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Anyplace new or interesting in OC?

OVC is a teensy, but nice indie with a welcoming vibe... a few doors down is the new Ecco, which is getting positive buzz. Also nearby is Mesa-- a modern gastropub (though cocktails and wine feature big in the picture); it gets pretty club-like after 10 or so. The roof opens if the weather allows.

In Old Town Orange, Gabbi's Kitchen is nice for accomplished Mexican fare and a vast range of tequilas. Locals love Haven, an above average gastropub, but it's very noisy when full (which is often). Black Sheep in Tustin is good and not loud-- it's in escrow-- so get there before year's end if you want to try them.

Near SCPlaza, Charlie Palmer is excellent and there's also the new Seasons 52 for casual woodfired fare and a nightly piano bar. Some folks really like sexy AnQi for stylish and pricey Viet-fusion food and drinks-- but I think Nello (in the same building) is underrated for quite-good Italian (they have a nice patio too).

Nov 12, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

OC pizza freaks?

I've got some pizza-fiend visitors coming to OC and I'm a bit insecure as to what places shouldn't be missed (I'm a taco/sushi fan myself).

Please 'Hounders, make me look smart.. where should I take these folks? (and I will give you all the credit). Can you supply your 3-5 faves? Doesn't matter where (in OC) or how much, thick/thin crust, old school or new wave.

I'm well aware of only a few: Pizzeria Ortica, Il Dolce, and Luigi's.

Pizzeria Ortica
650 Anton Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Oct 07, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Cocktail bars?

Old money, old school:
The Ritz at Fashion Island

New wave old school:
Pizzeria Ortica (So Coast Metro)
Mastro's (ditto)
Mesa (ditto)
Habana (ditto)
I happen to like CPalmer's lounge and think they pour a better than average drink.

On PCH in Newport
Three Thirty Three ( a bit of a scene)
Sol Cocina (better than it sounds)
Gulfstream (eding over to Corona del Mar)
SideDoor (ditto)


2930 Bristol St Ste A110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Pizzeria Ortica
650 Anton Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

10250 Santa Monica Blvd 656, Los Angeles, CA

Mastros Restaurant
2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Sol Cocina
251 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Aug 04, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Seeking top OC cheese plates

Where are OC's better cheese courses/plates? I'm hoping for something along the lines of Napa Rose... and there must be some other contenders. Right?

Or, am I dreaming...

Thanks for any thoughts in the cheese category.

Napa Rose Restaurant
1600 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

Jul 19, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Great Artisan Bakery in OC?

The Goodells never owned, only managed A. Shelly and Chef Vartagan are still at the helm.

Jul 19, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

OC bartender's breakfast?

An bartender friend visiting OC from chilly Chicago wants to sample a breakfast joint(s) likely to serve the mixologist set-- a request that is kind of stumping me. Any ideas?

Mar 09, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

OC's better or best lox & bagels resto breakfast?

Woo boy, was my latest breakfast at Benjie's in Tustin a disappointment.

Can anyone suggest a a better spot for lox/bagels in teh morning?? TIA

Feb 20, 2010
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Napa Rose - for a special occasion???

NRose does have a private room-- it seats about 18 or so. My recollection on the actual capacity is dimmed by time and all the wine consumed that night a few years back.

Also, there are some more remote tables that can seat 4-6 off to one side of the main room.

And I agree with OP-- in that they should be happy to accommodate your need for quieter seating... providing they're not swamped with convention business.

FYI. The chef's table is not a table, but a counter. Great fun, but not conducive to face-to-face conversation.

All that said, some of my best 'special' meals have been at NRose. Their game is typically quite strong.

Mar 31, 2009
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Ultimate OC Restaurants, 2008

Over 25
Marche Moderne
Stonehill Tavern
Charlie Palmer's
A Restaurant
Napa Rose

Under 25:
Crow Bar
Old Vine Cafe
El Farolito
Izakaya Wasa

Dec 16, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Ethnic casual dinner between Newport and Laguna

Wow-- that's a pretty teensy window. You're basically limiting yourself to Corona del Mar and Newport Coast.

That said, it's a zone very light on the places you're seeking. High-income ZIP codes don't attract alot of indie ethnic joints.

My pick for ethnic would be Bamboo Bistro-- Thai-Viet type fusion
2600 E Coast Hwy, CdM
(949) 720-1289

If you're serious about finer dining, there's Mastro's, Javier's and Sage at Crystal Cove Promendae (Newport Coast). And in CdM on PCH, Oysters, Bandera, The Bungalow. I would avoid Landmark ... but Crow Bar Kitchen is a fave-- but noisy when busy.

Dec 05, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

OC night-of-the-week Deals?

Thanks for the link.

That Bouilla Thursday at MM is really something special-- $48, but it is enough for two. If you like authentic bouilabaise, it's worth the trip and $.

Oct 24, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

OC night-of-the-week Deals?

