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Birthday Dinner in OC

Any suggestions for a special birthday dinner somewhere in Central/Coastal Orange County? We aren't interested in Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc. but are looking for perhaps steak/seafood or French food. Last year it was the Arches and the year before it was the Riviera at the Fireside. We are looking for this caliber of restaurant but want something newer.

Any help would sure be appreciated

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  1. Napa Rose ! I cannot recommend it more highly. My wife and I were just there this past Saturday night to celebrate our anniversary, and it was fantastic. It's a great place to celebrate a special occasion, esp. if you're interested in wines. They have a really good wine program, including many wonderful by-the-glass choices. Very well-chosen, everything from reasonably-priced but still good bottles at $35 or so to that 1947 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild you've always wanted to try at $4,700. Food, service and ambience are excellent as well. The restaurant has been open about 6 or so years, IIRC, and it's still got a "fresh" feel to the place.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mikester

      We've considered Napa Rose but we've been there before and wanted to try some place new. We are considering 230 Forest Ave. in Laguna Beach or Lashers in Long Beach. Any comments? Other choices besides Napa Rose?

      1. re: HBGigi

        Lasher's is good. Bungalow style converted house with indoor/outdoor seating. Went there for a group birthday once. It's nice, but not quite the kind of intimacy for a special dinner. 230 Forest is even less private.

        1. re: brekkie_fan

          Ditto the scene at 230 Forest. The definition of boisterous. If that's not your thing, in Laguna, I'd say Five Feet is a much quieter contender. Or Laguna Sapphire to split the difference.

    2. Agree with mikester and probably many others on this board. Napa Rose! It is our go to special occasion place. Make reservations to sit at the counter for a fun experience. All of the servers are very knowledgeable about wine.
      You can valet park (for free IIRC), just tell them you are having dinner at the Napa Rose

      1. Napa Rose is excellent for Central OC.

        It's an intimate local, but I thoroughly enjoyed Vine in San Clemente.

        1. We really enjoy the Beach House in Laguna. Beautiful view.

          1. The one's I've been to and can recommend:
            Mastro's Steakhouse in Costa Mesa across from South Coast Plaza on Anton
            Char Noir - right next door
            Pinot Provence - In the Westin Hotel off of Anton. A Joachim Splichal restaurant.

            The ones I'd like to go to:
            Sapphire in Laguna Beach. Former Executive Chef at St. Regis.
            Mastro's Ocean Club - Right across from Crystal Cove State Park. Same great steaks as Mastro's in CM but with Seafood too.

            230 Forest is a nice restaurant. Great for people watching for lunch. Good food. But probably not occassion-worthy.

            1. I just celebrated my 29th birthday at Oysters in Corona Del Mar, it's my favorite local restaurant. Last year we did Maestros Ocean Club in Newport Coast, if you can afford it the food is amazing. I'm also a big fan of Scotts Seafood in Southcoast as well as Turner New Zealand (Best Lamb in the World).

              2 Replies
              1. re: irishkevbo

                I have been to Scott's several times in the past two years and have never had a good experience there. I can't speak to any one else's experience, but I would never go there of my own choosing, let alone on a special occasion. In the South Coast area, I prefer the bar at the Chat Noir (where the full menu is available) or Morton's. For a great ribeye in Newport, the Bungalow would be a great choice.

                1. re: lawdog262

                  No Scott's Seafood. There are so many better options in the area. Like the Maestros mentioned above, or Blue Coral is fabulous. Heck, even Wildfish is pretty tasty.

              2. Bungalow in Corona del Mar is pretty much pefect.

                1 Reply
                1. re: torta basilica

                  That's a great suggestion. I thought about that after I made my suggestion but didn't have time to ammend my reply. That being said...I've never been been there but it's on the top of my list.

                2. My wife's birthday is next week, and so I made reservations at 3 different places so she could choose. The three are Studio at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, Bluefin in Crystal Cove, and Morton's just south of Disneyland. I only threw Morton's in there because they are still doing that $99 coupon deal until the end of the month (2 filets, vegetable and potato to share, 2 salads, 2 appetizers - shrimp alexander, crab cake, or broiled scallops, and 2 desserts for $99!). I'm hoping she picks Studio though.

                  1. Thanks all for the recommendations. Who says OC doesn't have some great restaurants. All the suggestions look great and hopefully the decision will be made today and reservations accepted. I should have commented in my original message that we weren't really looking for "romantic", just really good food that the chef works at to prepare. In other words, not steak that is slapped on a grill or broiled fish. I'm a good cook and do that at home. Thanks again.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: HBGigi

                      Thought I should report back. We decided to go to Lasher's and weren't disappointed. It was exactly what I was looking for. Service was great, our waitress was one of the owners and was delightful. The room was lovely lit with candlelight, and quiet so that we could talk and hear each other. The chef had prepared two specials one an Osso Bucco with risotto (very good) the clam chowder was tasty and the romaine hearts with Stilton cheese was also good. All in all a great birthday celebration and the bill wasn't as high as Napa Rose would have been.