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Charlie Palmer's at Bloomingdales

Has anyone been to the new Charlie Palmer's at Bloomingdales in South Coast Plaza yet? It just opened this week. His Aureole Restaurant in New York is quite wonderful, so am anxious to hear about this venture.

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  1. No where near LA here but I really respect CP. He is a very good Chef and we never miss a chance to eat at Aureole in Vegas.

    1. It's sooo new I hate to make any pronouncements, but here are just the facts:

      Handsome room, open airy, lightfilled. Odd access (best bet is to park by Bloomies' southernmost exposure). Best seating is in the central; area, I will avoid the east wall area due to noise.

      Massive wine list made even more daunting by its PDA-type format. When you tire of messing with it, they will gladly provide a hard copy. Next time, I'll ask for that up front. Impressively moderate pricing on wines (hence,$25 corkage).

      Upscale, polished service. Not at all fussy.

      Menus are now online. My bacon wrapped quail (a waiter recco) was awesome. Salumi platter, a starter, was pure delight (far too much for one, could serve 3). The pureed yokon golds were excellent.Desserts uniformly dazzling (I had the Gianduja with roasted marshmallow). My date's flatiron steak had was one of the best I've ever had in a restaurant.

      Cocktails were primo, and priced that way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: OCBites

        Wow, sounds really good ! Thanks,

      2. here are some pictures from opening night
        http://la.eater.com/archives/2008/06/...

        Of the food we tried--and it was a lot--I most liked the charcuterie plate (all made in house), the tortellini ap was great, as was the pork belly. Friends each had a steak--the filet with blue cheese crust and NY strip were both superb. I liked my lamb, cooked beautifully nicely seasoned, but loved the tiny pile of braised lamb shoulder on the plate more. Sides: our potatoes gratin were not cooked all the way through, but flavor was good; creamed spinach delightful as was the asparagus. But the farro risotto with morels OH so good, should be an entree. Also liked the crimini with oxtail ragout. The wines were killer, desserts fantastic just a bit more deconstructed for my taste. We had one server that was kind of flaky in that firs-night way, but earnest. The lounge menu looks absolutely superb, and of the two cocktails I tasted, both were well-balanced and very very sippable, especially the cosmo one my friend had which sounded sweet but spot on. All in all, I wish it was in LA.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lesleyb

          Had a great meal on Friday night. Chef Palmer greeted our party personally and came by after the meal to see if we enjoyed the meal. The answer was a resounding yes! Had the scallops in spicy tomato broth with crab. Lovely. My sister had the lamb with apricot and it was delicious. I'm not a big lamb fan either. The vanilla roasted pineapple with brown sugar cake was just tremendous. The restaurant is a welcome addition to Orange County.

        2. Went to CP's last night, and although the experience was mixed, this place has enormous potential which I really think (and hope) will be met.

          Pluses:
          Beautiful room
          Very polite, polished, and warm service...anxious to please
          Terrific and fairly priced wine list (on a notebook pc no less!)
          Interesting and generally well-executed menu
          Management very open to comments and suggestions

          Minuses...all of which are easily correctible, and may be due to newness of restaurant
          Cocktails although good, were obviously too small (martini glass filled 70%%)
          Some foods were not hot, and one person's fish was overcooked and dry
          Desserts although excellent were a bit too precious (read small!)
          Attention to detail sometimes missed (served a glass of ice without an accompanying spoon or tongs, tap water poured into our glasses of bottled Pelligrino, etc.)

          We had a very nice evening, will surely return and bet that some of these minuses will be corrected in short order!

          1. Thanks for the mini-review. A promising restaurant at South Coast is always good.

            1. what a TERRIBLE meal. the service was great but the food was definitely not up to Charlie Palmers Standards. I don't think that i'll be going back, rather spend more and go to maestro's.

              but the service was great. the wine prices are also really good (retail)

              my father had the duck. i rate this at a 7/10 scale
              my brother had the lobster he rated this at a 8/10 scale
              my mother had the salmon we all rated this at a 0/10 scale.
              i had the filet which i had ordered rare but came out well done. 6/10

              i think something is wrong with the chowhound site for double posting .

              1. Went back to Charlie Palmer's again last evening. Not much has changed since my previous posting. It is still a beautiful room with excellent service. The wine list is terrific and very well priced, and the sommelier Chris is very knowledgeable and helpful and anxious to please. The menu is interesting and although expensive, seems appropriately priced for this type of restaurant. The dining room staff are certainly the strong point of this restaurant; they are knowledgeable, professional, warm and very anxious to please. Unfortunately, the problems which were present six weeks ago, remain pretty much the same,

                Minuses:
                Cocktails although good, were obviously too small (martini glass filled 70%)
                Some foods were not hot (2/4 entrees and 1 side needed to be sent back because they were cold.
                Details were off as before: One person ordered the salume plate and was served fois gras. I ordered chicken which was unrecognizable as such when served; it was two vertical cylinders of chicken meat (perhaps timbales is a better description) held together by a forcemeat of some kind. It was pretty tasty, but the menu gave no hint that it would not be a more traditional presentation, and indeed I thought I had been served the wrong entree.
                Some portions were "too precious" (read small).

                So, as I said previously, this restaurant has all the potential to be outstanding, but it doesn't seem to be making appropriate progress in fixing its shortcomings.

