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News for Restaurants in Orange County, CA
April 2008 Archive

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The MOR Project restaurant group has opened Blanca in Newport Harbor’s Lido Center. Chef Nicholas "Nick" Weber, formerly of Patina’s Pinot Provence and Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar, is offering upscale Spanish and Italian fare with a focus on seafood. Entrées include roasted barramundi, harissa-rubbed lamb rib-eye and Jidori chicken breast. In addition, crudo is prepared tableside with a variety of garnishes, salts and oils to accompany this Italian version of sliced raw fish. The beverage list features an array of wines predominantly from Italy, Spain and France, as well as sangria and mojitos. Lunch Fri.-Sat., Dinner nightly, Brunch Sun. Blanca, 3420 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, CA 92663, no phone available yet.
Robert Sarai, owner of Yorba Linda’s Fitness Pizza & Grill, is opening Versai The Wine Bar adjacent to his health-conscious pizza restaurant. Sarai says he enjoys helping his patrons select and savor rare wines to accompany his authentic tapas-style dishes such as lollipop lamb, mussel mania and black truffle crab cakes, as well as cheese platters and caviars. Versai The Wine Bar, 18248 Imperial Hwy., Yorba Linda, CA 92886, 714-993-5421.
Construction will start in the beginning of June on a second Veggie Grill in Irvine, which will open before the end of the year. Architect Stephen Francis Jones, who worked on Spago Beverly Hills, The Hump, Chinois on Main and Kumo Restaurant, is behind the look. "The fresh dining experience will be enhanced by the use of colorful red acoustical panels with accented red lights and red chairs, warm blond slated cypress woodwork and orange and green stained colored concrete floors," Jones reports. Veggie Grill, no address yet, Irvine, CA 92603, no phone available yet.
Manhattan Supper Club has opened in the former La Brasserie location on Main Street (near Chapman Avenue) in Orange. Headed by chef-partner Stephane Beaucamp, formerly of Sutra Lounge and Kantina, Manhattan Supper Club is a New York-meets-Vegas restaurant and lounge. Beaucamp is sourcing dry-aged, all-natural steaks, sustainable seafoods, organically-raised poultry and farm-to-table fruits and vegetables. Wine is a big part of this concept, and Beaucamp says he's offering a wide variety of international selections under $50 as well as private wine lockers in his handcrafted, temperature-controlled cellar. Manhattan Supper Club, 202 S. Main St., Orange, CA 92868, 714-978-6161.
Irezumi has opened at Metro Point in Costa Mesa. Billed as a high-energy sushi lounge, Irezumi blends old-world Japanese and vibrant modern décor, creating a dramatic dining experience from lunch time into late night. Using fresh, hand-picked seafood from local markets, Irezumi offers traditional sushi and contemporary entrées such as black pepper Niman Ranch filet mignon on wasabi mashed potatoes, halibut seasoned with exotic Asian spices and a free-range chicken breast in a Japanese country barbecue sauce. The full bar offers a variety of hot, cold and unfiltered sakes, plus signature fresh fruit cocktails. After dinner ends, the sushi bar is transformed into a lively lounge scene with an eclectic mix of rock and funk music until 2 a.m. Irezumi, 901 South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 949-999-5463.

News Bytes

Another French 75 Bites the Dust
David Wilhelm has reincarnated yet another French 75 restaurant into an urban gastropub called Wilhelm's Chophouse. This Irvine Market Place location is now designed as a more casual restaurant featuring bold, spicy, flavorful foods found in rural roadhouses and urban eateries. The menu features grilled steaks, spicy barbecue ribs, burgers, chili, soups and salads using naturally-raised beef, organically-grown produce and sustainable and renewable seafood. Wilhelm has also included his "greatest hits" from current and previous restaurants, going back to the popular Kachina in Laguna Beach. Happily, the Chophouse has not touched its popular Bohemian "Red Bar" with its savory appetizers, small plates, sliders, draft beers, specialty margaritas, fruit-infused martinis and wines by the glass. Wilhelm’s Chophouse, 13290 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92602, 714-573-7600.
Tommy Bahama’s Reinvents its Cafe
Tommy Bahama's Tropical Café has morphed into Tommy Bahama's Island Grille. Billed as a "casual elegant oasis," the revitalized restaurant in Corona Del Mar Plaza reflects a rich and sophisticated California coastal décor with a color palette of chocolate, Chinese red, gold and ochre to create a lush backdrop for dark woods and rattan ceiling fans. The new menu features halibut and Pacific swordfish caught off the California coast, heirloom tomatoes grown in Oxnard plus a new ceviche-meets-sashimi appetizer, served with plantain chips and watermelon for dipping. Or, try a lobster grilled cheese sandwich served with heirloom tomato soup. The bar here focuses on classic cocktails such as martinis, signature margaritas and classic mojitos. Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille, 854 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-760-8686.
Chimayo Morphs Into Savannah at the Beach
Huntington Beach's Chimayo at the Beach has morphed overnight into Wilhelm's Savannah at the Beach. Famed OC restaurateur David Wilhelm has transformed yet another one of his many OC and LA locations into a Savannah concept, with a more Southern-style menu of steaks, chops and seafood. We were impressed with the initiial menu offerings, which include lots of seasonal, farm-inspired dishes and a $16 "economic stimulus" entrée of either a 16 oz. New York steak or maple-glazed salmon with accompanying potatoes and vegetables. Sadly, the tired-looking Southwestern-themed interior décor has not been updated. Happily, the cheery and practically on-the-beach tropical patio remains untouched. Wilhelm's Savannah at the Beach, 315 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, 714-374-7273.
Savannah Goes Clubbing
Savannah Supper Club & Lounge now combines upscale dining with a club-like atmosphere on Friday and Saturday evenings. Influence Ultra Lounge is a Friday night hangout with DJs spinning house music from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. On Saturdays, DJs take over again for this new late night spot. Guests must be 21 or over and sophisticated, fashionable attire is required. Reservations for VIP tables are suggested. Savannah Supper Club, 655 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-557-6647.
Roller Skating Servers Return to OC
Perhaps the only place in the OC to order an old-fashioned burger and fries from a roller skating server will be at the new Ruby’s Diner in downtown Anaheim this summer. With the ambiance of an historic roadhouse, this popular diner will reflect the '40s with retro design of mahogany woods, leather booths and historically accurate signage and canopies, as well as a shaded outdoor dining area to top off its unique location. Ruby's Diner, 1128 West Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, CA 92805, no phone available yet.
Charlie Palmer's New Project
New York chef Charlie Palmer is coming to Orange County, but it seems the restaurant, which is located inside South Coast Plaza's Bloomingdale's department store, won’t be opening until at least May.

Chef Shuffle

It seems chef Ronnie Arnold, who left the top spot at Laguna's hush last year, has abruptly left his gig as chef de cuisine at Motif, the casual yet fine dining spot at the St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach. His replacement has not yet been found, so executive chef Frederic Castan is overseeing the kitchens in this upscale Mediterranean bistro for breakfast, lunch, dinner and holiday meals. Motif, St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629, 949-234-3200.
Chef Nicholas "Nick" Weber, who most recently ran the kitchen at Patina’s Pinot Provence and Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar, is now the head chef at Blanca, a Spanish- and Italian-inspired restaurant located in Newport Beach’s Lido Center. Lunch Fri.-Sat., Dinner nightly, Brunch Sun. Blanca, 3420 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, CA 92663, no phone available yet.



Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Orange County to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from yesteryear. Aqua, R.I.P.

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