, and trends in the seafood market.

King’s Seafood Company owns and operates six unique restaurant brands in 23 markets across the U.S., and the company leverages more than 75 years of strong, global relationships with fishermen and lobstermen, many of which are in the company’s home state of California.

Read on to learn more about seafood in the on-premise.


Bar & Restaurant News (BRN): Why is it important for a seafood restaurant to have a robust bar program?

Kevin Felker (KF): A robust bar program adds to the guests’ overall dining experience from start to finish. Prior to sitting down for the meal, the guest should enjoy an aperitif-style cocktail, such as a negroni or Aperol spritz, or perhaps a dry, crisp beer or sparkling wine. After the meal, to aid with digestion, a good program should provide a variety of digestifs, such as a variety of amaros, digestive-style cocktails, and a good selection of aged spirits.


BRN: Do you have any recommendations for pairing cocktails with seafood?

KF: Pairing cocktails and seafood can be tricky. Cocktails, typically, are too intense in flavor due to their potentially high acid, sugar, and/or alcohol content, which leads them to overpower most food items. I recommend pairing a seafood dish with a glass of wine or beer and enjoying cocktails and spirits before and after the meal for a complete experience.


BRN: What’s currently trending in seafood?

KF: When it comes to seafood, we are product driven. That means from our preparation to presentation, we are constantly striving for each dish to be as good as the product itself. The seafood is the focus, and our culinary team is dedicated to create and plate items as such. Just as the seasons change, so too do our first-of-season selections. Our guests love trying seasonal favorites and the latest catches on our menus, which are printed daily.

Currently, its California spiny lobster season! Collected October through March along the West Coast from Baja California to Monterey Bay, wild California spiny lobsters don’t have claws like their well-known relatives, the Maine lobster. Instead, they use their spine and tail for defense, which results in a meatier and more flavorful tail that’s easier to pull out and eat.


BRN: Any advice for how on-premise establishments can promote seafood in the “off” months like fall and winter?

KF: There are no off months when it comes to seafood! The availability of certain products can change from month-to-month, depending on what’s in season, for example. Our first-of-season program and bartender’s special are two examples of how we’re constantly introducing new selections for our guests to try – whether they’re regulars, visiting from out of town, or celebrating a milestone with friends and family. 

raw bar seafood in the on-premise

BRN: Do you have any general recommendations for bars/restaurants looking to pair wines with seafood?

KF: When it comes to pairing, I first consider the main player of the dish, which is typically a protein. Often, if the protein has an intense flavor such as ribeye steak, salmon, etc., then I focus the wine pairing on that item.

The pairing gets trickier when the protein is subtle in flavor, such as chicken breast, halibut, etc. in which case the pairing shifts to the preparation, cooking method, sauces, vegetables, and herbs and focuses on the various players of the composed dish. The biggest takeaway is to ensure the wine doesn’t overpower the food.

seafood in the on-premise
Halibut Chorizo (Photo: King's Seafood Company)

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