Do you see the pool of Garlic Butter under the Crispy Artichoke Hearts (above)? We had the same Hot Appetizer at El Galleon Restaurant in Avalon on Catalina Island, except our pool of Garlic Butter was twice as deep. Our formerly Crispy Artichoke Hearts could high dive into it. We were surprised to see them served that way. Why would El Galleon fry them to a crispy, golden brown only to place them essentially in Oil again? It’s simply a bad idea. The Garlic Butter should be served on the side to preserve crispiness. Don’t you think so? And they’re too expensive at $11.95. We’ll get something else next time. El Galleon is otherwise a fun place with Live Karaoke and countless other dishes and specialty drinks to choose from.
Though it’s often hard to park in the heart of Laguna Beach, there’s a small parking structure directly behind Tortilla Republic. It’s best to park there, as there were spaces available.
Tortilla Republic’s Brunch Menu is impressive — Several items are pictured here.
I highly recommend the Salsa Trio and Guacamole sides (above). All three Salsas were different and flavorful, and the Guacamole was fresh, dense and excellent tasting.
My photos don’t do it justice — It’s a cool looking, nautical-ish, dark and light, stylish place.
The front is completely open to allow most inside to view the ocean across the street.
They have a Brunch, Lunch, Afternoon and Dinner Menu and/or Bar for just a drink.
I’m not sure, but believe the above is a Hibiscus Margarita – They offer many unique drinks.
Pictured from top down, we tried Tortilla Republic’s Huevos Rancheros, Fresh Corn & Blueberry Pancakes, aforementioned Salsa Trio and Guacamole, and Egg White Omelete.
Carnitas Tacos (above) — See Tortilla Republic’s Menus for additional descriptions of all.
Pescado a la Parrilla aka Seared Albacore Tuna Taco (above).
Machaca Burrito (above).
Mole Enchiladas (above).
Black Beans & Mexican Rice, a side option.
Seared Albacore Tuna & Sweet Potato Hash, served with two Poached Eggs (above).
At Tortilla Republic Restaurant in Laguna Beach — View from inside looking out.
Hallway in and out — It’s hard to see, but it’s the sea, past the nice cars out front.
Cheers to Tortilla Republic with their Prickly Pear Bellini!
I’ve loved Bistango Restaurant for years, its Bar, and paintings throughout its walls, and now there’s Bistango Gardens, a relaxing oasis in the heart of the Irvine business district.
We recently enjoyed a sampling of Bistango Gardens‘ Terrace Menu designed for sharing.
CHEERS to outdoor patio dining near a fountain with great Wine — We seek that out.
The Souvlaki Greek Marinated Beef Kabobs (above) were nicely tender and flavorful.
They offer several tasty Small Plates, a few are pictured. Some photos are from Bistango.
See linked MENU for plate specifics.
We tried all the items listed below, savored each bite and left wanting more.
We especially liked Bistango Gardens‘ Lamb Sliders with Brandied Balsamic Cherries, Goat Cheese and Arugula on a Brioche Bun (pictured at top). The flavor combination was perfect.
Chili Marinated Shrimp (below) — See Bistango’s Menus to learn more about all.
The best part of this report is that… I will most likely be moving into the building across the street from Bistango, its Gardens and all of this, at the beginning of January 2015. My other career, Paralegal, takes me there. I was very happy to see all within walking distance from a high story window view in the center of great things. I’m looking forward to more. Thanks!
I appreciate Bistango’s exemplar hospitality over twenty-plus years.
I didn’t need anything else, until I recently tried several of StoneFire Grill’s new menu items. They’re grilling, chopping and serving up much more than I ever realized. It’s a restaurant for everyone, especially me more often. Everything they make has an abundance of flavor.
We tried new Sandwiches, Sides and other ‘From The Grill’ specialties I already want again.
StoneFire Grill’s MENU is here.
Photo of my first plate (above) and of one of my new favorite dishes (below) — The Shrimp with Lemon, Olive Oil, Garlic, Chili Flakes and chopped Parsley served with Quinoa. So tasty!
And their ‘Incredible Carrot Cake’ is indeed incredible and very moist.
