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I'm bored with OC Restaurants

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Help! My friends are taking me to dinner this Saturday for my 40th birthday (..that's a whole separate issue there), and I can't for the life of me come up with a restaurant that I'd be excited to go to. Here's my criteria: great atmosphere - warm and inviting, makes you want to sit and talk all night; great food - not the creative neveau food that has miniature portions piled high; and a great...no, killer wine list. Am I asking too much?
They suggested French 75 (I'm in Irvine, btw), I love the atmosphere but the food is so-so; Zov's Bistro in Tustin - love the food, but the atmosphere is a lil' cafe-ish.

Help a bored poor girl out who's not turning 40, but holding at 39.95, and help me re-passionate (?) myself with the OC dining scene. Any suggestions?

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  1. stonehill tavern at the st regis?

    1. Studio at the Montage- expensive, but great

      Pinot Provence at the Westin South Coast Plaza- same as above, but you're worth it!

      If you don't mind driving, The Cat & The Custard Cup in La Habra would be perfect. It's made to look like an Inn. There is a nice fireplace, a piano player, great wine list and varied menu. The pork tenderloin is too die for. So is the scallop appetizer.

      The Ritz at Fashion Island. Very old school, but nice.

      hmmmmm.... I'll keep thinking.

      1. OC has amazing ethnic dining. Some of the best in the country. Mexican, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern etc. There are many good choices. While some are "hole in the wall" type places, there are many that have nice ambiance.

        Habana near South Coast Plaza has good food, great drinks and a really nice patio. The service there is really nice and is often the place for family gatherings in OC.

        1. Stonehill is very spotty and inconsistent to say the least.
          Studio at Montage is very expensive and the food is NOT worth it... again inconsistent at best. Studio DOES have great views and a location.
          Both Stonehill and Studio can rest on their laurels a bit due to the consistent hotel based business and the lack of really high end options in south county.

          Cat in the Custard Cup is actually quite good. Have had good meals there. Not really high end fine dining, but pretty good... a little on the casual side.

          I'm a big fan of Napa Rose. Very consistent, very good and great wine list. My wife and I both hit the big 40 this year too... I feel you.

          I'd go with Napa Rose.

          1 Reply
          1. re: woojink

            ditto on Napa Rose. Great food, service & ambiance.

          2. Maybe it's not fancy enough, but I love Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach. Fantastic, FRESH fish, prepared simply, great wine list, cozy atmosphere.