Dining | Orange Coast Magazine
 

Main Course: Reunion Kitchen + Drink

It sure stings when a prized neighborhood hang closes. After Rich Mead’s Canyon Restaurant shuttered last fall, the vacancy grew more irksome with each passing week. By the time Reunion Kitchen Drink took over in December, my melancholy advanced to full-blown cynicism. So I expect my first visit to be bittersweet at best. But, after one sip at the very busy bar, I’m unexpectedly impressed. My lower Manhattan—a well-stirred mix of rye and bitters—comes with an ice sphere, drunken cherry, and canny repartee from the bartender. My pal’s bloody mary is aggressively spicy, and sports a bacon-wrapped jalapeno and a Slim Jim baton. Wow, this is a bar transformation, a marked upgrade in skills, ingredients, and attitude. Read more...

Main Course: Red O

Many of us are familiar with Bayless, especially food freaks like me. We’ve been eating at his Chicago restaurants, reading his cookbooks, and seeing his mustachioed grin on TV for decades. A tireless booster of authentic Mexican cuisine and a nimble self-promoter, Bayless now is out to conquer Orange County with the snazzy Red O, open since November at Fashion Island. Read more...

Little Sparrow has a Little Gem of a Wine List

In April, Little Sparrow Café was named Restaurant of the Year by Orange Coast, and on May 21, it celebrated its first anniversary. The restaurant’s cocktail lounge is highly popular and its cocktails are spotlighted on the website, but it’s the wine list that catches my eye. At the restaurant, several bottles are displayed prominently in the dining room, to encourage diners to explore the eclectic list. Read more...

Main Course: Fig & Olive

Don’t be fooled by the austere facade of Fig & Olive. Those tall front doors open to a sprawling wonderland that channels the sun-soaked luxury of the French Riviera. Fashion Island supplies the pricey real estate; architects and landscapers the limestone and olive trees; and nature the endless sunshine and sea-scented breezes. Voila—Cannes by way of Newport Beach. Read more...

Main Course: Selanne Steak Tavern

Climbing the brick path to the front door of Selanne Steak Tavern’s storybook cottage, I’m thinking this landmark 1934 venue looks identical to the old French 75 it replaces. I tug the wood door open by its iron handle, and bam! Like Dorothy’s exit from her sepia Kansas farmhouse into vivid Munchkinland, the scene before me is a vast new world. Read more...

Main Course: Rancho Santa Margarita's The Blind Pig

The slender brunette slams shut her textbook as soon as she sees us step through the front door. She leads us to a cushy half-round banquette lining the roomy bay window at the rear of the tavern. It’s dark out, so the window reflects the room’s multiple flat screens and its handful of patrons. Read more...

Main Course: Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern

Serial restaurateur David Wilhelm is legendary for creating and extinguishing more dining hot spots in O.C. than any hospitality veteran still on the scene. After a long hiatus, he’s back in a typically bold way with the whopping Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern overlooking Dana Point Harbor. Read more...

Fashion Island Newbie is Plenty Satisfying, But Doesn’t Surprise

She sits quietly at a table for two at the front window, only a glass of water before her. Not even a menu. After 20 minutes, my tablemate spots a solo male, looking bemused, at a table in the back of the 220-seat space. Eventually, the two singles find each other and share a meal. Read more...

Main Course: Little Sparrow

As I dig in to my latest meal at Santa Ana’s Little Sparrow, a loop of the ’60s E-chord surf tune won’t leave my head. A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word. I chalk it up to dizzy relief. It’s been some time since a new restaurant has wowed me three times in a row. The bloody mary is superb, and I’ve had only one—I swear. Read more...

Dining Deconstruction: Smoked Duck Fries

The idea of value-added frites, either a descendant of SoCal carne asada fries or a riff on Canada’s gravy-topped poutines, might be one of the best craft beer or cocktail go-withs ever. This version from DivBar, on the Newport Beach waterfront, gilds the already-rich frites with sumptuous smoked duck. $9 Read more...
 
 
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