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.
I didn’t order the hit on table tent inserts at Hof’s Hut, but appreciate having one with my name on it. For the record, my parent’s friends actually asked if they could take it. I should’ve photographed it instead of scanned it — It’s hard to read, despite its wannabe size progression. Only 15 more days to get the Fancy Smancy Steakhouse Burger at Hof’s Hut. Still celebrating…
Happy 30th The Original Fish Company – It’s been one of my favorite restaurants for the majority of the thirty, though it’s been too many years since I’ve dined there. Once upon a time I lived in Los Alamitos and went there all the time. Now it’s just an occasional luxury and it was awesome to get back. We shared an amazing meal of classic appetizers starting with the Crab Trio with chilled Dungeness, Jumbo Lump and King Crab. I want all of the same.
Steamers with 1/2 Clams and 1/2 Mussels — The “Original” Broth is the best.
Finally satisfied a craving for Oysters Rockefeller, not often seen on menus.
The Smoked King Salmon was moist and flavorful — I used to get the Smoked Albacore a lot.
And must get their Award Winning Clam Chowder every visit.
We built a Tower of Shell — The Fish Company is still remarkable. For fun we used the Clam Shells as mini cups to drink the Steamer Broth. Cheers! This night we had the nicest Server, Curtis (pictured below). Ask for him. I’m already standing by to go back. Got that Jack?
This day it was all about the view and Bloody Marys at Newport Landing.
We were underwhelmed by our food choices — The Sliders, Fish Tacos and Crab Cakes were just okay. Can’t say we’d get any of them again, but will go back for the view, drinks and Oysters Rockefeller, because I like them and don’t see ‘em on a menu often.
The best spot for two at Newport Landing Restaurant is the upstairs patio.
Enlarge MENU for closer examination.
Nearby Seals claim a boat.
Across the street from Newport Landing on the Balboa Peninsula is the Pacific Ocean.
And fishing off the Balboa Pier for free food.
I’ve often thanked God on a Friday and everyday for that matter — T.G.I. Friday’s offers a notable special for two that includes 3 Courses (Appetizer, 2 Entrees and Dessert) for $20.
We opted for the Chicken Quesadilla as the Appetizer, but would choose something different next time — Ours was too greasy. It’s okay though, Friday’s has other Apps to pick from.
For Entrees we had the Petite Sirloin and Bruschetta Chicken Pasta — Both were terrific.
Our Dessert was this Strawberry something.
An eye will be on the Banana Split next time — All things considered, it’s a respectable deal!
Be sure to mark your calendar to try the Hof’s Hut Restaurant & Bakery 60th Anniversary Burger scheduled to be available this September. It’s called the Fancy Smancy Steakhouse Burger and it is damn tasty, if I do say so myself – It’s so tasty in fact, I won a fancy smancy (aka schmancy) Jenn-Air BBQ Grill (below) for creating it. Thank you Hof’s Hut and Happy Anniversary to such a fine establishment. See you soon…