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In Newport Beach for a couple of days...


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Hi everyone, I'm in Newport Beach on business for a few days and was looking for a good place to do dinner tonight and tomorrow? Something casual but good. I'm down from Silicon Valley, and basically just have a pair of jeans and polo shirts. So nothing that would require nicer clothes than that. :-) Any suggestions are most welcome! Cheers :-)

WhizWit.net -- My blog on Food, Life, and Politics
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You might get away with California casual at this place: Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis in Dana Point. It's one of Michael Mina's newer restaurants. I think you can have dinner over at the bar area.

http://www.michaelmina.net/stonehill_tavern/index.html

LA Times food critic S. Irene Virbila gave it a three-star review. I've never been there.

Personally, I think you can get away with wearing "California casual" just about anywhere in Southern California. Just let the credit cards flow ... :wink::wink:

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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In Laguna Beach, there is The Loft at the Montage Resort. We dined at The Studio on Tues. night which was amazing, it is more formal than The Loft. If you've never been to the Montage, it's quite stunning. There is a piano player (Steve Siu) who plays there and is quite good.

I'll post a full review on our meal at The Studio later. :cool:

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Stonehill and Studio are both amazing, but I would never categorize them as "casual". I guess "casual" can be a subjective term, but these two are more on the high-end of things and Stonehill in particular, in my opinion after dining there more than six times, is the nicest restaurant in all of Orange County. Plus, neither are actually in Newport Beach, but rather 25 minutes south in general PCH traffic conditions in the city of Dana Point/Monarch Beach.

If you want super casual and you want to actually stay in Newport Beach, Crab Cooker is a classic Newport Beach institution on the Peninsula at 23rd Street. It's very old and very old school. Expect draft beers to be served in paper cups and your king crab legs to come on paper plates. You'll also find The Cannery on the Peninsula just a couple of blocks from the Crab Cooker location.

Off the Peninsula but still in Newport Beach is Bayside. Paul Gstrein has been cooking in Orange County seemingly forever and he's maintained great quality at Bayside and Bistango in Irvine. Try the Spaetzle.

Adjacent Newport Beach is Costa Mesa where there are a lot of smaller restaurants you might choose from. Zipangu is interesting Japanese small plates and sushi.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I will second the notion about Stonehill and Studio not being casual restaurants, they are superlative but I wouldn't call them "casual"

Blue Coral is located in Fashion Island and is excellent. It is a new fish house done by the same group that owns Flemings. I think it borders on casual amd is very good. Bayside is a good reccomendation as well, I think it is one of the more underrated places around. Muldoons is an Irish pub near fashion island and has excellent food as well.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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If you want super casual and you want to actually stay in Newport Beach, Crab Cooker is a classic Newport Beach institution on the Peninsula at 23rd Street.  It's very old and very old school.  Expect draft beers to be served in paper cups and your king crab legs to come on paper plates.  You'll also find The Cannery on the Peninsula just a couple of blocks from the Crab Cooker location. 

I was born and raised in Tustin and the Crab Cooker was always one of those occasional family treats when I was a kid (30+ years ago). It was a still a treat when I would visit occasionally half-a-dozen years ago -- sort of a time portal in the grand days of family dining where waiting a long time for a table is required but a great way to meet other people. Love their clam chowder and used to buy the smoked albacore as a take-home treat. Must have the potatoes with melted cheese and was one of the few cole slaws I could abide!

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I am sorry. I happen to think that the Crab Cooker is overrated. I have tried that restaurant once, and it was quite a while back. Having passed by the restaurant many times and seeing long lines, we thought it must be a "good deal". The waiting was long, the atmosphere was casual at best (plastic cups for soda and paper napkin). The service was casual-friendly. The price was relatively high and the food was only mediocre. Really, how hard is it to boil a crab and melt some butter? And no view.

I think that for the money (actually paying 50% less), I would rather go to Ruby's on Balboa Pier. At least I can have an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I am sorry.  I happen to think that the Crab Cooker is overrated.  I have tried that restaurant once, and it was quite a while back.  Having passed by the restaurant many times and seeing long lines, we thought it must be a "good deal".  The waiting was long, the atmosphere was casual at best (plastic cups for soda and paper napkin).  The service was casual-friendly.  The price was relatively high and the food was only mediocre.  Really, how hard is it to boil a crab and melt some butter?  And no view.

I think that for the money (actually paying 50% less), I would rather go to Ruby's on Balboa Pier.  At least I can have an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean.

I totally agree with you. I remember stopping by the Crab Cooker as a kid with my parents after a long day at the beach. Highlight for me back then was probably the soda crackers! I recently went back and, nostalgia points aside, was terribly disappointed. Overpriced, bland food. And I wasn't even expecting much.

Ruby's has also taken over the Crystal Cove Shake Shack (for better or worse); I'd eat there anyday over CC. Great setting, too.

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I never said Crab Cooker was amazing, but it is a classic joint that's been in the heart of Newport Beach forever. The pricing is fair and the food is decent. Yes it's simple and straightforward (potatoes baked off on sheet pans with cheese and simply-grilled fish with lemon and cayenne). It's nothing groundbreaking, but what it offers is quintessential Newport Beach dining smack dab across from the Newport Pier.

Ruby's? Seriously?

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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