Other new favorites are the Whole Roasted Cauliflower (top photo) that’s served warm topped with Lemon Tahini and chopped Parsley – It’s a most impressive Side dish.
And my favorite Sandwich was the Roasted Cauliflower Pita — It’s spicy, different and delicious. There are currently seven StoneFire Grill locations. Most photos here were taken a menu tasting in Irvine and the better ones were provided. While there I learned that it all started with a large, close family and it’s run by friendly, connected people. They say… Let the fire spread from our kitchen to your heart. It’s shown through the food and people.
My husband says Dami Sushi & Izakaya is his new favorite Sushi place. We were in awe over their Hamachi and Maguro (above) – Both were strikingly gorgeous, fresh and delicious.
It’s a hip place too. I didn’t take many photos, since most seats were full and I didn’t want my camera to flash in people’s faces. We’ve dined at their Sushi Bar a couple times since they opened a few months ago. We appreciate the promptly served Edamame and Pickled Vegetables. Upon our first visit, we were served Miso Soup — A nice bonus that varies.
Everything that came out of the Sushi Bar this night looked like a work of art.
We had Dami Sushi’s Beach Roll (below) – It’s made with Spicy Tuna, Crabmeat, Avocado, Gobo and Salmon and is deep fried. It has an enchanting combination of flavors. It’s not guaranteed that yours will look exactly like ours, but it’ll be pretty and fresh. They also have an extensive, GREAT sounding menu, with several listed items I’d love to try. See MENU.
Izakaya — A Japanese drinking establishment that serves food to accompany the drinks. A tavern or pub for after work gathering for drinks and small dishes to share. Dami does it well.
Dami Sushi & Izakaya is at the Village Circle on Beach in Buena Park — Open 5 to Midnight.
Comida del Oceano — A Limited Edition Seafood Menu currently being offered at El Torito Cantina Authentica in honor of its 60th Anniversary. They’re having a ‘Year of Celebration’.
Nibbles of Tidbits was invited to try most items on El Torito’s Comida del Oceano Menu.
It was an honor for us, as we respect and appreciate El Torito’s 60 Years of Service – Gracias!
Cheers to that with a Spicy Pepino Margarita and Yerba Buena, described below and here.
My favorite, the Spicy Pepino Margarita is made with Cucumbers, Cilantro and Jalapenos.
Also on the Comida del Oceano Menu, pictured from top down is the Calamari Filet Appetizer (Crispy Calamari Filet Strips served atop Baby Arugula with a Sweet Chili Sauce), which was perfectly crisp and tender, nicely cooked and the best Calamari I’ve had in a long time.
Enchiladas de Mariscos filled with Shrimp, Crab and Three Cheeses.
The Enchiladas are served atop tasty sautéed vegetables, as shown above and in first photo.
Tacos de Camarones, served in Guajillo basted Tortillas — We loved that about them.
The Salmon Polanco-Style is a work of art and great atop Spinach and Chimichurri Sauce.
Camarones en Garlic-Lemon Butter Sauce — Loved the Roasted Tomato Butter Sauce too.
Cheers to El Totito’s longevity and continuous progression.
Our menu tour concluded with the Seafood Fajitas Supremas, a guest and employee favorite.
It includes Shrimp, Mahi Mahi and Crispy Calamari — A supreme Fajitas combination indeed.
Flourless Chocolate Cake, a gluten free choice by many — It’s ultra-moist with excellent flavor.
Thank you dedicated Chefs! Looks like they have a great team under Chef Loreto Alcala (right). Chef Arturo Castillo (left) heads up El Torito’s Orange location off The City Way. We dined at the Fullerton location this day, a nice, large space with a Bar and Outdoor Patio.
We wish El Torito 60+ more years of success combined with dish and drink innovation.
See Orange County Restaurant Week’s List of Participating Restaurants — It’s HERE, with respective menus and price listings. We’ll be dining in Historic Downtown Fullerton this year, as it’s near where we just moved and still part of Orange County. Matador Cantina, The Cellar and/or Hopscotch shall be our choice for lunch and/or dinner(s) next week.
At the Fig & Olive Restaurant in Newport Beach — I’ve finally arrived.
