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DINING | Featured restaurant reviews

Reviews

Stories 1 to 5 of 37

Main Course: Brü Grill & Market

Yelp reviews are reliably capricious, but I do read my fair share and know how to quickly sift the shills from the sincere. It’s a cinch, really. But Lake Forest’s Brü Grill & Market had me stumped. For months, reactions whipsawed between disdain and delight. Once executive chef Adam Deschambault, previously of Anaheim’s Bar Louie, outlasted the first two, Tripp Mauldin and Joseph Gotti, the warm-up period was over.  Now, after nearly a year, it’s time to check out this ambitious indie that dares to elbow in on the turf of nearby suburban darlings such as Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que and ... Read more

Main Course: Dublin 4 Gastropub

Orange County’s Irish pubs tend toward the cliche: shots of Jameson, pints of Guinness, lardy chow, and a reliable dose of drunken cheer, or melancholy, depending on the crowd. The formula is past due for an upgrade—the kind you’ll find at Dublin 4. Freeway-adjacent in Mission Viejo, the upstart gastropub hides in plain sight, squeezed into a small retail nook that includes its wine-bar sibling, Wineworks for Everyone. Blink and you’ll miss the driveway, but it’s well worth the U-turn to enter the convivial and civilized haven that awaits. An etched-glass partition funnels you into a dapper main room flanked by ... Read more

Main Course: Mare Culinary Lounge

There’s a tequila sunset in progress over Laguna Beach, but only a few steps into Mare Culinary Lounge on busy Coast Highway, it’s dark and moody. Sleek with black and gray glass tiles, the walls shimmer where they catch glints of cobalt blue that glows from beneath the bar. Silent, sepia film footage of elephants, foreign seashores, and a shirtless, barefoot boy flicker on one wall, projected from an unseen source. The enigmatic aura is a stark departure from the funky, beachy scene outside. Before our irises can adjust to the shadowy surroundings, a gracious waiter suggests we sit anywhere. ... Read more

Main Course: Juliette Kitchen & Bar

Every neighborhood deserves a casual, accessible haunt where food is king, wine is queen, and prices are fair. Newport Beach’s new Juliette Kitchen & Bar is a fine example of such a place. I blame our rambling, freeway-laced geography for the rarity of unfussy indies with clued-in cuisine. Unlike those in Chicago or San Francisco, nearly every good restaurant in O.C. requires a drive, and simply can’t survive on business generated by diners within walking distance. It’s a defining reality that makes a newbie such as Juliette shine all the brighter. Open since July in the longtime digs of Tradition ... Read more

Main Course: Bistro Bleu

It’s been a long time since a folksy, value-priced French bistro opened in these parts. And though it was sad to bid au revoir to Cafe Francais, Le Biarritz, and LaFayette, the April birth of west Anaheim’s Bistro Bleu is a blessing for Francophiles who yearn for another addition to a lean family of options. Chef-owner David Kesler is the hero in this story. In a  shopping center with a ragged bodega and no-frills Zumba studio in an unglamorous part of town, he and wife Pamela saw blue skies in the weary ruins of a defunct pizza joint. Kesler, a veteran ... Read more

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