Off the Menu OC

Covering the dining scene in and around the OC

A Restaurant Gets A Rating

The Arches Service Station UNKNOWN OWNER 1911“Meet me at The Arches!”

That was a familiar phrase back in the 1920s and 30s, when The Arches Restaurant and Filling Station on Coast Highway in Newport Beach was the halfway point between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Even after the interstate freeway eventually connected the two towns, The Arches remained a popular dining spot along the coast.

The iconic restaurant retained its luster for several decades, until it moved to another location and went out of business.

Fortunately, the old Arches property was purchased by a handful of local investors. They made some upgrades to the restaurant and, as a homage to the original tenant, named their new endeavor A Restaurant.

The restaurant has been a hit with locals who enjoy the retro-yet-hip atmosphere and the dynamic cuisine of Chef Jon Blackford, who regularly updates his menus to reflect the changing seasons.A1

Chef Blackford’s spring menu features Brussels sprout leaves with capers and lemon, BBQ octopus with crispy chickpeas and black olives, crispy pork belly, garlic and wine sausage with herb spaetzle, jumbo diver scallops with carrot mash, Scottish salmon, lamb shank, and other creative dishes.

We attended a media tasting and were able to try a number of items.

“I’m not usually a fan of tartare, but A Restaurant’s steak tartare surprised me,” said Catherine. “It had capers, mustard, quail egg, romano, arugula and the special ingredient that made it stand out—truffle oil. It was served with crispy bits of toast that weren’t so crisp that it broke into pieces but crisp enough that it didn’t get soggy. The mustard also gave the dish a nice kick.”

“I like octopus when it’s prepared correctly, and the barbequed octopus here was excellent,” opined Christopher. “It was firm yet tender, almost like octopus sausage, and the other ingredients in the dish added textures and flavors.”

A3“Another dish that I don’t find often when I go out was the spring garlic and red wine sausage,” said Catherine. “This is a great appetizer to share or to have as your main course joined by one of their unique desserts such as the fluffernutter. Normally I’m not big into rich desserts, especially ones with peanut butter, but this one had the perfect combination of rich Butterfinger-like pieces mixed with light whipped ‘fluff.’ I could have easily devoured the whole bowl.”

For reservations or more information, call (949) 650-6505 or visit

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