Quiet Woman, Oysters, or Nagisa in OC
I'm picking up a co-worker at John Wayne airport today and then meeting up with a third person. Want an early dinner in the NB/Airport area. Third person lives in CDM. They recommended Oysters, The Quiet Woman, or Nagisa for sushi. I've never been to any of these but was under the imoression that The Quiet Woman was more of a nightlife-type environment. Any opinion on these three?
I also was thinking about Onotria or Aire. Thinking it'll be early enought o get a table if we call at the last minute.
Any thoughts are appreciated.
So for tonight we decided to go to Onotria because it was close to the airport and hotel.
Overall we were very satisfied.
We really liked the grilled rapini with cannelli beans, corn pasta with a spicy tomato coulis, and clams. I ordered the lobster and white truffle oil risotto special which I believe was the weakest item. I added pepper which helped and a coworker said it needed salt. I think I just don't like risotto. Too rich, too all-the-same-thing and I get bored with my plate. The lobster was good though. Nice chunks which I pulled out before giving up.
We had a really lovely Italian Pinot Grigio (don't ask me which one beyond it was $40 a bottle). They brought delicious olives when we sat down. That was a welcome touch.We also ordered the grilled calamari entree as an appetizer for the table. It was stuffed with herbs and whole olives and the calamari were 4-6" whole calamari, not rings or tentacles. When we cut the squid it compressed the body and the olives shot out one end looking like...well you imagine.
The service became rather lackadaisical toward the end of the meal but that could be because we started at a rather slow pace because we were catching-up and discovering the menu. Also a large party came in so between the two I think we ranked a little low in the priority scale. I'd descibe the service as European, not offenive, and certainly very good in whole.
Tomorrow night we choose between the Pleasant Pheasant recommedation and Blue Coral. I made reservations last week at Blue Coral because vodka sounded good but a scene isn't really what I'm looking for so we'll have to see how we feel tomorrow.
My choices would be Gulfstream (can make a reservation) or Bandera (as long as you get there before 6:00/no reservations). Both are on PCH in NB/CDM. Way better than Oysters or The Quiet Woman! Blue Coral is a waste of a LOT of $$$. Their vodka bar is a joke as it is so small.
I like Banderas, they make a great martini and grilled artichoke. You are right, get there early or the wait is miserable (although if I'm there with my husband he enjoys the "scenery").
Gulfstream, I don't know. I've only been there once and it was for lunch. I remember having a hard time finding anything on the menu that sounded good to me and wound up with an unmemorable salad. The restaurant smelled good though, the smokiness of the grill always gets my juices flowing. I just wasn't in the mood for grilled meat for lunch so maybe that was my mistake. Perhaps it's a grilled-half-a-chicken kind of place.
We went to Blue Coral in Fashion Island and were very pleasantly surprised. The bartender Gabe, and chef Michael are a great asset the their employers. Whoever trained the front of the house chooses some genuinely friendly, approachable employees that don't come off as obsequious but really go the extra mile. Being somewhat jaded and suspicious of unsolicited interaction I was at first a little skeptical about conversing with the bartending staff that seemed so enthusiastic about their cocktails and the appetizer menu. Then as we settled in and conversed further I really began to think they were sincere and that they were chosen for this unique ability to connect on a human level with their customers. What a welcome change. The bar had character, like an upscale "Cheers" were everybody knows your name.
Chef Michael went behind the bar to drop something off and saw us looking at the menu and explained that he would be going back to the kitchen to slice fish but inquired if we had questions about the menu, which we did. With much enthusiasm and patience he explained the preparations and his intention when developing the dishes. He recommended combinations and seemed as genuinely gracious and warm as the others we had encountered.
It was almost a "Stepford Staff" but in a good way.
Now onto the food. I had a Hawaiian Groper (grouper) called Hanoka(sp?). It resembled a cross between Chilean sea bass and halibut with equally mild taste. It was grilled and rested on sautéed spinach with fresh tomatoes and bathed in a ginger broth. REALLY REALLY tasty. I started the meal with New England clam chowder that was tasty, and rich but not especially noteworthy. It benefited by a healthy dose of pepper.
My coworkers ordered shrimp scampi and the yellow tail, which I didn't try but they were beautifully presented. They also ordered the Asian pear salad special, which I also didn't try.
They serve warm little drop biscuits and whipped honey butter that is light and airy and the combination is deadly and should never have been brought to the table because it's irresistible. I have never liked drop biscuits before because they are usually leaden and flavorless but these were actually remarkably light and tasty.
Would I go back to blue Coral? In a heart beat. The food and atmosphere reminded me of Roy’s if Roy’s would turn down the volume level and frenetic pace. But Roy’s' never had a staff like Blue Coral. They set the experience apart for us.