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Eureka!, the small California-based chain that specializes in hand-packed burgers and artisanal beverages, is coming to Orange County. The venue is slated to open in Huntington Beach’s Bella Terra shopping center in March. In addition to burgers, the restaurant will feature kicked up American cuisine and a beverage program that will emphasize American craft beers, small-batch whiskeys and specialty cocktails. For more information, visit www.eurekarestaurantgroup.com. Lunch & Dinner daily. Eureka!, Bella Terra, 7631 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647, no phone.
BLK Burgrz (pronounced “black burgers”) is now open in Ladera Ranch. The casual South Orange County restaurant features contemporary American small plates and full menu items with an emphasis on burgers and sliders made with American Wagyu and Kobe-style beef, served tableside. The venue also features a full wine list, handcrafted cocktails and craft beer selections from local breweries. BLK Burgrz, Mercantile East Shopping Center, 27742 Antonio Pkwy, Ste 7, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694, 949-429-6666.
Downtown Santa Ana’s ever burgeoning dining scene is slated to welcome El Mercado Modern Cuisine in Spring 2014. The restaurant is the brainchild of Danny Godinez, chef/owner of the popular and acclaimed dining venue Anepalco’s Café, and promises to feature contemporary takes on classic regional Mexican cuisine, along with a full bar serving up craft cocktails. Dinner nightly. El Mercado Modern Cuisine, 301 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, No phone available.
Fig & Olive, the Mediterranean restaurant with locations in New York and West Hollywood, opened a Fashion Island branch. It occupies its own structure with limestone stucco walls and olive trees. Executive chef Pascal Lorange's menu features shareable small plates (e.g. fig-Gorgonzola tartlet, zucchini carpaccio) and dinner entrées such as Provence rosemary grilled lamb chops served with goat cheese gnocchi and eggplant roasted with thyme and honey. The wine list focuses on varietals from the South of France, Italy and Spain. Fig & Olive, 401 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 212-924-1200.
Cathy Pavlos, owner and executive chef of Lucca Café in Irvine, will open a new culinary concept in Newport Beach called Provenance. The restaurant will take over the former location of Sage in the Eastbluff Village Center, which closed at the end of 2012. The new eatery will feature seasonal contemporary fare highlighted by ingredients cultivated from the venue's 1,300-square-foot, organic garden. Provenance, Eastbluff Village Center, 2531 Eastbluff Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660, no phone.
Cucina Enoteca will be rolling out a second Orange County location, in Newport Beach’s famed shopping center Fashion Island. The restaurant, whose original OC space can be found at the Irvine Spectrum, is slated to open in the summer 2014. Like the Irvine venue, the new space will be featuring an array of rustic Italian cuisine and an extensive list of wines that may be purchased at retail prices. Dinner nightly. Cucina Enoteca, Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, no phone.
Bonefish Grill, the sustainable seafood restaurant chain based in St. Petersburg, Florida, opened a new location in the Tustin Marketplace. The restaurant marks the first foray into California for the national dining venue, whose culinary philosophy is anchored by a dedication to responsible fishing practices. As is the case with the other locations, this space features a host of daily hand-cut fish items along with steaks, pasta, chicken and pork dishes. Bonefish Grill, 2915 El Camino Real, Suite 3040, Tustin, CA 92782, 714-368-7613.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar will be opening their second Orange County location in 2014. The new, two-story location will be situated in Newport Beach, on the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway known as Mariner’s Mile. Just like the original location in Tustin, the new spot will feature a menu that focuses on contemporary California regional cuisine, as built by executive chef Yvon Goetz. The Newport Beach location will also house a two-story temperature-controlled glass wine cellar capable of holding up to 6,000 bottles. The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, 3131 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663, no phone.
Winter Prix-fixe Menu at Roy's
Roy's is offering a winter prix-fixe menu that will be available through March 23, 2014. Start with lobster bisque followed by pork osso buco. Butterscotch and miso budino provides a sweet ending. The cost is $36.95 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Roy's, Fashion Island, 453 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-640-7697.
Daily Brunch Has Begun at Pinot Provence
Pinot Provence has expanded their weekend brunch service to a daily offering. The Costa Mesa restaurant, located within walking distance of South Coast Plaza, inside The Westin South Coast Plaza hotel, will allow patrons to start each day by indulging in a two-course offering of classic brunch items infused with French touches. Some of the brunch items include the Provençal scramble served with roasted tomato confit, leeks and chervil; and crème brûlée French toast accompanied with strawberry marmalade and mascarpone-lemon cream. The cost is $22, and $32 with the inclusion of endless mimosas, bellinis or Bloody Marys. A la carte items range from $8-$26. Pinot Provence, The Westin South Coast Plaza, South Coast Plaza, 686 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-444-5900.