                1 Reply
                1. re: josephnl

                  We finally were able to dine at Charlie Palmer's before our show last night. I was a bit wary due to mixed reviews in general but I think it always fair to give a new restaurant a few months to "gel". Also, two of our friends had eaten there and both gave CP a thumbs up esp on their well priced wine list.

                  The decor is quite nice. The furniture was classy and comfortable and we especially liked the chandeliers. I love the open and airy aspects of the main room and the noise level was never too loud even after the restaurant was full.

                  The service was all class from the moment we sat down. From the sommelier
                  to our servers and to the manager, all were warm and friendly and eager to please. They knew we had a show to attend but we never felt rushed, food came out in a timely manner, and even had time for dessert. Our water glasses were always filled and even the bread basket was offered a number of times.

                  For food, we started off with appetizers of the seared fois gras and the octopus carpaccio paired with an Italian dessert wine and sake respectively.
                  Both were delicious. For our entrees, we had the filet and flat iron steak and shared sides of brochollini, toasted ginger mushrooms and the cous cous. Both perfectly cooked medium rare and all 3 sides were excellent. Paired with a tasty Brunello that was well priced, we were happy campers that the food matched the level of the decor and service. My wife even commented how much she liked their steak knives.
                  To end the meal, we shared a chocolate cake with a glass of madeira and coffee....just in time to enjoy our Broadway show, very content.
                  Price was fairly high for just the two of us but was well worth it.
                  We definitely will be back to try some of the seafood entrees and will be adding CP to our short list of pre-theatre dinner options.

                2. My husband and I ate here Friday night to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. I agree, the decor, service and wine list are amazing. I was substantially less impressed with our food. Maybe we just didn't order the "right" things. I started with the roasted corn soup. It had chanterelle mushroom tortellinis and some sort of foam on top. It was quite delicious and easily the best part of both of our meals. My husband had their nightly app special which was a seafood sausage. His impression- "meh."

                  For entrees I had the butter poached lobster and he had the crispy sea bass. My lobster was extremely fishy tasting and the texture was not firm, as I would expect. It was either several days old or had been previously frozen, neither of which I would expect of an entree that costs $43. It tasted a few minutes underdone, which given the fact that I am 35 weeks pregnant had me slightly concerned. I wasn't sure if I was just being too picky though so I didn't send it back. (also we were headed to a concert after dinner so I didn't want to take up too much time waiting for a new entree.) My husband's sea bass was actually pretty good, but not great.

                  For sides we ordered the trumpet mushrooms, which were big, hearty and delicious, and marinated in a balsamic based marinade then grilled. We also ordered the artichokes which were just ok.

                  We ran out of time so didn't have dessert but they brought us complimentary sugar beignets with an espresso dipping sauce that were the perfect small bite of something sweet to send us on our way.

                  Overall, we both agreed that we would go back and try again (taking heed to do some more research on what entrees outshine the others) because we loved the room and vibe so much. Also, I'd love to get my hands on that wine (and cocktail) list once this baby is born!

                  1. I went and was not impressed. We tried most all of the appetizers and found the flavors clumsy and brash. I expected something more from a restaurant bearing Mr. Palmer's name. Maybe it just needs time. See: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/06/char...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kevin h

                      There's another Charlie Palmer thread out there as well. We went a couple of weeks back, and found it solid but forgettable. Its basically a hotel dining room in the mall, and peopled with tourists from the Westin. There are numerous better choices in the immediate vicinity, including Marche Moderne, Onotria and Pascal.

                    2. I feel the need to jump in here on what is, in my opinion, an overly negative thread. I dined at Charlie Palmer's earlier this week and absolutely enjoyed it.

                      I was dining alone - treating myself after a rough week - and went to CP primarily because I was jonesing for foie gras. The waitstaff was kind and accommodated me as a last-minute, no reservations walk-in. I was seated in a corner in the main dining room. I was reading a book to pass the time and no one seemed to bat an eye at this. To the contrary, one of the staff members even asked if he could bring over a stronger light for me to read by, which I thought was sweet.

                      But on to the food... the servers brought out an amuse bouche of bruschetta in a shot glass. You ate it with a spoon and it was yummy and crisp and refreshing.

                      Then I had the beet salad, which was a mixture of pureed and whole roasted beets on a bed of creamy goat cheese. It was wonderful and, for a salad, huge and filling.

                      Next up, I ordered also from the appetizer menu, and this was the Hudson Valley Foie Gras served on a waffle (a waffle!) with apple butter and cranberry caramel. This was the dish I came for. I adore foie gras and had been craving it and it fulfilled all my hopes and expectations. The foie was warm and velvety and creamy. The waffle was a strong compliment and the apple butter pulled it all together bringing the sweetness. It was a huge size of foie, too.

                      By this point I was already full, and also trying to not bust the bank. (Remember, this was a lark, a last minute splurge.) I probably should have just called it a night but ventured into the dessert menu anyway.

                      The dessert was my only disappointment; I ordered the Molten Chocolate. The chocolate was too rich for my tastes, but the espresso ice cream was excellent and tempered the chocolate.

                      In all, I left the restaurant happy, relaxed and full. I would definitely go back and venture further into the menu.