I have wanted to eat there for some time and now don’t need to travel far.
It’s in Newport Beach at Fashion Island — I believe it occupies Coco’s former location.
Nibbles of Tidbits was fortunately invited to its Grand Opening Party.
All was grander than expected — Its size, style, crowd and continuous appetizers.
As shown throughout, we tried a fair sampling of many.
Indoor/outdoor patio with fireplace (above) before it filled with people.
I don’t recall all we ate, but pictured above is the Zucchini Carpaccio — See MENU.
The hallway leading to the restrooms is filled with fresh Herbs, candles, vases and books.
The Grand Opening Party was complete with models on platforms throughout.
We were well positioned by the kitchen to receive the first right of refusal on appetizers.
None were refused, all were well liked and some loved.
The Truffle Mushroom Croquette (above) was a favorite of the evening.
Crostinis are popular at the Fig & Olive Restaurant.
I especially liked the Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Chive Crostini.
The large space got crowded, which made it harder to jockey for a good food position.
We ultimately tried all pictured herein — For their complete MENU, see here.
We’d like to go back for more Crostinis & Crudo to enjoy at our leisure
Lunch starts in Newport Beach on January 6th and Brunch on January 11th, 2014.
The Fig & Olive Restaurant is in several spots in New York, in Los Angeles and now nearby.
Nice cars adorned the entry leading to a red carpet — I was underdressed, but treated well.
Fig & Olive Ingredients and Design — It’s about passion for the best Olive Oils, flavors and cuisine from the Riviera and Coastal Regions of the South of France, Italy & Spain and their elegant, warm design with limestone stucco walls, terra-cotta ceiling, green Rosemary and Olive trees exude the essence of the Mediterranean (they say). I like it!
SeaLegs Wine Bar — It’s my new favorite restaurant (and Wine Bar, especially on a Wednesday when all Wine is 1/2 off). Everything I’ve had there has been amazing.
LOVE its smart, chic, cool and comfortable style — Parts feel like an east coast vacation spot.
As noted, we think they have the BEST Truffle Mac & Cheese around (top photo) — Huntington Beach is where it’s at. I’m told it’s made with White Cheddar, Mozzarella and Blue Cheese.
See SeaLegs Wine Bar’s Menu by the seashore, Pacific in this instance — I give no resistance.
Also on the menu, pictured herein are the Bleu Sliders and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus.
I’ve yet to try most of their food, but want to, really, really bad.
Instead I’ve toasted there with ole high school chums on Wednesdays.
Cheers to SeaLegs Wine Bar (and its food) today with memories of yesterday.
Happy Hour prices ($5 Wine & Plates) apply ‘At The Bar’ only, M-F’s from 3-6p.m.
Will climb for Wine wit me sea legs.
It has a more polished, clean look and a larger outdoor patio, something I usually hope for in a place. Pizza is available inside and at times via the pass-through window adjacent to it.
The Cheese Platter was generous in size and unique with spicy, sweet and colorful Cheeses.
Our Salad (forgot which one) was good to share too — Check their website menu when it’s up.
Upstairs view from The Triangle at Broadway and Newport Boulevard.
And the Wild Goose Tavern has landed at The Little Knight — It too looks spiffier.
We look forward to trying it, especially the Grilled Romaine and Truffle Herb Fries.
Linked here is a video of a Carrabba’s Chef making their Beef Brasato, which is featured in one of Carrabba’s Italian Grill’s commercials. Though I’ve never been there, the dish Beef Brasato looks and sounds pretty good – It’s basically slow braised Short Ribs, Italian style.
Carrabba’s Beef Brasato RECIPE has the makings for a great dish… Wine, Beef, Fresh Herbs, Garlic, Onion, etc. All ingredients are pictured but not listed – If visually indecipherable (Olive Oil, Dried Sweet Marjoram, Crushed Tomatoes, Lemon Zest), the complete list is here.
Cut, dice, chop, crush and press the Garlic, Herbs and Vegetables.
Flour, Salt, Pepper and sear the Beef Short Ribs.
Sauté the Mirepoix.
Add Garlic, Red Wine, and return the seared Beef and add the remaining ingredients.
