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Costa Mesa Dining


lucylou95816
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I am going to be in Costa Mesa in a couple of weeks, and I am looking for a good place to eat. I believe we're staying at the Hilton, and won't have a car. Any ideas you can pass along would be wonderful...Price range about $50/person or so. Thanks.

edited to correct hotel location

Edited by lucylou95816 (log)
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Bare in mind, I moved out of OC in 1998 so these recommendations could be WAY out of date:

Pinot Provence by Joachim Splichal (Patina) is decent, and you could probably walk there. Many people rave about Troquet or Aubergine, I was never imrpessed.

Although I'd take a cab for some great Chinese food.

A&J Restaurant in Irvine for Taiwanese small eats.

Sam Woo in Irvine for Hong Kong style Chinese. ( I think there is a small scale Sam Woo in Metro Town, but I haven't been)

Mandarin Restaurant in Fountain Valley for mandarin fare.

Mas' Islamic in Anaheim for Islamic Chinese.

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Bare in mind, I moved out of OC in 1998 so these recommendations could be WAY out of date:

Pinot Provence by Joachim Splichal (Patina) is decent, and you could probably walk there. Many people rave about Troquet or Aubergine, I was never imrpessed.

Although I'd take a cab for some great Chinese food.

A&J Restaurant in Irvine for Taiwanese small eats.

Sam Woo in Irvine for Hong Kong style Chinese. ( I think there is a small scale Sam Woo in Metro Town, but I haven't been)

Mandarin Restaurant in Fountain Valley for mandarin fare.

Mas' Islamic in Anaheim for Islamic Chinese.

Thanks for the rec's...I'll look them up.

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Not sure when you'll be here, but Slow Food OC is having their very first event on Feb. 1:

Orange County Event: Italian Food Fair

    Slow Food Orange County, Slow Food's most recent convivium, is hosting its (redacted). Come join us for an Italian Food Fair on February 1 at Onotria Wine Country Cuisine. This educational event will focus on the specialty foods that make Italian cooking so unique, such as wine, cheese, cured meats, balsamic vinegars and coffee. Master Chef Massimo Navarretta will hand prepare traditional dishes to accompany the various food stations.

    The Food Fair will run from 6:30pm – 9:00pm. Onotria is located at 2831 Bristol Street in Costa Mesa. Phone: 714.641.5952. The cost is $50 for Slow Food members, $60 for nonmembers.

    For more information, email Kim at slowfoodoc@yahoo.com. For payments, call Delilah at The Road Less Traveled, 714.836.8727.

I hope to be there!!

Deb

Liberty, MO

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Not sure when you'll be here, but Slow Food OC is having their very first event on Feb. 1:
Orange County Event: Italian Food Fair

    Slow Food Orange County, Slow Food's most recent convivium, is hosting its (redacted). Come join us for an Italian Food Fair on February 1 at Onotria Wine Country Cuisine. This educational event will focus on the specialty foods that make Italian cooking so unique, such as wine, cheese, cured meats, balsamic vinegars and coffee. Master Chef Massimo Navarretta will hand prepare traditional dishes to accompany the various food stations.

    The Food Fair will run from 6:30pm – 9:00pm. Onotria is located at 2831 Bristol Street in Costa Mesa. Phone: 714.641.5952. The cost is $50 for Slow Food members, $60 for nonmembers.

    For more information, email Kim at slowfoodoc@yahoo.com. For payments, call Delilah at The Road Less Traveled, 714.836.8727.

I hope to be there!!

Oh bummer..I am going to be there Feb 5-7th. That sounds like fun.

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Some quick recs in the area.....

Zipangu - Japaneese/sushi

Habana Cafe-Cuban, cool atmosphere

Memphis-hipster atmosphere, good southern food, good bar.

Mitae Ramen-Hole in the wall, great ramen

Scott's Seafood-Great steak/seafood near the theatre

Tummy stuffer-good sandwiches

Wahoo's-great fresh mexican, a socal classic

TK Burger-delicious burger shack

I'll think of some more....enjoy!

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

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Some quick recs in the area.....

Zipangu - Japaneese/sushi

Habana Cafe-Cuban, cool atmosphere

Memphis-hipster atmosphere, good southern food, good bar.

