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French restaurants in coastal OC

I'm looking for opinions and recommendations on French Restaurants in coastal Orange County. Special dinner coming up, expensive is OK if worth it.

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  1. Pascal's on Bristol in Newport Beach is topnotch. Basilic's on Balboa Island is excellent; Swiss French. It's small so be sure to call well in advance for reservations.

    1. French 75 in laguna. I've only been to Chat Noir (same chain), but it is similar in menu and I've heard great things about Frnech 75


      Als, Gemmell's in dana point gets raves here

      1 Reply
      1. re: MEalcentric

        Gemmell's is the best around and in Dana Point Harbor. Get the Sea Bass. You will not be disappointed.

      2. Have heard very good things about Picayo,a wonderful looking French bistro in Laguna Beach.

        1. You really have only one choice if you are looking for a true "coastal" French in OC and it hasn't been mentioned on this thread. All the others, although in a coastal city, are not truly coastal which to me means "on the coast".

          Mirabeau Bisto is admittedly on the "wrong side" of PCH but it does have a semi-ocean view if it's not too foggy. Mirabeau Bistro is a French bistro down to the waiters. Sit outside by the fireplace for romantic atmosphere. It can get booked so reservations are necessary. I had a sublime tomato tart there recently. Read the chef bio on the website, it's impressive.

          I'm a little hestitant to recommend Gemmel's until I give it one more try. I've read the raves on this board but they did not match my experience. It does have cute atmosphere and I really wanted to like it but the service was about as spotty as I've ever experienced and really diminshed the whole experience for me. Also, I went there for lunch and it was HOT and STILL in the restaurant. Really quite uncomfortable. Another thing, they didn't take the skin off the sand dabs and it took me a couple of bites to figure out what was wrong. It wasn't difficult to peel off by myself but I've never had sand dabs served skin on before. They should have mentioned this so I could have immediately peeled it off rather than getting those first couple of nasty bites.

          1. Consider Basilic, on Balboa Island (about as coastal as it gets, after all, it's an island, right ? :-)


            This place is really charming, very small and intimate. Definitely a little jewel of a place, IMO. If you're after "haute" french, this isn't it, but for rustic french with a Swiss accent, this would fit the bill.

            2 Replies
            1. I know that some will say it's not "French" but we dined at Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis in Laguna Niguel two weeks ago and it was excellent. And without a doubt all of the preparations that came out were thoroughly French in technique. I had duck prepared three ways to start and then a loin of lamb with braised vegetables. All were outstanding.

              If you want bistro classics, it's not the place. If you want well executed dishes based on excellent ingredietns, it's a perfect choice. Portions of the menu are online, so you can make up your own mind if it's french enough.

                1. re: 212

                  Why would it matter if the Chefs are French?
                  Some of the best French Food in the World is made by Japanese, Chinese and Austrian Chefs using the French technique.

                2. Just a word on Pascal's. I went there the other night with a group of 6 and the food was unifomly terrible. My goat cheese salad was great but the Coq Au Vin was awful. Everyone's food was way too salty. I think this place may have slipped recently. I wouldn't waste my money.