Apologies for the poorly seared Beef, pan wasn’t hot enough (a common story on The Bad).
Braise all covered together in the oven at 300° – 325° for 4 hours, until Beef will fall apart.
Serve over Rice or Risotto — It was flavorful, though I added too much Crushed Tomato.
I’d make it again or try it at the restaurant someday — The pics don’t validate it well.
We set out to have Chili’s $20 Dinner for 2 which includes one Appetizer and two Entrees, but once there we instead opted for Chili’s less advertised upgrade, the $35 Dinner for 2 that includes an Appetizer and Dessert to share, and two Margaritas and two Entrees.
To further surpass the original $20 dinner plan, we upgraded to the Platinum Presidente Ritas.
Enlarge pictured menus to assess options or visit Chili’s.
We chose the Tostada Chips & Fire-Grilled Corn Guacamole for our Appetizer.
LOVE Chili’s thin, crispy Chips — We couldn’t get over how thin they are and would go back just for them. Have they always been this good? I don’t remember. Are they as thin and crispy at all Chili’s? We hope so, but don’t know. We dined at Chili’s Buena Park location.
For Entrees we chose the Roasted Red Pepper Grilled Chicken (above).
And the Smokey Chipotle Chicken Fajitas (above and at top).
Fixings for the Smokey Chipotle Chicken Fajitas (above and below).
Shared the Brownie Sundae for Dessert — Usually prefer something light and/or fruity, but it was good and filling. Overall, we think both the $20/$35 Dinners for 2 are good values.
We’ll try the $20 Dinner for 2 next time, though the Margaritas are tempting.
The 2 for $20 meal — It’s a real deal at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar.
This was our first time to an Applebee’s and we learned it’s hipper than we thought.
It’s a welcoming place for the young and the old — I like that. Its full Bar helps too.
We happened upon ”$5 Sangria Saturdays” and appreciated the generous size glass too.
For an Appetizer, we opted for the Spinach & Artichoke Dip and would do so again.
And for Entrees we chose the Chipotle Cream Steak & Shrimp and the Three Cheese Chicken Penne. Both were good. Top Sirloin was served as the Steak (above) and it was tender, a must for any Steak – I never like to chew and chew and chew a Steak.
The ‘Welcome Back!’ sign shall apply next time, since we’d go back for this deal.
Cheers to 2 for $20 at Applebee’s and other specials like it – The service, atmosphere and lighting was pleasant too. We also like the T.G.I. Friday’s 3-Course Menu for (2) for $20. And Chili’s Grill & Bar has a $20 Dinner for Two that we plan to try (and report on) soon.
Iva Lee’s Restaurant is a Southern Dinner House in San Clemente (and more).
It’s charming, welcoming and hometown, and an all around nice place to hang out.
It’s co-owned by a husband and wife team, whose grandmother was Iva Lee.
Most of the food pictured here is from their Catering Menu – All was served during Iva Lee’s Restaurant’s Ten Year Anniversary celebration. Fried Green Tomatoes with Sonoma Goat Cheese Crème (below) are popular. All Hors D’ Oeuvres were stirringly first-rate.
The restaurant’s interior is sexy and quaint.
Live Blues and Jazz play in a modest and stylish, relaxed Bar.
See Iva Lee’s website for food, entertainment and catering specifics — We just enjoy it.
Signature Cocktails on the patio on a Sunday afternoon in the Summer time.
Cheers to one of the best days ever — Behind the scenes, complimented with Iva Lee fare.
It’s a relatively small restaurant with airy, open indoor/outdoor seating.
We thoroughly enjoyed our patio seat and hope for the same one next time.
We like the Tasting Menus so much, we want to try them ALL.
There are 9 Tasting Menus to choose from, which are basically four course meals, with Wine paired with each course – The food portions and Wine pours are extremely generous too.
The Old Vine Café is stylish and its virtuoso menu is presented on painted canvas.
It was hard to decide, but we chose The Premium Tasting Menu and Savory Tasting Menu.
TOAST between each course and if you fancy a Wine, take a bottle home. We fell for the 2007 Von Hovel Riesling Spatlese, Mosel Saar Ruver Germany. It was crisp and not too sweet.