Mitae Ramen-Hole in the wall, great ramen

Scott's Seafood-Great steak/seafood near the theatre

Tummy stuffer-good sandwiches

Wahoo's-great fresh mexican, a socal classic

TK Burger-delicious burger shack

I'll think of some more....enjoy!

Thanks for the great ideas! If you know some kinds of fine dining that would be great too.

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Fine Dining, lets see..

Troquet is right near there, Scott's is what could be considered fine dining I think. There is also a Morton's steakhouse.

One place that I absolutely love is called AIRe global cuisine, really great place, I wouldnt say its fine dining, but it is nice, and a very hip spot and vibe. Very interesting small plates menu.

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

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I think we're officially "regulars" at Pinot and I absolutely love it. The Westin lobby location is a bit weird, but we just sit at the bar with our very good buddy and favorite bartender Shawn. Great house dishes include the Tuna Tartare with Mustard Cream, Pomme Frites, and Truffles, and the Rosemary Roasted Lamb Loin with Gruyere Potato. We love the staff there. Friendly, sarcastic, very relaxed, and quirky senses of humor. The chef is really the star though and delivers amazing stuff. The food is consistent and you would be hard-pressed to have a bad meal there. When I noted to him how much I loved the Sweetbreads with Curry, Almond and Cauliflower dish that is no longer featured on the menu, he told me to email him directly next time I'm heading in and he would make it special for me. That's class. Have a nice Armagnac for dessert from their deep selection.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I really appreciate it. I knew that egullet wouldn't let me down. I forwarded the Pinot menu to my co-worker, and I think we'll try that. I'll be sure to report back and let you know what we thought. Thanks again everyone! :biggrin:

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Without a car it would be a little difficult. But I think you can take the cab and it wouldn't be too bad.

As mentioned upthread, there's "Scott's Seafood" right on Bristol near Anton Blvd. It is supposed to be a high-end seafood restaurant though I haven't tried it.

What I really like, though, is "Prego Restaurante". It is an Italian restaurant inside the Koll's Center (it's a business complex). It is on the other side of John Wayne Airport going from Hilton Hotel. Not that far, though, only a mile or two.

Prego Ristorante

18420 Von Karman Ave , Irvine 92612

949-553-1333

I used to work in that business complex so I had many business lunches there. I love that place. Great food, great service. Entrees are from US$15 to $25 or so. With drinks, appetizer, soup or other stuff, $50PP for dinner would probably be about right.

There is Il Fornaio across Von Karman, which is also an up-scale Italian restaurant. Il Fornaio has many locations. But there is only one Prego as far as I know. If you think Il Fornaio is good, I think Prego is even better.

There is also a less formal "Daily Grill" on Jamboree and about Dupont. I like their country style cooking (Chicken pot pie, meat loaf and such). The lemonaid there is the best.

There are also a bunch of good restaurants at Michaelson Dr and Jamboree. I can't remember all their names now but some are pretty good too.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Scott's, nearly next door to Pinot on Anton at Bristol, is also a nice choice. We're regulars there as well and as with Pinot, we basically just sit at the bar and shoot the breeze with their friendly bartending staff. Even though it's known as a seafood restaurant, their steaks are actually the surprising star of the menu. Though I don't think it's listed, ask for the bone-in NY Strip (Delmonico cut). It's the way to go. Scott's is also well known for their calamari, which, after frying, is sauteed with lemon, parsley, tomato, and garlic. They call it "Provencal" style and it's absolutely delicious, especially with a crisp draft beer or a frosty vodka martini rimmed with ice shards.

I heard Aire closed down? I don't have direct confirmation on that though. I thought the ambience was fantastic and the elevated DJ booth is a nice touch, especially since the music is so vibey there. The small dishes we've had though left a lot to be desired. They have a deep wines by the glass list with a lot of international flare, so that might make up a bit for the thin sauces, underseasoned food, and sloppy execution that has been our experience twice in a row. Also, and it's just a personal quirk, but I absolutely hate the use of ajectives on a menu. It seems cheesy, like something you might see at Applebee's or Chile's. Words like "awesome" just shouldn't be on any serious menu. I give Aire a B-/C+ but that's just me.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I heard Aire closed down?  I don't have direct confirmation on that though.  I thought the ambience was fantastic and the elevated DJ booth is a nice touch, especially since the music is so vibey there.  The small dishes we've had though left a lot to be desired.  They have a deep wines by the glass list with a lot of international flare, so that might make up a bit for the thin sauces, underseasoned food, and sloppy execution that has been our experience twice in a row.  Also, and it's just a personal quirk, but I absolutely hate the use of ajectives on a menu.  It seems cheesy, like something you might see at Applebee's or Chile's. Words like "awesome" just shouldn't be on any serious menu.  I give Aire a B-/C+ but that's just me.