Am hoping to put together a week long calendar of special meal deals offered on certain nights (or even limited times of the day, but I think twilight dinners are pretty much relegated to senior citizen destinations these days).

Any ideas? For ex, I know Muldoon's Celtic Pub has AYCE fish n' chips on Wednesdays.

TIA, hounds.

Oct 22, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Horrible experience at Roy's

Sounds like a pretty negative performance by Roy's. But I think they're (for the most part) decently run-- and I urge you to relate this exact experience to the GM there. At least give them a chance to 'fix' it, before you swear off them and take as many others with you as you can with a post like this.

If you get an unsatisfactory response, then spread the bad news.

Oct 06, 2008
OCBites in Chains

Carpaccio in OC

I was recently pleasantly blown away by the carpaccio at Fleming's (NB). Slightly updated, but delish all the same. My tablemate said it was the best he's ever had. Don't know if I'm ready to declare a 'best'...

For old scool, I like Prego (Irvine), the version I had a Cucina Alessa (HB) was also xlnt. Nello Cucina (SCPlaza, Crystal Court) is also reliably good.

Sep 29, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

English tea for lunch near Bower Musuem

I think McCharles House is no longer open regular hours.

In Orange, try Somewhere in Time or Victorian Manor... both tea rooms on Glassell.

If it were me, I would just have a lovely courtyard lunch at Tangata at the Bowers. It's decent California fare by the Patina Group. There's also Green Parrot Cafe, almost directly accrooss the street from Bowers -- a chef-owned California spot with another nice courtyard setting.

Aug 05, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Crudo at Blanca, Newport Beach?

My experience was that the crudo served by the chef you say 'has no idea' was precisley per your desciption of 'traditional standards' . Every crudo
dish used an olive ol, an odd sea or river salt plus an acid element. The fish was impeccablyfresh.

The service? No so much.

Jul 21, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Need Update on Laguna Beach, CA - Cedar Creek Inn closed

TBasilica is correct. Cary Redfearn (owner of Oysters in CdM) is about to start remodeling the site. He said he hopes to open in a few months.

Jul 14, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Is The Sam Woo Empire Crumbling?

It's my understanding that Sam Woo is not a person, but a Chinese term. That would explain the many changes and permutations. I don't think there ever was an 'empire', or let alone a unified chain.

To imagine Sam Woo as a person is akin to believing the HamBurgler is really after your Happy Meal. Methinks.

Jul 11, 2008
OCBites in Chains

LIZARRAN, Fullerton (not-so-brief review)

I tried Lizarran last Tuesday. It was very hit-and-miss. When we asked our waitress about one hot pintxo she offered the table (because it was quite yummy), she couldn't tell us what kind of meat topped the bread. After consulting the kitchen, she then told us it was (I kid you not) PorkBeef. I translate that to mean it was a pork cutlet. I seriously doubt there are Spaniards doing the cooking back there. But it's pretty formulaic food, so any cook can be trained to handle that menu, I guess.

Some pintxos were good, others meh. Friendly but clueless waitresses with next to no understanding of the cuisine. No management visible anywhere-- the kids were running the joint. We did have Spanish tunes in addition to the flat screen sports. Room is oddly anodyne and faceless. Definitely have to bring your own party to this place.

Only after paying our $80 tab (we were 4) did I see Tapas Tuesdays promoted on their website-- every toothpick one dollar. None of ours cost less than $1.75 that Tuesday. Go figure. The website is a hot mess, btw. Dated, confusing and menu descrips are all in Spanish; clearly this franchise has no English language properties before Fullerton.

Pretty decent sangria, though. Part of me says wait-- so they can work the bugs out. Part of me suspects they don't even know/care they have bugs-- and therefore won't be with us for the long haul. I smell an absentee owner.

Jun 28, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Alone for dinner in OC... where?

Sorry-- don't know my coastal geo well. Right where NB almost becomes HB... below Hoag. Guess that's westernmost NB. Maybe I was thinking of Superior?

Jun 21, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Alone for dinner in OC... where?

Coupla thoughts:

Zove's Bistro is debuting their new lounge (as of June)...a a cool, dark , comfy space with some really yummy mezze dishes (menu for the lounge only). Wekness is the wine list... the BTGlas choices are trite and overpriced.

I'm hearing great stuff about Alessa Cafe ((PCH at 19th, I think). It's a new chef-owner cafe (Italian obviously), well priced and supposedly delightful.

If I was alone tonight, I'd hop to Xanh Bistro for Haley Nguyen's Viet food... perfect and cool for this weather. She's on Brookhurst near Edinger in a scruffy shopping center (tho' the cafe iteslf is bright shiny new).

Then there's always Tropika for good Malasian in Tustin (behind Zov's, actually).

Jun 21, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Quirky, unique, or fun in O.C.?

I like the Park Ave. suggestion-- far tastier than Bobby McGee's.

Also, try La Cave in Costa Mesa (another retro joint, underground, with live music).

