O.C.’s Best Sunday Suppers

Many local chefs are whipping up special meals for the end-of-the-weekend crowd

While Fridays and Saturdays are the designated nights to dine out, Sunday provides a decidedly less hectic experience. And many O.C. chefs offer a special menu you won’t get any other day of the week. Here are our five picks for relaxed yet exceptional Sunday dinners in Orange County, perfect for a family gathering or leisurely date.

1 Watertable
Prepare to feast on the multi-course menu offered at this resort restaurant. Start with a basket of warm and crisp aged manchego cheese and garlic biscuits; slather them with the accompanying piquillo pepper butter. Family-style servings of deviled eggs and a green salad are brought to the table, along with two seasonal varieties
of vegetables and a starch of choice per person, from mac ’n’ cheese to sweet potato cubes roasted in hazelnut oil. Expect a choice of entrees such as free-range chicken potpie, slow-roasted pork loin with spiced apple butter, or herb-grilled baby lamb chops. Don’t miss the elegant, pan-roasted branzino. Stuffed with lemon, fennel, and thyme, the skin is perfectly crisp and the fish buttery and silky. To finish, we love the triple chocolate cream puff filled with a dark chocolate mousse and enrobed in a pool of rich mocha ganache. Crushed marcona almonds add a terrific, salty crunch. $38 to $42 per person. At the Hyatt Regency, 21500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 714-845-4776, watertablehb.com

2 Fleming’s
This fine-dining steakhouse boasts a hefty deal on Sundays: a full prime rib dinner for less than $50. It’s a hulking serving of carved prime rib with a trio of sauces. You’ll have a choice of three salads, but you can’t beat Fleming’s wedge salad with crispy onions, caramelized bacon, and blue cheese crumbles. Choose from side dishes including the classic baked potato, truffle mashed potatoes, fries, onion rings, mac ’n’ cheese, sautéed mushrooms, creamed spinach, and grilled asparagus. Go for the house specialty potatoes with cream, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese. End with the house-made carrot cake or try the berries with Chantilly cream. $42 per person. 455 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949-720-9633, flemingssteakhouse.com

3 Three Seventy Common
Although chef Ryan Adams’ beloved weekly Sunday Social dinners have ended, there’s one consolation: On the last Sunday of the month, he offers a can’t-miss, family-style Fried Chicken Night. We’re talking a bucket of juicy, golden-fried chicken and the traditional Southern sides such as green beans, pork belly braised greens with chiles, coleslaw, and creamy home-style mashed potatoes with a rich gravy made with from-scratch chicken stock. Keep an eye out for cornbread with caramelized onions and flecks of sea salt. $39 for adults, $20 for kids. 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, 949-494-8686, 370common.com

4 Playground
What’s on the menu at this ultra-popular Sunday Supper? Chef Jason Quinn says there’s just no telling. You’re at the mercy of the kitchen’s whims, but you can bet it’s whatever’s in season. Recent Sunday Suppers have run the gamut from fried chicken, braised short ribs, and maple-glazed pork chops to Jalapeno cornbread, fried cauliflower, scallop ceviche, and black fig sticky toffee pudding. Expect a dizzying array of 12 to 15 courses, all served family-style. Alas, due to the willy-nilly nature of Playground’s Sunday Suppers, those with dietary restrictions and severe allergies should probably pass. $40 per person. 220 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, 714-560-4444, playgrounddtsa.com

5 Al Forno Caffe
Looking for comfort food? It doesn’t get more homey than endless pasta with a sauce that has gently cooked for hours. General manager Ali Kihanmahd brought that longstanding East Coast tradition to this unpretentious Italian gem. Al Forno’s special Sunday sauce is chock-full of tomatoes, pork sausage, lamb meatballs, and pork shoulder, all simmered for no less than 13 hours for a rich and hearty gravy to top all the rigatoni you can handle. $15 per person. 1525 Mesa Verde, Costa Mesa, 657-232-0100, alfornocaffe.com

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