Dining | Orange Coast Magazine
 

Second Course: The Bungalow

I’m at The Bungalow, and it’s teeming with men. Where are the ladies who lunch? Now that Corona del Mar’s dinner-house darling serves midday fare after 19 years of pampering its steak-and-martini fans, I assumed the early adopters would be the coastal enclave’s sisters of leisure. Instead, I sit near a table of eight nobly retired gents chattering about golf clubs and bespoke Alaskan fishing trips as they dive into plump burgers, steak salads, and iced teas. Read more...

Second Course: A Restaurant

For a few moments, I am bat-blind and loving it. Ducking into dark A Restaurant on a sunny afternoon, my brain perceives this as “retro delights ahead.” The dapper old-school haunt is waking up after a lull, thanks to fresh momentum supplied by a reshuffled team that includes managing partners Doug and Julie Garn, and pastry chef Tara Bui. Longtime executive chef Jon Blackford is feelin’ it too, as his appealing new menu pushes American classics to the next level, for some of his best cooking ever. Read more...

Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking

Ritter’s boxy glass storefront gives no hint of the olfactory whoosh that overwhelms once the door to this yearling cafe opens. Intense aromas of garlic and the Cajun-Creole holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper startle sinuses and reflexively arouse hunger. Read more...

Taco Maria

Sitting at Taco Maria’s kitchen counter, I’m mesmerized by a flurry of mise en place action that’s intense and hushed. A blossom plucked here, a radish shaved there, steamy broth ladled as if it were holy water. Clearly my four-course prix fixe dinner is painstaking business. Each dish is a marvel of deeply considered modern Cal-Mex cuisine from chef-owner and O.C native Carlos Salgado. Even the stripped-down setting feels designed to direct all attention to the food. Read more...

Rediscovery: Chapter One

Clearly, executive chef Jason Montelibano has upped the culinary content at Chapter One, the sociable gastropub in the Santa Ana Artists Village: pastel topknots of chilled smoked salmon on just-fried potato croquettes; walnut vinaigrette, fried carrots, baby kale, and drool-worthy Soledad Goats goat cheese in a roasted beet garden plate. Read more...

Selanne Steak Tavern's On-Staff Sommelier and Wine Selection Impress

Selanne Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach is one of the few Orange County restaurants with an on-staff sommelier, and how lucky they are to have Vito Pasquale, a Level 2 Sommelier certified by the Guild of Sommeliers. Vito is an impressive young man with a distinguished and professional air, yet still very cordial and freely conversant and enthusiastic about wine. His presence immediately signals that you are in capable hands. Read more...

Main Course Review: C4 Deli and Provisions Market

Is there anything less faddy than a delicatessen? The form might vary—chockablock ethnic, sandwich emporium, or comfort-food canteen—but all of O.C.’s models are cherished and long-lived. So when two new ones appear within four miles of each other, both in revitalized city centers, they warrant test drives. Read more...

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Offers Impressive Wine List

I recently dined at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill in South Coast Plaza, and found the wine program to be exceptional, both for the scope of its extensive wine list, and it’s attentive wine service. It’s gratifying to see that the restaurant, which promotes a healthy diet and prides itself in seasonally inspired cooking with every item on the menu less than 475 calories, considers wine an important part of a wholesome lifestyle. Read more...

Rediscovery: Bayside

Bayside may be a teenager, but thanks to a glamorous makeover, the harbor-side venue is skipping over those awkward years with élan to spare. Long-favored by the coastal set for jazzy brunches, exec lunching, and VIP feasts, the 246-seat scene radiates fresh energy that complements the classy update. Read more...

Vine in San Clemente: How'd It Fare in Orange Coast's First-Ever Wine Review?

Editor’s Note: Starting this month, Rusty Gaffney, one half of Orange Coast’s Wine Dudes blog, will critique the wine program of an Orange County restaurant reviewed in print each month by the magazine’s dining critic Gretchen Kurz. He’ll use the same star system as Kurz’s restaurant reviews (using wine bottles in place of stars) to denote whether the program is (1) Good, (2) Very Good, (3) Excellent, or (4) Outstanding on every level. He’ll also denote pricing: $ mostly under $24; $$, under $50; $$$, $50 and over. Following is his wine review of Vine Restaurant in San Clemente. Read more...
 
 
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