Fusion of the Minds

In my foolish youth, it was an unsaid rule that I never ordered fish. (This, of course, excluded lox and salmon sashimi–I never said it was a rule that made sense). Most restaurants where I dined back then served fish simply fried or just plain overcooked to the point of no recognition. Dry, flaky and too fishy–that was how I…

Never Forget Paris

Flaky puff pastry snaps between your teeth as creamy vanilla custard engulfed between each layer jubilantly squishes out. This divine creation is the mille-feuille, better known as the Napoleon, at Moulin in Newport Beach. The quintessentially French dessert is not only delicious but also extremely fitting once you learn that Moulin’s owner Laurent Vrignaud was raised in Montmarte, Paris. Each…

Home 
Sweet 
Home

The cicadas’ song echoes through the trees that dot the grounds surrounding Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens. Perched above the winding paths lined with lush plants, colorful flowers and stone fountains, sits a wooden restaurant helmed by chef Richard Mead. For locals, the name should be familiar. Chef Mead owned two celebrated eateries called Sage–one in Newport Beach and the other…

Island Time

Time seems to stand still as soon as you cross the bridge onto Balboa Island. The buildings, which seem to have stood the test of time, look exactly the same as they did a decade ago. The streets are small and narrow. And, many of the businesses have been landmarks on Balboa for generations. So, when a newcomer opens shop…

New Beginnings

Crunch! The grilled bread crackles between my teeth. The toast’s charred exterior gives way to a springy sourdough center. Served beside it are succulent pieces of uni bursting with the essence of Santa Barbara’s salty ocean waters. For this starter, each diner is in charge of constructing his or her perfect bite. We take turns slathering the scorching hot bone…

Extending an Olive Branch

Fashion Island celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. The open-air shopping center houses high-end boutiques and department stores. But, the real draw these days are the impressive array of restaurants housed within it. A diner can easily travel the world without leaving Newport Beach’s borders. A jaunt to Japan with an omakase at Sushi Roku, a taste of Mexico a…

Hooked Up

Chef Andy Ardnt began overseeing the kitchens at Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa two years ago. “Back then we started implementing a few changes, but now we’re concentrating on a fully sustainable menu focusing on seafood,” Ardnt says. This is exciting news for Ardnt and his team. In January 2017, the hotel’s flagship restaurant reopened as Hook and Spear.…

Passion Projects

Valentine’s Day is one of those looming holidays. There’s so much pressure to secure a prime reservation. Steaks, oysters, Champagne, and chocolate all seem like the perfect recipe for a decadent evening, but there are so many more interesting ways to share your love through food. For Orange County connoisseurs, we are blessed with an abundance of great restaurants. Instead…

January 2017 Hot Spot

Simple pleasures. What is more divine than a fresh oyster? Chilled, bite-sized bursts of the ocean sparkle with a briny finish. Eaten raw, oysters come dressed in the bare minimum, sprinkled with a vinegary mignonette or dotted with flecks of spicy horseradish. Oysters are simple, yet undoubtedly elegant. They are definitely simple pleasures. Fortunately, oysters are a specialty at South…

Holiday Happenings

Every year, around this time, when the cool night’s air hits my skin as I stroll down the boardwalk, I recall my earliest memory of Newport Beach: my first Corona del Mar bondfire. I remember the brilliant orange and yellow-hued fire as it danced against the wooden logs that crackled beneath. The embers floated into the ether. The charred caramel…

The World is Your Oyster

On a recent afternoon, I found myself sitting at Driftwood Kitchen’s open-air dining room overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean. My companion on that blissfully warm day was my dear friend, Tae, who was visiting from New York. The two of us had first met in Manhattan as aspiring writers with a passion for the burgeoning epicurean world. Back then–nearly a…

A Taste of the Mediterranean

At first glance, South Coast Plaza’s new eatery is easy to overlook. The space, which formerly housed Nello Cucina, is nestled on the Crystal Court side of the luxury shopping experience. Divided into two parts–an open bar area surrounded by ivy, a perfect perch for people watching in the afternoon, and a small dining room with views of the open…

All in the Family

This year marks a notable time for a local Corona del Mar family. The Avilas and their El Ranchito restaurants celebrate their 50th anniversary. In 1966, when the first eatery opened its doors in Huntington Park, owners Salvador and Margarita Avila had no idea that a $2,000 investment would eventually lead to such a successful and sprawling family empire.

King of the Sea

Finding a seafood restaurant near the beach isn’t difficult. But, discovering one that serves fresh upscale cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere is a tad trickier. 
That is until you uncover Fly N Fish Oyster Bar and Grill. The restaurant’s inviting location on the Newport Beach boardwalk feels quaint, as if it’s been a part of the local landscape for decades.…

A Touch of Spain in OC

Vaca is the most anticipated restaurant opening in Orange County this year. Not only is its chef, Amar Santana, gaining recognition as a true contender on Bravo’s Emmy-award winning television series Top Chef, but the space itself–it once housed a luxurious spa, just steps away from Segerstrom Center for the Arts–has seamlessly transformed into a stunning elongated restaurant dotted with…

Easy A

“I’m in love,” moans my husband as he reclines back in satisfaction. While I wish these doting words were directed at me, the aroma inducing his blissful smile surely is not my new eau de perfume; I can tell that with each savory bite of his rib eye, it’s apparent that my husband is sweet-talking the steak. I can’t really…

Hamburger Heaven

Some dishes seem deceivingly easy to master. Burgers are at the top of that list. The basic framework of a great burger is simple: a beef patty covered in melted cheese wedged between a fluffy bun. Condiments range from lettuce and tomato to ketchup and mayo. But, many things can go afoul from there. The fare at Hopdoddy, Fashion Island’s…

‘Tis the Season

December is flooded with festive happenings. Galas, dinners and charity events dot the calendars of the county’s most illustrious residents. However, the occasions that we most fondly remember are the comforting meals that we share with our closest loved ones. Whether it’s an intimate dinner or a large dance party affair, Orange County is afflux with hidden gems, such as…

Finding 
Gratitude

The first time I experienced Café Gratitude was two years ago when my husband and I dined with an aspiring pastry chef from Chicago named Yvonne. When this spritely brunette moved to California in 2012, she completely embraced the sunny “SoCal lifestyle.”

Sushi Roku

On a brisk Sunday morning, shoppers at Fashion Island strolled by the new addition to the center’s dining scene. While this Newport Beach location just opened in June, the Sushi Roku restaurants, owned by Innovative Dining Concepts, perfected this luxe style of dining decades ago. With locations in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pasadena and West Hollywood–and another at the swanky…