Sunday Suppers at Lucca Cafe
Lucca Cafe in Irvine hosts a special mid-afternoon Sunday Supper designed to replicate the feel and ambiance of a traditional family dinner on the second Sunday of the month. Executive chef/owner Cathy Pavlos rolls out a four-course menu, with a monthly changing theme focusing on a Mediterranean country, an intriguing European region, or the food of a renowned chef. This meal is augmented by rare and unique wines, as well as other edible surprises. Pricing is per person, and varies from month to month. Lucca Cafe, Quail Hill Village Center, 6507 Quail Hill Pkwy., Irvine, CA 92603, 949-725-1773.
OC Cocktail Week Makes Debut in March
The first ever edition of OC Cocktail Week is coming to Orange County March 2-8, 2014. Chefs and mixologists from several dozen area restaurants will be working together to celebrate the mixed drink by creating special pairings of craft cocktails, appetizers and small bites, all priced at $20.14. Select restaurants slated to participate include 320 Main, HopScotch, Little Sparrow, Red O and Scott’s Restaurant and Bar. For more information, visit www.occocktailweek.com
Ways & Means Oyster House in Old Town Orange has a new tandem team of executive chefs in the kitchen. Benjamin Wallenbeck and Justin Odegard, who honed their crafts separately in Orange County venues like A Restaurant and AnQi Gourmet Bistro by Crustacean, join forces to oversee a menu dominated by sustainably caught seafood and seasonal ingredients. Ways & Means Oyster House, 513 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866, 714-516-1800.
Manfred Lassahn has taken over as executive chef at The Californian, the flagship dining venue at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. Lassahn, who trained in Germany, comes to the oceanfront venue after accumulating nearly three decades worth of experience in other Hyatt properties in Southern California, including the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Hyatt Regency Valencia and Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The Californian, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, 714-845-4776.
The Ritz Restaurant & Garden, the iconic restaurant that has been across the way from Newport Beach’s Fashion Island shopping center, has closed its doors. The venerable venue had been part of the Orange County dining scene since 1977, and at its most recent location since 1984. The reason for the shuttering is due to a change in plans regarding the restaurant’s property by the land’s owners, who want to convert the space into a multi-purpose building. The restaurant is currently looking for another space to reopen in the future. The Ritz Restaurant & Garden, 880 Newport Ctr. Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, no phone.
Memphis at the Santora, one of the key pieces to Downtown Santa Ana’s culinary and social revival, has closed its doors. The restaurant had been operating in the corner of the city’s Santora building since 2001. The reason for the closure is tied to the restaurant being sold to new management, who are slated to launch a Mexican food concept in the space in the fall. Memphis Cafe, the restaurant’s sister location in Costa Mesa, will remain open. Memphis at the Santora, Artists Village, 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, no phone.
Chakra Cuisine, the upscale Indian restaurant located in Irvine’s UC-adjacent University Center, has shuttered. No reason was given for the restaurant’s closing down. Plans for a replacement eatery to fill the empty space have yet to be revealed. Chakra Cuisine, University Center, 4143 Campus Dr., Irvine, CA 92612, no phone.
The Crosby, the contemporary restaurant and late-night entertainment venue in downtown Santa Ana, has closed its doors. No replacement venue for the spot has been announced. The Crosby, 400 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, no phone.
Opah, a longtime fixture in the sprawling Irvine Marketplace, has shut its doors. Its last day of business was New Year’s Eve. No reason for its shuttering was given, and there have been no announcement for a new restaurant to occupy the now-vacant space. Opah, The Marketplace, 13122 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92602, no phone.
Palm Terrace, Island Hotel Newport Beach’s flagship restaurant, closed its doors for renovations. The restaurant is slated to reopen in July 2014. Plans for alternative dining concepts during the renovation have not been formally announced. Palm Terrace, The Island Hotel Newport Beach, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, no phone.
Brasserie Pascal has closed its doors. The Fashion Island restaurant, which was named in part after its restaurateur and chef Pascal Olhats, had been in operation since 2009. There was no reason given for its shuttering. A replacement venue for the space has yet to be announced. Brasserie Pascal, Fashion Island, 327 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, no phone.
DivBar Smokehouse BBQ, the roadhouse barbecue-themed venue located on Newport Beach’s Mariner’s Mile, has closed its doors. No reason was given for its shuttering, and no future plans for the space that housed the venue have been announced. DivBar Smokhouse BBQ, 2601 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92663, no phone.
The Californian, the flagship dining venue of the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, has been temporarily closed for renovation. The eatery will be transformed to a new dining and bar concept, but it will be relaunched under the same name. The reopening is slated for Spring 2014. The hotel’s other dining venues will remain open during the renovations. The Californian, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, no phone.
View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Orange County