The pictured are generally described — See Dinner Menu for complete (better) descriptions.
At top from first course down, we savored Large Shrimp with a Lemon Grass Curry Sauce.
And Seasonal Greens with Crispy Prosciutto, Fried Onions and Maytag Blue Cheese, a giant Hand Made Raviolo with Smoked Duck, Goat Cheese and Porcini Mushrooms in Brown Butter with Sage, and Prosciutto Wrapped Baby Artichokes with a Citrus Infused Olive Oil.
Char Grilled Lamb Chops with a Blueberry Malbec Demi Glace — The Sauce was magical.
Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff with Shitake Mushrooms served over Hand Made Fettuccini.
Artisan Cheese with Marcona Almonds and Fresh Fruit.
Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake — Cheers to that with Port.
All is set near tall pine trees, a CAMP fire, hammock and the largest wind chimes I’ve seen.
Mark McDonald is the Old Vine Café’s Chef and owner, and a true expert on Local Cuisine, where Orange County’s Best Restaurants are highlighted . I’m also a listed expert and humbled to be named amongst others far more knowledge, especially after this meal.
It’s worth the sometimes parking hassles of The Camp – Once you’re there, it’s a delicious escape. I love it, I love it, I love it, like a Joyologist, and should have my leg kicked up high.
Already ready for the next OVC Tasting Menu.
Have you been to Prime Cut Café & Wine Bar yet?
The service is indeed warm and friendly, as described in The Prime Cut Difference (above).
Starting Monday, April 30th, they’ll be offering prix fixe Three Course Dinners for $20.
Nibbles of Tidbits got to pre-nibble it — Somebody has to make sure all will be up to par.
For Starters, we opted for the Tomato Bisque.
And the Marinated Roasted Beet and Avocado Salad — The portion sizes are generous.
For our Entrees, we selected the Spice Roasted Chicken (top) and Shortrib Pasta (above).
And the Wild Berry Sorbet and Carrot Cake for Dessert.
I love the Café’s lighting — It just feels right and goes well with the classy food.
Bar area (below), straight ahead as you walk in.
Cheers to a great deal — The Three Course Dinner MENU will be available M – TH.
Excellent Wine isn’t included in the price, but highly recommended.
Responsibility never tasted so good they say — 100% of the profits from Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails go to aid people affected by vision impairment and blindness. How often does that happen? It’s a wonderful thing, as is the waterfall wall seen as you walk in.
The restaurant is upstairs and special events are hosted downstairs and up.
It’s an open, airy space with lots of big windows.
They have a Happy Hour, Free Corkage on Tuesdays and a Flamenco Guitarist some days.
It’s called Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails, as they “care deeply” about all aspects of food sourcing, serving, and creating an environment where sharing a meal enhances relationships.
During a Happy Hour pop in, we shared a few Small Plates.
Andrei’s Crab Cakes.
And Grilled Tomato & Cheese — Our favorite of the bunch was Andrei’s Crab Cakes.
Bar and lounge area with cozy couches and pillows.
Everyone was so nice, without the mention of Nibbles of Tidbits, our regular M.O.
The valet parking area reminds me of Palm Springs — I like the feel and thought of it all.
In respect to Asian traditions, you’re encouraged to share dishes with friends and family — I read it on the Starfish Menu (created for sharing), and gladly did so. Embrace the custom.
Starfish in Laguna Beach serves Asian Coastal Cuisine that’s best described here.
Its atmosphere is sexy and stylish, set for passion, desire, pleasure, romance and sensitivity.
As well as energy, unity, strength, compassion, patience and heart, they hope — I see it.
It’s good for the eyes and soul – And so are the amazingly flavorful Korean Galbi Tacos.
We also had the Wagyu Banh Mi Sliders (above) and Starfish Baby Back Ribs (below).
Every dish packed a punch of flavor and the Ribs were fork tender, a must for my vote.
I love its light blue and red colors, and the back lit wall in the Bar area — It’s beautiful.
And they also wish YOU luck, longevity, prosperity, happiness and wealth.
