Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Jul 22, 2002 01:49 AM

Fine Dining in Newport Beach area (Five Crowns)?

  • g

My husband and I will be in Newport Beach from Thursday thru Sunday. We have a night on our own and the company will pay for our meal. We like nicer, quieter type restaurants with atmosphere and good food, of course! A water view would be nice, but not necessary. Seafood or steaks.

Any really good places in the area? Any specific comments on Five Crowns, Flemings or Aqua?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For my money I'd go to The Bungalow on the Coast Highway at MacArthur in Corona del Mar. Not what I would describe as quiet (but quieter than Flemings), but the best steaks (bone-in rib eye, etc.) on PCH. Great atmosphere, drinks, wine list, service; just the best all around.

    Would also recommend Gulfstream, just across the street in Corona del Mar Plaza. Owned by the Houston's/Bandera people, but definately a cut above what the typical chain type restaurant is usually like. Specializes in seafood, but also has good steaks and a nice wine list. Great fresh oysters.

    Five Crowns is a special occasion restaurant with a mostly older crowd, but still adequate. Try The Ritz in Newport Center; new owner revampuing the menu, still a Newport Beach classic.

    Water views generally mean higher prices with mediocre food. Possible exception is 21 Oceanfront on the peninsula in Newport Beach for expensive continental with the best sunset view in town from a great bar. Thursday nights in CdM mean big time crowds of the beautiful people.

    2 Replies
    1. re: daveb

      Oceanfront 21 is still a little lacking in great service and food worth the price. The location is sensational and historic, though (one of the oldest buildings in Newport). And the entertainment (Donnie at the piano and singing) is most approachable and cordial. And, it does have the best sunset view (if you sit on the entertainment side). I'd suggest it if they don't want the long drive to Aqua in Monarch Beach. The ostrich appetizer is good, the Seafood platter appetizer is bad. They have a big selection of seafood, but their steaks are fairly run of the mill, as are their recipies. The waiters wear tuxes.

      1. re: kc girl

        i never see any restaurants in the huntington beadh westminster area. doesnt anyone go there or isnt tere any good ones? im looking for plaes you can go to that are not to expensive im on a limited income we are retired. thank you dotty

    2. I've heard Bungalow is overpriced for what you get. Oysters on the other hand has wonderful steaks and seafood. I would suggest getting there before 8 though. Perhaps a more romantic restaurant would be Mistral. It is set back off PCH on a tree-lined street Heliotrope. It has quite a bar scene later in the night (like everywhere else in Corona Del Mar on the weekends) but the dining room can be surprisingly quiet. Aqua isn't even in Newport. Its a half hour drive south in Monarch Beach. My pick would be Oysters. Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jake

        I agree that Oysters is excellent also, but it is one of the noiseiest places in town, and lacks The Bungalow's charm. Best thing about Oysters is the $3 glass of house wine and oyster sampler platter (8 for $7.50) at happy hour. They're right across Carnation from one another, so you can compare ambience & menus.

      2. Is Aubergine still active? I understand that it is excellent, though pricey. Same owners have Le Troquet which may be in Costa Mesa. The latter is less haute cuisine than the former, but also has an excellent reputation. I am an outlander so can't speak from personal experience. Can someone local report on these restaurants?

        13 Replies
        1. re: Jeremy Newel

          The word on the street is that Troquet is much better than Aubergine. Other places I would recommend in the NB area are Pascal (French and not near the water), Pinot (French and in Costa Mesa, across the street from South Coast Plaza), and the Golden Truffle (in Costa Mesa on the edge of Newport). Seeing as how you are looking for steak or seafood, my best recommendation would be the Golden Truffle. I have been there twice in the past month and it has to be one of the best restaurants in California. The first time I had the 40-day aged filet mignon-it was out of this world! The second time I had the macaroni and cheese with truffles and SO had a salmon dish. We also had oysters on the half shell. Everything was excellent and very creative. In addition, this week the Golden Truffle is having a "Surf and Turf" special, featuring a combination of steak and seafood (your choice of several combos). I think it runs today through Saturday.

          I have also been to Fleming's, and I thought it was good, but many on this board would disagree. It is just like a typical steakhouse, though I think Ruth's Chris has better steak.

          Lastly, I have heard mixed reviews about Five Crowns, but haven't been there myself so I can't really give an opinion. Anyway, if I were you and the ocean view wasn't all that important, I'd quickly make reservations at the Golden Truffle. I have a feeling this week will be especially busy because of the Surf and Turf special.

          1. re: Samantha

            I totally agree with all your recommendations and commend your culinary brilliance. I am a huge fan of Golden Truffle too and eat lunch there on Fri's 50 times a year plus an occasional dinner. Also the RITZ in Fashion Island would be my second choice followed by Troquet whose chef is going to WHIST in LA which opens in a week(another Goodell) restaurant.

            1. re: russkar

              Thanks for the compliment, but I have to tell you, I ended going to the Golden Truffle based on your recommendation. You truly have scouted out all the great Chowhound places in Southern California! Because of all of your recommendations I have a list a mile long of all the places I am dying to eat at. My SO and I have spent more money in the past 6 months eating out than we have in the past six years. But my goodness, we sure are enjoying it!!!

              1. re: Samantha

                Thanks for keeping the restaurant economy going. I was going to go to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a Wine dinner tomorrow night, but it's sold out! Then I was going to Josie's for a Wine dinner and it's sold out! Now what? I can't think of one restaurant in LA that I really want to visit or haven't already been to. Any thoughts? Recent visits have been to Angellini, Alex, Lucques,Campanile, Jar, Four Oaks, Valentino, Josies, Encore, Joe's , Melisse, Jiraffe, Patina, Pastina(I'll be there for lunch tomorrow-giant lobster-, La Cachette, Mimosa, Red Pearl kitchen, Water Grill, Morton's, Brandi wine, etc. I'm waiting for Whist in W.LA to open next week.

