Orange County Restaurant News
Scarlet Kitchen & Lounge is the Rancho Mission Viejo restaurant that aims to merge East Coast classics with West Coast sensibilities. The elevated comfort cuisine featured at this family-run venue is overseen by executive chef and East Coast native Paige Riordan, who was previously at Reynard in Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel. Guests can expect a slew of approachable dishes featuring unique twists, such as beet tartare with cashew crema, pork and lamb ragoût with pappardelle, and Reuben tacos. Also offered up are an array of speakeasy era cocktails and an all-California beer and wine list. Scarlet Kitchen & Lounge, 30865 Gateway Pl., Rancho Mission Viejo, CA 92694, 949-503-3086.
Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square shopping center will welcome Cafe Sevilla to its mix of dining options in early 2020. The restaurant, which has sister outposts in Long Beach and San Diego, will be located in the space abdicated by Saddle Ranch Chop House. Like the other venues, the new spot will feature Spanish tapas, cocktails, and live entertainment including flamenco dancing. Cafe Sevilla, Triangle Square, 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 888-738-4552.
Plant-based Mexican food restaurant Gracias Madre in Orange County is a new sibling of the popular West Hollywood location. The outpost is on the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa border, in the building formerly occupied by Gratitude. Guests can expect an array of salads, bowls, and vegan riffs on ceviche, quesadillas, chile relleno and enchiladas. The bar whips up a host of tequila and mezcal-based cocktails, too. Gracias Madre, 1617 Westcliff Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-386-8100.
Bronze Quail will open in January, replacing Journeyman Food + Drink as the flagship culinary venue at The Fullerton Hotel. Executive chef Mark Piepkorn will oversee a California-inspired progressive contemporary fare marked by an adventurous streak. Guests can expect to see dishes including roasted squash with goat’s milk yogurt, chicory and béarnaise ice cream; savory lava cake with smoked alligator, parsnip silk and duck heart sprinkles; and vintage beef rib-eye with potato trifle and blue cheese. An innovative bar program will highlight more than 30 signature drinks. Bronze Quail, The Hotel Fullerton, 1500 S. Raymond Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831, no phone.
Little Onion, the Mexican restaurant located near the confluence of the Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Irvine borders, has opened up a second location. Fully ensconced in Irvine, the new space is a touch brighter than the original locale, which has been on Santa Ana’s corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Main Street since 1972. It also features a few standalone items in addition to the expected array of tacos and classic combo plates, including grilled prime pork chop in mole negro and fresh grilled mahi mahi served with serrano chile salsa. Guests can also imbibe several versions of margaritas and other cocktails. Little Onion, 14429 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604, 949-316-4600.
Collage, a 16,000-square-foot food hall to be housed in the space formerly occupied by Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza and Holsteins Shakes and Buns, is slated to open in spring 2020. The venue will be anchored by the first U.S. location of Paradise Dynasty, the dumpling restaurant based in Singapore. Collage, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, no phone.
Highly anticipated Italian restaurant Bello by Sandro Nardone has opened in Newport Beach. As the name implies, the restaurant is the brainchild of Italian born-and-trained owner/chef Nardone, who initially left his mark on Orange County by launching the popular Dana Point venue Angelina’s Pizzeria. Nardone is joined by chef de cuisine Frank DeLoach, an Italian-trained chef who worked in the kitchen of Playground in Santa Ana. Together, the two aim to create traditional Italian dishes and modern elevated fare inspired by some of Italy’s top restaurants. The venue also features craft cocktails and a wine list highlighting several exclusive Italian labels. Bello by Sandro Nardone, 1200 Bison Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-520-7191.
The upscale Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão has launched its first Orange County location, within the confines of the Irvine Spectrum. Like its other branches, the venue presents an all-you-can-eat churrasco dining experience, where gauchos stroll the space offering cuts of roasted meats, including beef, lamb and chicken. Guests can accompany these cuts with seasonal salads and soups from the market table and feijoada bar, as well as a selection from the international wine list. Brunch is served on weekends. Fogo de Chão, Irvine Spectrum, 623 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine, CA 92618, 949-398-1500.
Chef’s Tasting Experience at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Newport Beach offers a dining option dubbed the Chef’s Tasting Experience. Chef-partner Kevin Monahan, who honed his skills under José Andrés at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Los Angeles, creates a monthly-changing menu featuring dishes and preparations that are unique from the regular menu, yet comfortably reside within the venue’s steakhouse milieu. The menu consists of soup or salad, two entrées and a side. Cost is $75 per guest, excluding tax and gratuity. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fashion Island, 455 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-720-9633.
AYCE Mussels on Wednesdays
EATS Kitchen & Bar offers an All You Can Eat mussels special on Wednesdays. Guests that show up at the Hotel Irvine’s flagship restaurant can indulge in as many locally sourced mussels as they’d like to enjoy for $12. The offer may not be combined with any other offer or promotion. Visit here for more details. Eats Kitchen & Bar, Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92614, 949-230-4452.
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Citizen Kitchen in The Hotel Fullerton has shuttered. Casual ramen venue Sakura will occupy the space. The change completes the culinary overhaul for the property that began with the transition of Journeyman’s Food + Drink to Bronze Quail. Citizen Kitchen, The Hotel Fullerton, 1500 S. Raymond Ave., Fullerton, CA 92831, no phone.
SeaLegs Wine Bar in Huntington Beach has shuttered. Various factors spurred the closure of the popular venue after a nine-year run, including an upcoming lease expiration and ownership decision to focus on sister projects such as SeaLegs at the Beach at Bolsa Chica State Beach. There are plans for a new spot to open in the now-abdicated space, but they have yet to be formally announced. SeaLegs Wine Bar, 21022 Beach Blvd., Ste. 105, Huntington Beach, CA 92648, no phone.
Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach Bar & Grill has shuttered after 10 years of operation. The restaurant, known for serving up contemporary seafood fare amid a chill Hawaiian island vibe, decided not to renew its lease on the downtown Laguna Beach property it had called home since 2009. No replacement restaurant has been announced. Tommy Bahama’s sister location in Newport Beach remains open. Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach Bar & Grill, The Heisler Building, 400 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, no phone.
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