Mesa Restaurant in Costa Mesa. Cool room with open ceiling. Very loungey. Probably not as cool as it thinks it is.

Across the street is Habana and Memphis. Both worth contenders, in an OC manner.

Also try The Crosby in downtown Santa Ana. Part cafe, part bar, all cool. There's another Memphis down there too (at The Santora bulding)... you could walk to each.

Jun 13, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Happy hour help in C.M./Newport Beach

Bayside is very solid for HH; not an overly MySpace scene.

Jun 05, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Manhattan Supper Club - Orange

I've been twice for two full dinners. Both were very uneven; I've been telling friends to at least visit for drinks b/c it is an impressive remodel.

If they are concerned about keeping the doors open as you say, they need to focus not on 'giving back to the community', but rather, giving full value to the customers who patronize them right now. Yes, they do buy premium, sustainable goods. That's easy. What's hard is doing them justice is a consistent way. What they did to my Niman Ranch chop and my Shelton Farms chix demonstrated the kitchen needs more skill and direction. Sure, the pricing was sane... until I ate the food. Then it felt very expensive. And don't even get me started on the service -- it was shameful.

It's very clear someone put a LOT of money behind it and the area should be able to support a new high-quality venue. I really want MSClub to flourish... but they need to join me in that desire. So for now, I'm gonna step back and wait a bit while they ripen some. But they don't have a lot of wiggle room with this economy and a new crop of hungry fine dining competitors coming online (weekly, it seems). I hope they pull it together quickly so their story has a happy ending.

Jun 04, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Charlie Palmer's at Bloomingdales

It's sooo new I hate to make any pronouncements, but here are just the facts:

Handsome room, open airy, lightfilled. Odd access (best bet is to park by Bloomies' southernmost exposure). Best seating is in the central; area, I will avoid the east wall area due to noise.

Massive wine list made even more daunting by its PDA-type format. When you tire of messing with it, they will gladly provide a hard copy. Next time, I'll ask for that up front. Impressively moderate pricing on wines (hence,$25 corkage).

Upscale, polished service. Not at all fussy.

Menus are now online. My bacon wrapped quail (a waiter recco) was awesome. Salumi platter, a starter, was pure delight (far too much for one, could serve 3). The pureed yokon golds were excellent.Desserts uniformly dazzling (I had the Gianduja with roasted marshmallow). My date's flatiron steak had was one of the best I've ever had in a restaurant.

Cocktails were primo, and priced that way.

Jun 01, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

French bistro in OC?

And there's alway Pleasant Peasant behind John Wayne airport. Also family-run.

May 29, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Family-friendly in Newport Beach

Bandera in Corona del Mar (just south of the BBClub on PCH): Hearty American, sharp service and a quality bar.

Ruby's on the Balboa Pier: More for the kids, but perfectly good burgers, shakes and other basics.

Don't know your kids' ages or temperment, but Tommy Bahama's (also on PCH in CdM) can work if they're not too rowdy...lovely outdoor venue. Very tropical, lots of fish (on the menu), steel drums, etc. Good drinks.

Wilma's Patio is a classic family-friendly diner on Balboa Island that gets lots of locals. Best at breakfast or lunch.

The Beachcomber Cafe on the sand at Crystal Cove State beach is good too. No rezzies... but plenty of shoreline to wander while you wait for your beeper to alert. Not fancy. Fare is good, not great. Decent cocktails too. Killer view.

Full disclosure- I don't have kids. But I would be willing to take them to the places I've listed. I'm sure other 'hounds with kids will soon offer their more seasoned picks.

May 29, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Fleming's Steakhouse and Wine bar (moved from LA board)

My visits (two) to Mahattan Supper Club were dismally uneven. My short rib was the high point, though. For the worst dessert ever, try the Bananas Foster. And the service? Oy! Such a pale imitation of fine dining... I was embarassed for them.

I've been telling folks I like to go for drinks only, for now. I tell my enemies to go asap.

May 22, 2008
OCBites in Chains

Mon night rec: in OC

In Newport, try 'A' the new operation at the site of the 'old' Arches. Or, the 'old' Arches in it's new digs nearby on 29th St. A is new wave old school, the Arches is genuine old school.

Or, down PCH in Corona del Mar... Crow Bar & Kitchen. Monday is a good night-- you'll skip the crazy crowds. Landmark (right by Crow Bar) has also just reopened after a facelift -- they might be a good bet too.

In corporate Irvine-- Taleo is a solid choice. Bistango too.

May 18, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area

Bad Daughter needs Mother's Day rec, OC

How about Salt Creek Grille?
A Restaurant (just open) at the old Arches location (PCH/Newport) has a yummy looking brunch menu...

How about the Cannery? Bluewater Grill?

Bayside? Mamma Gina's? The Hyatt at HB has a great brunch-- it's usually not too crowded.

May 07, 2008
OCBites in Los Angeles Area