Must have passed it a hundred times on Newport Boulevard and finally dined in. It was a Wednesday when there is no corkage fee. We didn’t know it until we saw patron after patron walk in with a bottle of Wine. Next time I’m bringin’ a bottle too (most did), and won’t feel stupid — Always thought it awkward, but it’s smart when no corkage. Who’s stupid now?
Enlightened is the word — We ordered from the restaurant week and regular menu, as many French specialties sounded good, and previously reported about Pescadou Bistro’s Paté.
Don’t have exact names of the pictured here, but confidently state ALL was a pleasure.
A toast with Wine on the tab, to the Paté, Salad with Wild Boar Salami and Gold Potato, Cream of Cauliflower Soup, Grilled Lamb Chops and “Gigot” Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb. Santé!
And to one of the best desserts I’ve ever had — It doesn’t look all that, especially in the photo below, but DANG, it was taste-TEE and unfortunately not on their regular menu. It should be.
Described as an Ice Cream Parfait with Candied Fruit and Red Raspberry Sauce, it was extraordinaire. I hope to have IT again. And Foie Gras, before the end of the year (preferably on a Wednesday) — It’s at Pescadou Bistro, until it’s banned from being sold in California next year. I’m not keen on the politics of it and recommend the Bistro become a speakeasy for it. There’s a lot more to say and write about it, but on a different blog.
Back to Pescadou – Stop in for dinner (only) ahead of passing it by. It’s romantic too.
It’s more like a meal for four than two, and it’s only $39.95 any day at Maggiano’s.
You choose any Appetizer, Two Classic Pastas and a Dessert (plus more later).
We opted for the Stuffed Mushrooms, Mom’s Lasagna Marinara, Baked Rigatoni Pomodoro and Tiramisu — All was generous in size and amazing to eat. We’d go back again for the same.
And as if that’s not enough, you get to take home two additional Classic Pastas.
Further details are shown above — See MENU for Classic Pasta options.
Cheers to a wonderful Italian meal in Little Italy for dinner.
Two Take Home Classic Pastas, plus leftovers to enjoy a couple times after – A fine value.
The above was pegged an Oil & Vinegar Pac Man and post title includes a fictitious word inspired by another, who expressed Maggiano’s is ‘tops’ in three other letters after the t.
So many love Maggiano’s and I’m always reminded why — Fly me to the spoon and dish up.
Maggiano’s South Coast Plaza yesterday and take away Eggplant Parmesan today.
It’s a coop in the translation of a “friendly society” of neighbors, friends of friends, long time patrons, regulars and the newly enlightened — It’s The Chicken Coop Restaurant at the point of Old Newport and Westminster Avenue. Dinner, lunch and/or drinks in the Bar is best.
The Prime Rib (top) was the special of this day. The Chicken Coop prices are comparably good and most entrees are served with a Salad, Baked Potato, Vegetables and Roll.
Broasted Chicken is a specialty — It’s crispy, juicy and pressure cooked to eliminate grease.
They have an Oyster Bar Menu too that offers Oysters Rockefeller, Steamed Clams, Baked Mussels, Mexican Shrimp Cocktails, Shrimp Scampi, Calamari Tacos and much more.
Enlarge MENUS for a better view.
Their Cadillac Margaritas and Bloody Mary’s are simply marvelous — Fly me to the Coop.
McCormick & Schmick’s Pilsner Room still serves above average Happy Hour Food — They’ve offered an ever changing menu of high quality appetizers at great prices for many years.
This day we had the King Crab Legs with a Tomato Chili Gastrique.
Current MENU and prices above.
1/2 lb. Cheeseburger with French Fries – A long time staple there that’s always good.
Risotto Balls – Enlarge menu for more description on all.
Carrot Chipotle Wings.
Dynamite Mussels, a favorite — Photo doesn’t do ‘em justice.
Marinated Olives — Since prices are so good you can’t pack anything to go, so eat up.
Its interior is hipper looking these days, mixed in with appreciated old school.
View of Pilsner Room from above.
There’s an outdoor patio too.
Entrance to McCormick & Schmick’s.
A peek inside M & S’s.
Flight of Beer — We took a couple flights.
Can’t we skip this part?
Peace out — Thanks for the GC Sarnoff from my other life.