How did a 92-year-old Newport Beach legend become a sexy, luscious dazzler almost overnight? Book a waterside table at The Cannery and find out when you sample the transformative cooking of new executive chef Nick Weber, who navigates the landmark’s seafood-centric cuisine with confidence and imagination. Weber has been at the helm since fall, and the sweeping abalone-to-venison menu now is all his creation.
Tasty clues such as the onion-chorizo sofrito perfuming the lush steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, or the Normandy butter risotto with black truffles beneath the fillet of fresh halibut, point to Weber’s long stint with Patina Group’s Catal and Pinot Provence. Scallop carpaccio is a bewitching parade of nuances—crunchy peanuts, cool cucumber sorbet, sassy radishes, and zingy yellow-pepper vinaigrette—each chosen to flatter the ivory slices of sweet raw mollusk. Some dishes don’t need seafood to seduce: sweet, soft piquillo peppers oozing creamy goat cheese is a case in point. Its lavish, riotous garnish of pine nuts, golden raisins, and pearls of encapsulated balsamic vinegar ensure no two bites are alike. Solid technique allows Weber to ace tricky mashups such as diver scallop and suckling pig with smoked pork jus.
Select “legacy” dishes survive, so loyalists can still feast on crab legs and the Balboa Sundae. But follow Weber through dessert: His Balboa Sundae 2.0 with pistachio crumble, Ovaltine fudge, and brandy-soaked cherry sauce will leave you planning your next visit.
Best New Dishes
Scallop carpaccio, piquillo peppers, Prince Edward Island mussels, fresh halibut, diver scallop and suckling pig, Balboa Sundae 2.0.
Not game for fish?
Choose the killer bacon-wrapped venison with red quinoa and dried cherries.
Happy Hour at the Jellyfish Lounge endures as a top spot for sushi and sting-free prices on drinks and appetizers; 4 to 6 p.m. daily.
3010 Lafayette Road, Newport Beach, 949-566-0060, cannerynewport.com
Photographs by Priscilla Iessi
This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.