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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.

    7 Replies
    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

            Hmmm....no 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. 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 Reply
                  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.

                  2. I can't think of the Goodells without remembering the remarks they made when they closed Aubergine a few years back. We prairie folk in Orange County "don't know what an aubergine is anyway." All will be forgiven, I guess, if this place turns out to be a hit. The Register gave it 4 stars (out of 5). S. Irene hasn't reviewed it yet for the L.A. Times, but the Goodells can't do anything wrong in her book. BTW, the website must have been updated, becauuse it lists prices now.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: OCKevin

                      I agree with you totally. The Goodells are strictly into making money and buying and selling restaurants. They are the least gracious restauranteurs I have ever run into, and I know them from way back. I ventured into A only once, to have a drink and was treated rudely by both the valets and the hostess...not surprising for a Goodell venture! When you look at what Troquet was...and what it is now, in its new iteration of Marche Moderne...it tells you everything about the Goodells. I have seen very few good things said about A...cdmedici is indeed in the minority. I would gladly have dinner at Mastro's any night, but you would have to twist my arm to treat me to dinner at A.

                      1. re: josephnl

                        Josephnl wrote " When you look at what Troquet was...and what it is now, in its new iteration of Marche Moderne...it tells you everything about the Goodells." Clarify, please!

                      2. re: OCKevin

                        But you know what ? i think they're absolutely right about that aubergine comment - the vast majority, even the Aubergine customers, didn't know. I, too, was resentful that they effectively pulled out of OC, but this was a business decision, and I can't fault them for it, really.

                      3. My wife and I went here this past Saturday night and we really enjoyed it - I had the octopus appetizer, which was very good, and my wife had the butternut squash soup, which she loved. Our salads were both excellent - she had the lettuce "wedge" with the housemade Roquefort, I had the burrata. For mains, I tried the A burger with fries, which was perfectly done with a nice brioche-style bun, nice thick smoky bacon and bleu cheese. The cone of fries was very good, reminded me of the fries at French 75 / Chat Noir. My wife ordered the scallops and they were de-lish. We were very full, but had to try a scoop of the salty caramel ice cream ,and we were glad that we did, it was perfect, with just the right balance of sweet and salt.

                        One quirky thing, that the wine-drinkers should be aware of: we ordered wines by-the-glass, and these were served in a sort of a goblet-or parfait-style glass (but with thinner sides, though not as thin as a proper wine stem). At first, we just kind of thought "oh well, that's kind of different but okay", but then after reflection, we realized that the glassware was not doing justice to our wines (we were not drinking jug wines- in fact we were paying plenty for our Chard and Cab Franc, and this was not a pizza joint where drinking cheap Chianti in juice glasses can be "rustic" and fun). We got our waittresses' attention, and she was more than happy to pour our wines into proper stems. But nonetheless we thought this was kind of strange. We asked the manager about this and he said the owners (so, the Goodells) had made this glassware decision as a sort of "style" gesture. Well, while we loved the rustic architectural style of this historic place, I draw the line at the wine - I think that if they're pouring the good stuff, it should be served in proper stems that complement the wine. We noticed that we were the only ones that had been served in the funny glasses and the manager said that's because most of the others are regulars and they know to ask for the "real" glasses -- so, what's the point of this silliness ? A bit of a prank that is played on "newbies" ?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kc girl

                          The ONLY decent thing about 'A' is the delicious lychee martinis.

                          1. re: mikester

                            As to French 75, French 75 Bistro (in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island) is a pretty restaurant with good food and service. They are part of a group of restaurants called Culinary Adventures that owns, among others, French 75 in Laguna, as well a Savannah Chop House in Laguna Niguel.

                            We had Sunday brunch there. They had a nice buffet with a New Orleans type Jazz band. There just wasn’t enough because there weren’t many patrons. The French Toast was the highlight food of the morning. The rest was marginal.

                            I heard they may be going broke. I have no idea if that is true, but do know that we used to patronize these two restaurants and stopped because of poor service and attitude. We had so much fun though.

                            Barry Shulman

                          2. This morning, I stopped in the A Market next door to take a look and sample some of the wares. The first thing I noticed were the prices - a little silver dollar-sized quiche, sticky bun and a coffee ran ten bucks. The second thing I noticed was its amazing pointlessness. Anything and everything you can buy in the "market" can be found - cheaper - at your local Whole Foods or Gelson's. What items of mild interest they did have - cheese and wine - were displayed with little or no appreciation for the customer. I would have liked to have known why a certain triple creme brie was considered special enough that the owners wanted to sell it.

                            It just so happens I arrived at the same time that some of the people running both the restaurant and market were there to greet a member of the local press. There was a loud, imposing huddle of gagglers, right in front of where one would order, but nobody bothered to tell customers just arriving and a line soon formed. Finally, someone cursorily mentioned to the confused gentleman behind the group, "Oh, we're not in line." What a way to let the media know how much you care about the customers. I came to the conclusion that the market is basically a vanity project for its owners. Sort of a cross between a big pantry and a low-end Dean & Deluca for the ostentatious Newport Beach set.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: OCKevin

                              Speaking of Dean & Deluca, I cannot wait until they open up in Fashion Island!

                              1. re: justagthing

                                That's right! I guess you can say A-dios to A-Market, then.

                                1. re: OCKevin

                                  There is a reason the Village Bakery, formerly owned by the Goodells never got off the ground and closed. I guess maybe they think it will work in a different location.

                                2. re: justagthing

                                  Any news on this, by the way ? Anyone heard when D & D will be opening ?

                                  1. re: mikester

                                    Since they are having to construct a brand new 85,000 sq. foot store their opening date was and still is sometime in 2009. The way these projects go I would anticipate it in the first quarter of the year. I imagine they will release more detailed information as they get closer to the actual date of opening.

                              2. A friend of mine and I went a last weekend. We rated it a 7+/8. We didn't get seated at one of the booths, but did sit in the first room, across from the bar. We enjoyed it there as we got to see the "comings and goings." This restaurant isn't for those that want a very quiet evening, especially on Saturday night.

                                We order the (5) choice charcuterie platter to start. We loved the chorizo and proscuitto, especially. The wooden board made a nice presentation.

                                Next we split the wedge. It's not your typical huge iceberg wedge, but rather a butter lettuce wedge (my personal favorite lettuce). The homemade roquefort was very yummy and the housesmoked bacon was terrific. The bacon was presented as a full piece, laying across the lettuce -- not your typical chopped pieces of bacon.

                                I had the bone-in filet and ordered it medium. It was cooked perfectly and I think I could have cut it with a fork. I did order the side of mushrooms, and this was the most disppointing part of the menu; they were flavorless and had the consistency of cardboard. My friend had the osso bucco and enjoyed it as well. He commented that it wasn't the best he had ever had, but it was good.

                                For dessert, he had the pumpkin pie tarte -- served in an individual graham cracker tart shell and topped with whipped cream. I had the gelato -- a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of salted caramel. The gelato was amazing! Very rich and smooth and full of flavor -- especially the salted caramel. (We go to Gelato Paradiso on Fashion Island regularly and this was by far the best gelato I have tried in Southern California. We got the waiter to tell us that they have it shipped in from "Jenny's Ice Cream."

                                All in all, we enjoyed our experience. We had an excellent server with "Ben," and I recommend him as well.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: cater2me

                                  I remember really loving Troquet when I ate there back in the 90s. One of the best bistros in socal. But towards the end of it's existence, it was lackluster. Almost like the owners or chef didn't care anymore. It's a shame Tim doesn't cook anymore because he was a talented chef.

                                  Now, Marche Moderne has taken the location and the food is phenomenal.

                                  1. re: david t.

                                    Agree that Marche Moderne is vastly better than Troquet ever was.

                                    Tim Goodell is a very talented chef and when he's in the kitchen things can be great. Unfortunately, I doubt you'll find him cooking at A very often.

                                2. Been living in the area for over 30 years and seen many restaurants come and go, this one will be going sooner than later.
                                  Other then the rip off for the parking fee, the following things occurred when we went for dinner with friends.
                                  When we entered the place we were overcome by the excessive noise, we asked for a table where we could hear each other so they seated us in the area furthest from the bar.
                                  We were unable to carry on a conversation due to the background bar noise.
                                  The waitress didn't know what reds were served by the glass and did not know the sides served with the entrees.
                                  I ordered the Colorado lamb chops and it was served with one chop layered over a lamb shank.
                                  This was not described on the menu.
                                  Tasted good but was luke warm.
                                  After having 2 glasses of wine we were asked 4 different times if we wanted another drink.
                                  By the way women guests should always be served first.