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Jun 15, 2000 03:54 AM

costa mesa dinner

  • e

I'm going to a show at the south coast rep, which I understand in near costa mesa. any recommendations for dinner before the show in the area?

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  1. What kind of food are you interested in: American/Western European, Mexican, Asian, etc.? How about budget? High-end? Low-end? How important is atmosphere?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tom Armitage


      middle to high budget. european--but if there's something good, I'm open. I heard there is good asian food in orange co.


      1. re: elisha

        It's been a long time, but Chanteclair across Macarthur Blvd from Orange County/John Wayne Airport is a good French restaurant and is quite convenient to the Performing Arts Center. As I remember, it also has very nice atmosphere and great service. I found the menu link, below, from a delivery service.



        1. re: elisha

          My first choice is one of the two restaurants owned and operated by Tim and Liza Goodell: Troquet (in Costa Mesa) and Aubergine (in nearby Newport Beach). If you're looking for a relatively quick pre-theater meal, I recommend Troquet. The menu is sophisticated bistro fare and the ambience is more informal than Aubergine, but the food, overall, is usually very good or better. Don't be put off by Troquet's location in the South Coast Plaza shopping center, on the fifth floor next to Nordstrom. Once inside the restaurant, it is very comfortable, and the food rarely disappoints, even though Tim Goodell now spends most of his time at Aubergine, leaving the kitchen at Troquet in the capable hands of his sous chef, Jeff Armstrong. The menu at Troquet will include things like celery root puree with duck confit and pears, Maryland crab galette with chipotle aiole and fried capers, and a signature dish of tender slow-braised veal cheeks braised with root vegetables. Aubergine is a more formal restaurant with three- and five-course menus as well as a nine-course tasting menu, as well as an a la carte menu. The food and ambience at Aubergine, for me, would be better enjoyed if I could linger without worrying about getting to the theater on time, especially given the longer drive from Newport Beach to the South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa. Troquet, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-6865; Aubergine, 508 29th St., Newport Beach, (949) 723-4150.

          Another recommendation is Pinot Provence, 686 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 444-5900. This is part of Joachim Splichal's "Pinot" restaurant group, so if you've eaten at some of his other "Pinot" restaurants in Los Angeles, you'll have a good idea of what to expect at Pinot Provence. As the name of the restaurant suggests, it features the cuisine of Provence, prepared under the guidance of French-born chef Marneau, formerly the chef de cusine at Aubergine. Joachim and his wife, Christine, have done a lovely job of decorating the restaurant with French antiques from Provencal. Like the rest of the Pinot restaurants, Pinot Provence has wonderful fresh oysters as an appetizer. Other menu items may include brandade fritters; braised artichoke ragout; foie gras on grilled pear and brioche; goat cheese and thyme gnocchi with English peas, pea sprouts, and tomatoes; and ox tail ravioli with Swiss chard. Like the other Pinots, the cooking here can be a little uneven at times, though it is generally good. The trade-off between Troquet and Pinot Provence, in my opinion, is marginally better food at Troquet versus better decor and ambience at Pinot Provence. You can't really go wrong at either place.

          Some folks tout the cooking of Alan Greeley at Golden Truffle, a French-Caribbean restaurant in Costa Mesa. But there is no decor to speak of, the service can be pretty awful at times, and the quality of the food is not known for its consistency. If you want to check it out sometime, call and make sure that Greeley is in the kitchen.

          If Thai food appeals to you, Bangkok Four, 3333 Bear St. (Sunflower Ave.), also in a shopping mall, has reasonably good Thai food in a nice atmosphere.

          Hope this helps.