Orange County Restaurant Week launches this Saturday, March 5, and runs through March 11. The prix fixe menus of $10, $15, and $20 per person for lunch, and $20-and-up for dinner is a fabulous way to experience the variety of culinary skills and experiences of our many talented chefs across Orange County. Assuming the quality of the food, I always want to know if I can enjoy it with a good (at least palatable) wine as well. So, I went a-digging on the ocrestaurantweek.com website. Under the Tips page, participating restaurants are grouped into categories such as Menus with Girl Scout Cookie-Inspired Desserts (huh?) and Dining with a View. I found my link—Restaurant Menus with Special Beverage Options.
At this stage of my drinking and dining career, if I’m paying $80 for a prix fixe menu, I don’t want the pairing of a “house wine.” If a restaurant can describe in detail the style of beef and its origins on a menu, then the wine is worthy of a specific brand name and varietal. With that said, of the 60 or so restaurants that do offer a special beverage option during Orange County Restaurant Week, only a handful specifically state their wine pairings. These restaurants stood out in the crowd for me for their thoughtful wine experiences during this special week. Here are a few of them:
Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana, Irvine
– Tuscan Nozzole chardonnay for lunch or Michele Chiarlo barbera for dinner, for $8 a glass
AnQi, Costa Mesa
– This $80 four-course dinner and dessert has specific pairings for each course, which include the Davis Bynum pinot noir and Pio Cesare moscato. The wine appears to be included in the set price, but be sure and ask when making reservations.
Selanne Steak Tavern, Laguna Beach
– The three-course menu offers a wine pairing CHOICE at each course for $80. Highlights include a Michael Mondavi Oberon chardonnay and 2012 Chateau Pineau du Rey sauternes. When reserving your table, double-check that the wine is included in the dinner price.
Splashes, Laguna Beach
– Both lunch and dinner prix fixe menus are laid out with a specific wine pairing at each course. Wine at lunch is either $12 or $14 per glass while pairing the entire dinner is an additional $25. The choices are nice, such as a Talbott Kali Hart pinot noir, Red Tail Ridge riesling, and Quinto do Noval port.