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.
The lunch menu, loaded with hearty salads and sandwiches, befits the daylight premiere for this upmarket surf-and-turf mainstay. The nine salads cover familiar territory—grilled lime chicken, steak slices over baby spinach, and a Cobb inspired by the Brown Derby original. The house salad of bay shrimp, hearts of palm, feta, and green goddess dressing is well-executed and will nicely serve two before a round of signature sandwiches.
Feisty horseradish spread flatters an old-school beef dip with a cup of steaming au jus, and its pile of shoestring fries borders on habit-forming. Six ounces of Prime fillet, medium-rare, is the marquee beef on an open-faced steak sandwich showered with freshly fried onion strings. Exceptions to the carnivore code include au courant fare: pan-seared salmon lettuce wraps with sesame-soy aioli, and local halibut fish tacos. Two strengths seamlessly carried over from dinner are careful execution in the kitchen, and polished service. Given the hush-hush rollout of lunch, the charming rear patio is sure to buzz with both men and women after this inaugural summer.
Cobb salad, house salad, beef dip sandwich, steak sandwich, halibut fish tacos
11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday
2441 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949-673-6585
Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue.