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May 4, 2008 10:44 AM

A Restaurant is open (former Arches in Newport Beach)

My wife and I went to A Restaurant last night. It was their second night open. I usually like to wait until a restaurant gets the kinks out but I have been looking forward to this restaurant opening for a long time. The Goodell’s who brought us Aubergine and Troquet opened this restaurant. Aubergine and Trouquet were some of the finest restaurants OC has seen and when they closed there was a huge vacuum of great high end dining leaving our county.

This is the old Arches location and Tim and Lisa Goodell certainly did it justice. It has retained its old school vibe while giving it a fresh look at the same time. I instantly felt relaxed the moment I walked in.

Don’t expect high-end event type dining at A Restaurant. This restaurant is exactly what our town needs, that is a great, straightforward unpretentious restaurant with high quality food at reasonable prices.

All of the staff was extremely courteous with none of the attitude I have come to expect from the new trendy restaurants. In fact there is nothing trendy about this place at all and that in my opinion is a good thing. I love getting dressed up and going to Mastro’s or Providence as much as the next person, but sometimes I just want to enjoy great food with feeling like I am in style competition.

We ended up kicking it at the bar and dining there as well. The wine list….FINALLY a great wine list with about 100 bottles of wine that cost less then $100. I ended up getting an Australian Grenache for I think $60.

We started with a charcutiere plate. The selection is tremendous and they even have the real deal Jamon Iberico from Spain. After that we ordered Octopus. It was amazing! Probably the best I have ever had. It had the perfect balance of flavors and was cooked perfectly.

Next came what they call Roasted Bacon. I checked to see that is was roasted pork belly and it indeed was. I really needed this dish because the last time I had roasted pork belly at Mesa it was disappointing. As you can imagine, pork belly is very fatty but this was served with caramelized turnips that cut through the fattiness.

We then ordered Chicken Liver Terrine that was served with toasted bread. I have become a fan of chicken liver ever since enjoying it a Mozza. I usually stick to goose or duck liver. This version at A Restaurant has totally changed my opinion that Foi Gras is the only way to enjoy liver pate.

While I as scarfing the chicken liver my wife was enjoying French Onion soup. French Onion soup really isn’t my thing but this was very tasty. I think they used Vidalia onion because there was sweetness to it.

Sadly we had a big lunch and I was full at this point so we called it a night. We plan on going back very soon and actually getting an entrée. BTW most of the entrees are in the $12 to $22 dollar range with only the steaks being in the $35 and up range.

It has been a while since a new restaurant has exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend this place.

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    1. I've been waiting for this post! I'm in Newport once a week like clockwork and was shocked when I drove by once and The Arches was closed...think it had been there since the '30's or something. Now i read the Goodell's have opened there (Aubergine had been one of my favorites) and with the review cdmedici has posted, can't wait. Peculiar name though lol.

      1. re: onedrummer

        Yes..the name is a tough one to Google. I did find the website though.

        Here it is.

        1. re: cdmedici

          Sounds like one not to miss. Would love to see an online menu though.

          1. re: 1000steps

            There is one, go to the website link above, then click on "A Restaurant", and a "Menu" option appears on the page of the little book displayed on the website

            1. re: I got nothin

     prices on posted menu. Always nervous making. Any comments by those who have been there?

              The Arches prices went out of sight before and after they moved..

              1. re: thebaron

                from what remmber not as expensive as the old arches.....they pretty much have a burger and pasta from $14 entrees $24 and of course high end steaks for $30+. not cheap though.

                the quality for what you pay for is way better than the old arches and I loved that place.

                1. re: thebaron

                  Considering OC's newest upscale restaurants like Sapphire, Mesa, Crow Bar and especially Mastro's this place is an incredible value for the food quality.

                  I have only been once but I saw the many other entrees coming out of the kitchen and I was very impressed.

                  1. re: thebaron

                    The prices ARE on the online menu...the whole menu is kind of small so you probably just missed them. Overall, medium expensive, daily pasta specials look delicious and are pretty INEXPENSIVE...easily the best deals it looks to me.

        2. Looks like this is a restaurant that one needs to go to fast to experience the kind of food you did. Unfortunately the Goodell's are in the habit of opening restaurants, and then either selling them or deserting them, especially those in Orange County...think the Lodge, Troquet, Aubergine, Red Pearl Kitchen in Huntington Beach, etc. It is not optimistic for this current venture that the website states "Currently, Tim and Lisa Goodelll are the owner operators"!! Unfortunately the Goodells seem to be more interested in the business of restaurant entrepreneurship than in planting roots and consistently producing excellent food in one location.

          5 Replies
          1. re: josephnl

            And you forgot criticizing their OC customer base as they sell or abandonn the restaurant...

            1. re: lawdog262

              Please elaborate on your comment. I'm not sure I understand why their customer base should be criticized.

            2. re: josephnl

              I think you misread the intention of the paragraph. I believe they mean that this restaurant has a ton of history with different owners and operators since it opened in 1925. The last being Dan Marcheano of The Arches.

              I didn't get at all that they were just going to move on. In fact after going there and experiencing it for myself I got opposite impression. This is not an special event or trendy restaurant but it seems more like a great neighborhood restaurant that one would go to weekly.

              Frankly...I am quite stoked that a restauranteurs like The Goodell's took the risk to open this place. My fear was that it would be torn down or turned into another boat supply store.

              1. re: cdmedici

                I hope you are right that the Goodell's are there to stay. I too would hate to see the Arches disappear. But from their prior history in OC and their use of the phrase that "Currently the Goodell's are the owner operators..." makes me pause.

                It's sad to see landmarks disappear. Do you remember the Stuft Shirt in Newport. Their wonderful bayfront building is still there, but alas it's been many years since this iconic Newport restaurant closed.

                1. re: josephnl

                  I know the place is at least partly owned by McG, the Newport Beach born film director.

            3. NOT IMPRESSED!
              Any restaurant that nickel and dimes its patrons by charging a $5.00 valet parking fee is tacky. Especially when they have an empty parking lot the size of a football field! The 18 year old
              bimbettes actually had the nerve to chase us into the place once we were sitted for
              dinner -- to collect their $5.00! We left and drove to Javier's, south on PCH, where they
              know how to treat their clientele.

              1. I wanted to like this place. Really I did. Based on the reviews here I took my team from work here for a farewell dinner. I knew about the 'valet girls' so that was fine. When we walked in, there were 5, yes 5, girls at the desk to seat us. They sat us in the bar (we had dinner reservations). I thought it was weird but we had a drink. The bar was getting louder and louder so we asked to move to the main dining room. They obliged immediately - not sure why we were there in the first place.

                The Food: We shared all the salads on the menu - the best one was the iceberg with blue cheese and bacon. The others were just ok. I had the pasta entree. It was ok. Nothing special. My colleague had the tuna that looked kind of dry. It was served with fries and nothing else. No suggestion from the waiter to add a side or something. Halibut was good according to my colleague. We shared desserts. Again, all ok nothing special. The banana cream pie was the stand-out.

                Then the waiter really annoyed me by bringing the check before asking if we wanted coffees or anything else. Come on its not Dennys! Our coffees were comped.
                By the time we left the bar was unbearable noise-wise (glad we moved) - the 5 girls who had greeted us were circling chatting to the fat old men in the bar. NOW I know what purpose the serve.

                Anyway - overall it was a disappointing experience. Give me Bayside, Marche Moderne, or Leatherby's Cafe Rouge any time!

                1 Reply
                1. re: ausfrench

                  Agree completely. By the way...if you like Bayside (which we do!), you may like Bistango in Irvine even better (it's under the same ownership, and we always have liked it a tad more than Bayside.)

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Wow! Since I originally wrote this post back in May my wife and I have been back about 10 times, most recently last night. I must say that I have yet to have a bad experience at A Restaurant.

                    Last night we had several new things on the menu. After our cheese course we split the Duck Confit Salad. It was hands down the best version I have ever had....truly over the top delicious with way more duck that lettuce. In fact…this could be the best salad I have ever had in my life. We followed with Monk Fish and Pork Osso Buco. They also were both perfectly prepared.

                    Besides the food being terrific, I love the vibe and energy of this place. The crowd is very eclectic from young and hip to older and sophisticated.

                    Regarding your review…I am not saying that you had bad scallops, but I guarantee that if you said something the staff would of corrected your dish pronto. The service has always been very professional. Last night they were about four managers working the floor making sure everything was running smoothly and the chef himself came out after our meal to make sure we enjoyed our night.

                    As far as the sides are concerned, you criticize them for "dinner at home fare", and then go on to praise Mastro's sides which are very much "dinner at home" sides. By the way...I love Mastro's and go quite often and also like there sides. FYI...there are no Hash Browns served at Mastros.

                    I have not had the chocolate cake, but I have had the Caramel Custard and it trumps the Butterscotch Budino at Mozza.

                    I see this is your first Chowhound post and look forward to seeing your reviews in the future. Hopefully your next post will be about a restaurant you find worthy of a great review.

                    1. re: cdmedici

                      I just looked over the menu for "A Restaurant" and now I'm inspired to get down here for brunch. If you do the brunch I hope you will post and if I get here first I'll add it to your very comprehensive reviews. Thanks for posting.