                1. re: russkar

                  Oh, the drama of trying to find a place to eat!!! I go through this all of the time (except, of course, I don't have your budget so in general my everyday choices are slightly lower end). Anyway, I have been trapped in OC for the past 11 weeks studying for the bar exam, which is next week, but after that I will be free and plan on eating at several restaurants in LA to celebrate. Your list is very impressive-I would gladly go to any, but I have especially wanted to try Luques. Is it a good place for lunch? I am thinking about taking two college friends there for a birthday lunch. Anyway, I don't think you can go wrong with any of your choices. Hope you find a place suitable to your liking for tomorrow night! I am so envious!

                  1. re: Samantha

                    Lucques is very good , Pepin told me he thought it was some of the best food he's had in LA, I like it too, Kar isn't as warm about it. The previous list wasn't possible choices but recent experiences. I want something awesome, but what?

                    1. re: russkar

                      I am sure that you have been there, but what about the Bel-Air Hotel Dining Room? It looks beautiful-the food and the restaurant. I have been trying to get my SO to take me there (hopefully soon!).

                      1. re: Samantha

                        Friends have mentioned that it's not up to par lately but I've always enjoyed it. New Chef and a goofy Corkage Policy.

                      2. re: russkar

                        About a year and a half ago I had the prix-fixe dinner at "The Dining Room" at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Liguel. The room, the service, and the meal blew me away. I think it was at least 6 courses with the option of each course paired with a wine.

                  2. re: Samantha

                    Oops I forgot to mention that GOLDEN TRUFFLE has a 3 course dinner on Wed nights only for 29.95, what a deal! Call first!

                    1. re: russkar

                      Oh, yes. My SO is on the Golden Truffle's e-mail list now, so we get periodic emails reminding us of the deals and specials. Haven't been on a Wednesday yet, but it sounds like a fabulous deal.

                  3. re: russkar

                    While I agree the food is wonderful at these locations, (all quite differnet from each other) in fact, the Golden Truffle outshines all food-wise, the surrounding city atmosphere is less appealing then say, Corona del Mar (Five Crowns) or the beach waterfront (Aqua in Dana Point harbor). And, Russ, you have to admit the interior design ambience at the Golden Truffle is extremely casual while their food and service rates elegant. It is also the priciest.

                    While South Coast Plaza is one of the nicest shopping malls in California (where Troquet is located), their experience of inner-metro dining will ruin their quiet, elegant atmosphere as soon as then exit the restaurant. It would linger longer on the water.

                    The opportunity to vacation near the shoreline is upon them. Although they can go there in San Francisco, I would say, go to Aqua for all of your requested atmosphere, good food, and water view. The service is the best there and when they are done, they exit to a quiet, darkened surrounding area with a long, quiet drive together, back up the coastline 10 miles to Newport Beach.

                    And, with that thought - what about suggesting they go to Savoury’s in Laguna Beach on Coast Highway. Now, that would include the ambience of the Five Crowns and Aqua.

                    1. re: kc girl

                      Nothing like responding to a seven year-old post! LOL.... But this is the most recent post mentioning the Golden Truffle I found after a brief search.

                      The Sturdy Wench and I ate dinner at GT the other night with two friends. We found the service exemplary--the head waiter was friendly, efficient, and kept a close eye on our water and wine levels, as well as checking our reactions to food, making sure we were happy with our meal. He had mastered the art of surveillance without hovering, we never felt spied on or intruded upon by him, but he always was there the moment our glasses, bread plates, et al needed refills.

                      For starters I had the lobster bisque (8) and the ench and I split a Caesar salad (10?). The bisque was medium dark and clearly had begun with a roux, and tasted of lobster meat, not shells. In each of our bowls was a whole small claw of tender lobster meat. The bisque was thick, smoother than a politician, and the gastronomic equivalent of pure, uncut China White heroin in a bowl. To eat this soup was to ruin yourself for any lesser bisque but do so at the slow, skilled, knowing hands of a Solomonic courtesan. A+

                      The Caesar salad lettuce was romaine, crisp, green and fresh, with a homemade dressing. The waiter said there were anchovies in the dressing, but I didn't taste them, as I was still reeling from the ecstasy of being bludgeoned with that bisque. A-.

                      A glass of wine, a piece of bread or two and several minutes of attempted conversation later, and I had more or less recovered.

                      Then they brought the 24-hour pit roasted brisket with nutmeg mashed potatoes (approx $24). It blew away our expectations. Absolutely tender, moist, flavorful slabs of brisket about 5" long, 3" wide, and 3" thick atop beds of silky, ultra-buttery mashed potato with chunks of unstrained potato in it to add texture and interest. A+

                      This was the most perfectly braised and roasted piece of beef I've ever had, and--this really galls me to say--the potatoes were far better than mine.

                      I need to have a quick lie-down after re-experiencing that brisket and bisque, so I'll end here by saying the Sturdy Wench and I have made the Golden Truffle an unquestioned must-stop any time we're anywhere in the area. Take our advice and make it one of yours, too.

                      (The only negative is the decor--ghastly pale teal and light salmon pink walls. Blergh. You'll be too focused on the food to care about decor, tho.)

              2. Hey Ginny,
                Another fine restaurant in the Newport Beach/Fashion Island area is Tutto Mare. They have a varied menu with seafood and pasta dishes. Very romantic and I found the service to be excellent.

                1. In my experience in several cases, I would not consider Five Cowns even in the top 20 restaurants in OC.