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Neighborhood restaurant in OC

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I'm looking for an independently owned, affordable, neighborhood restaurant in Orange County (preferably around Irvine) that I can call my own. As an example of what I'm hoping to find, my favorite French-Mediterranean neighborhood restaraunt used to be Le Tableau in the East Village. A typical meal would be: wild mushroom cigars with a manchego cheese fondue, chicken under brick in tahini-lime sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach, and a cranberry-orange bread pudding with cinnamon ice cream. All for a prix-fixe price of $25 (although I was told that in the past year they raised the price to $26).
I prefer French bistro, but I'm definitely willing to take other recommendations. I like the desserts at Zov's Bistro in Tustin, but the food was just ok. Thank you!!

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  1. My experience with Irvine (aka The Irvine Co.) is that it is mostly ripe with chain and franchise restaurants. Your best bet for a independently owned restaurant that meets your criteria would be the many asian restaurants. I think Irvine has some of the best in Orange County.

    I think you would have better luck in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Laguna.

    My latest favorite has been Sapphire in Laguna Beach. Next to the restaurant the chef opened a great gourmet shop with some incredible cheeses.

    1200 S. Coast Hwy. (Agate St.)
    Laguna Beach, CA 92651
    949-715-9888
    http://www.sapphirellc.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: cdmedici

      We were thinking of checking, Sapphire laguna for brunch tomorrow. I asked the board a while ago about SL,but I didn't get any answers. How is the food? I am specially excited about the gourmet market.

      1. re: mrsjoujou

        It has only been open for a few weeks. Our food was terrific. We went on Sunday in which they have a brunch menu. I asked to see the dinner menu and it looked incredible. We intend to go back soon for dinner. Besides the great food the patio is a great place to dine with an ocean view.

        The chef apparantly used to work at The Ritz Carltona and has spent the last year or so traveling the world being culinarily inspired. The menu absolutely reflect that.

    2. You're asking for a lot... ;-) I love Sage in Eastbluff, hear good things about Jimmy Z's in Irvine, but haven't been, Britta's is more upscale American & expensive, but good food, ummmm... hitting a wall here - hopefully, you'll get some more replies. You made me very hungry with your meal description, though!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: torta basilica

        I agree it's a tall order for a neighborhood restaurant in irvine. One of the requirements for a neighborhood restaurant would probably be that it is IN your neighborhood, the way restaurants are sprinkled in between the brownstones in the East Village - a place you can walk to and hang out, and where the owner makes sure that you are satisfied with your dinner.

        With the way things are zoned in Irvine, it keeps residential far away from the commercial areas, and even then the commercial areas are filled with chains and bleh food, and the restuarant managers could care less what you really think, as long as you don't get him in trouble with his boss.

        Having said that, I agree with you on Sage for good food and good service. I would also recommend the Pleasant Peasant by the airport - however, it's tucked inside a small shopping center surrounded by high rises.

        http://www.thepleasantpeasant.com/

      2. Golden Truffle in Newport Beach on Newport Blvd is supposed to be very good. I think the food is French/Caribbean. Anyone been there?

        1 Reply
        1. re: teach

          The truffle is very good, especially when Allan is cooking.