Aire closed down?? Wow, I'll have to investigate that. I hope this is not the case, this will be strike number two for the owner Mike and Chef Tony as they came from another place that closed down, Svelte in Corona Del Mar, which was also a favorite of mine. Both are very nice people and I think have good vision.

I forgot to mention their wine list, i found it to be great, with a bunch of good moderately priced selections.

I had one experience out of three where the food was mediocre, but i passed it off as a bad night.

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

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The potential for Aire, I thought, is great. The concept is good and hip urban dining is sorely lacking in Orange County. Costa Mesa is our home-town so I always root for restaurants in the area. I just think the menu needs work and a good chef buddy of mine went and we had the same critiques and hopes. I think if the chef just paired the menu down a bit and focused on the restaurant-making dishes, they could do a lot better with the full package. The Lodge, the former tenants, started strong and I had high hopes for them but they just fizzled out and the service became the worst in the entire area. Maybe Aire will focus in a little and tighten the menu up and become a great, long-standing local favorite.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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So I was definitely wrong and completely off base thinking Aire had closed. I guess I'll chalk that up to a bad rumor. Robert Whitesall, my chef buddy from Picnics in Costa Mesa and formerly at Boulevard in San Francisco, went again to Aire and sung praises for the food at the wine dinner he recently attended. I'll head back and try them out again.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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In today's edition of the LA Times Food Section (7 Feb. 2007), S. Irene Virbila reviewed Leatherby's Cafe Rouge, ... this new restaurant from the Patina Group, which owns Pinot Provence around the corner:

... the chef, Mark Gold, who most recently ran the kitchen at Cafe Pinot downtown, is turning out some terrific food — well worth a detour whether or not you're attending a performance at the arts center. Who knew he could cook like this? The California-French fare he produced at Cafe Pinot was fine for that downtown spot, but what he's doing at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge (hereafter referred to as Cafe Rouge) is stronger and more original ...

Bottom line, Irene gave this place a three-star review.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Thanks again to those of you that recommended Pinot Provance. We ate there on Tuesday night, and was a wonderful wonderful meal. The service was fantastic, as there ended up being 9 of us, they put us in the this little back room, which was very nice. I tried their escargot for the first time in my life, and while I was expecting it to be very chewy and rubbery, it was wonderfully tender and quite tasty.

My dining guests also thank you too. I knew that egullet wouldn't let me down!

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I'm glad you enjoyed it! Was the escargot served with a basil pistou in a light tomato broth? I think that's the last preparation I had from them a few months ago. Were there any other highlights from the meal? We're eating there Friday night as a matter of fact.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I just returned from my daily Kean coffee and read the Times review on Cafe Rouge. It's funny they pointed out the seasonality choice of the tomato salad given that we're in the middle of Winter. What's interesting is that is the very same conversation I had with Cafe Rouge's Chef while dining late evening at Pinot in November. A very raucous Cafe Rouge kitchen and front-house crowd dined at the Pinot Provence bar after their shift. The Chef was, how do I say . . . kind of a character! He and I were busting each other's balls a bit over his choice of peas and tomatoes in the middle of November, even as I shared my over-the-hill but still charming 1984 Echezeaux with him.

Side note: apparently the Pinot staff didn't care too much for the kitchen crew's behavior that night. They were boisterous and dined at the bar in their chef's gear (minus coats). The next time we dined most of our dinner was taken care of by the restaurant and they apologized to us for having to deal with the Cafe Rouge crew. I never really thought anything of it even though it was obvious they were indeed a bit over the top for a nice restaurant. It was late though and I enjoyed the comedy. The management staff for the Patina Group didn't think it was very funny though and apparently it was the subject of a very serious meeting the next day.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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