Covering the dining scene in and around the OC
This trendy yet tasteful quasi shopping mall is home to a handful of unique restaurants that are drawing dining fans from throughout Orange County.
The newest of these is ARC, the creation of Newport Beach residents Marin Howarth and Noah Blöm. This small but mighty restaurant offers eclectic takes on rustic cuisine, with every dish hand-prepared and cooked over firewood-flamed grills and in a brick oven.
“We focus on flame, flavor and finesse. Everything we do is cooked over an open fire,” noted Chef Blöm.
“This menu looks fun,” said Catherine as we settled into seats at the bar overlooking the flurry of activity in the kitchen.
“Since our column is called Off the Menu, I’m actually ordering something that’s not on the regular menu,” I confided. “Last time, a woman setting near me was enjoying a large burger, which she told me was on ARC’s ‘secret’ menu. Apparently, if you know about it, you can order from it.”
“I like this, it’s a mix of sweet and tangy with just a hint of basil,” said Catherine.
“This is the perfect whiskey cocktail,” I said between sips. “Should go perfect with the burger.”
“This menu has enticing options that don’t give much away as to what is actually in the dishes, but that actually makes it more exciting, especially since you can watch them cooking the food,” she noted.
Catherine couldn’t decide between the meatballs and the pig dish, which came with beans (soaked in duck fat), maple and herbs, so we ordered both. Everything arrived at once, steaming hot and perfectly plated–in skillets.
“Ummmm…” I mumbled as I took a giant bite out of my giant burger. “This is one awesome burger–one of the best I’ve ever had, and possibly the biggest. And it goes perfectly with the cocktail.”
Current kitchen and bar menus can be found online at arcrestaurant.com. ARC is located in South Coast Collection, 3321 Hyland Avenue, in Costa Mesa. ARC is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more info, call 949-500-5561.