Covering the dining scene in and around the OC
Orange County Restaurant Week kicked off on Saturday, February 22 with a launch party that featured two dozen restaurants offering samples of their Restaurant Week menus.
More than 100 restaurants throughout OC are participating in OC Restaurant Week, which runs through March 1. They’ve created $10, $15 and $20 lunch menus and $20, $30 and $40 dinner menus that offer terrific examples of each restaurant’s regular menu.
We’re based in Newport Beach, where more than 20 restaurants are participating in OC Restaurant Week. We took a look at their menus to see which ones we wanted to visit, and we found a few in other OC cities we wanted to check out.
“I like how you can go to the OC Restaurant Week website and sort the restaurants by menu price, and by city,” said Catherine as we perused the menus.
“I also like how each menu includes a ‘meet the chef’ section. Very fun,” said Christopher.
“The $20 lunch at Canaletto in Fashion Island looks good,” said Catherine. “Choice of soup, salad or bruschetta, and then choice of pizza, pasta, fish or chicken, plus dessert, which sounds amazing: strawberry-rum gelato, chocolate hazelnut gelato and pistachio gelato, folded together with cherries, chocolate chips and pistachios, then served with raspberry and chocolate sauce.”
“Sounds like a great deal, but so does the $20 lunch menu at Eat Chow,” Christopher countered. “Start with truffle parmesan and sweet potato fries
or white bean hummus with house made corn chips and basil oil, then select chicken tacos, pork loin, chopped chicken salad, or berry brie salad, and then finish with lemon cookie cake and chocolate chip bread pudding.”
“Look at this $15 lunch menu at Bambu Restaurant at Fairmont Hotel,” said Catherine. “You can have a chicken chopped salad, seared ahi, Wagyu burger or sweet potato cannelloni plus a dessert.”
“How about Harborside’s $30, three-course dinner menu—they have nine options for entrees, and the price includes wine or beer,” said Christopher. “But wait—look at what Royal Thai is offering: a three course lunch for $10 with 12 different options for entrees. And one of the first course options is Tom Kah soup, my favorite. That may be the bargain of the year for lunch.”
“It’s a great opportunity to try a variety of Thai food,” agreed Catherine.
“SOL Cocina has a great $15 lunch menu—we love their food,” said Christopher.
“I also loved our recent visit to their new Solita restaurant in Huntington Beach, which is also part of OC Restaurant Week with a $10 lunch and $20 dinner menu,” said Catherine. “The corn-on-the-cob appetizer was amazing—an ear of sweet corn, roasted and grilled with butter, chipotle salsa, chiles, cotixa and green onion. I really enjoyed the lazy enchiladas which had three corn tortillas folded over Mexican cheeses and meat, and the chicken burrito. I liked how they drizzled the sour cream on top giving the dish a good amount of flavor without overwhelming it.”
“Remember that cooking demo that Chef Yvon Goetz from The Winery Restaurant did recently to promote his Restaurant Week menu?” Christopher asked Catherine. “Their Newport Beach restaurant opens in a few weeks, but this is a good chance to go and try his food at their Tustin location. His dishes are consistently stunning.”
“I also want to try Chapter One,” said Catherine. “And Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen and Bruno’s Trattoria in Brea have special menus—they’re worth the drive.”
“Lucca has a $15 lunch menu and $30 dinner menu, and both are impressive,” said Christopher. “Lucca’s Chef Cathy is getting ready to open
Provenance in Newport Beach, so this is a good time to try her cuisine.”
“I want to go to The Melting Pot!” exclaimed Catherine. “Their Irvine and Brea locations have several menus ranging from $15 to $40 that are absolutely sensational. After trying them last December, I’ve been wanting to go back, and this is a good excuse.”
“Did you see AnQi’s menus?” asked Christopher. “They all come with a side of garlic noodles. I’d go just for that. And Scott’s Restaurant has some impressive lunch and dinner menus. But did you see this Wahoo’s menu? $20 for two people, and includes two glasses of wine or beer, a baja roll to share, two of the #2 combos (my favorite), and churro chips. That’s the best deal I’ve seen for restaurant week.”
“Want to go to Laguna Beach? Look at Maro Wood Grill’s menu,” said Catherine. “Their $40 dinner menu includes a glass of wine and three courses, including their famous bread pudding.”
“So many great restaurant in Laguna are participating: 370 Common, Lumberyard, 230 Forest, Tabu, Watermarc. I’m not sure where to start,” said Christopher.
“Sounds like we’re going to be plenty busy during OC Restaurant Week,” laughed Catherine.
For a complete list of restaurants and menus, visit www.OCRestaurantWeek.com.