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Sep 15, 2008 01:15 PM

Need a nice restaurant in Newport Beach

We're going to a function on Sat. afternoon (on Lido) and will be staying over in Newport Beach (Marriott).

I don't know the area (restaurant wise) very well outside of the chains (Roys, Ruth's Chris, Mastros, Flemings, Chart House, etc.) and would like to find an nice (dark on the romantic side would be great) up to $50 pp not counting drinks/wine, tax or tip.

I searched the board but there aren't many recent postings (outside of Shushi, which is a no- no) about many places down here. How about the Cannery or Bayside? Cannery doesn't sound too romantic.

Steak, Italian or French are okay, no Sushi, Mexican, BBQ or Chinese. Help me please!


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  1. I've lived in this area for years, and two spots immediately come to mind. Bistango in Irvine is really a terrific spot. It's not terribly dark, but they have nice booths, wonderful contemporary decor, very good food (especially their steaks and rack of lamb...but they have everything), and live music. I think that on Saturday they even have dancing. It's owned by the same folks who own Bayside, but we like it somewhat better. Can easily do food for $50 pp.

    The other restaurant that I would consider, would be Sage (only consider the Eastbluff location). Only thing here is that eating indoors will not be at all romantic, but if it's warm enough, they have a wonderful ourdoor garden/patio which certainly would be romantic. It's a small neighborhood restaurant with excellent food and drinks, and would be in your budget.

    Although the Cannery is a pretty decent restaurant, I don't think it is as good as Bistango or Sage, and it is not at all romantic.

    1. The Balboa Bay Club Restaurant, forget the name ("First Cabin" ?) but it's open to the public.

      The Cannery is okay, not romantic. And it can be sort of a meat market on certain nights. However, they make SUPERB Bloody Marys.

      1. Dark on the romantic side would be 21 Oceanfront,
        but then you are also dealing with classic continental. Good food.
        But, don't order the seafod platter appetizer or you might laugh yourself silly at their presentation of it. For the most part, though their fish and meats are super fresh. Their service often excellent, but quite formal.
        I enjoy the oysters rockefeller and not many places still have those. I like much on their menu. Asian Pear salad, clam chowder, halibut. It would be easy to go over your $50 pp, but very possible not to.

        You're right, the Cannery isn't really dark and romantic.
        Neither is Bayside really, but its good upscale Italian. Patrons range from first dates to Hawaian-shirt neighbors.

        I'm sure you will get many recs.

        I would also recommend Roy's in Fashion Island as almost dark and romantic. It's cozy. I enjoy their menu.

        There are a few new restaurants like A-Restaurant and the newly remodeled Arches, but for "dark and romantic", I'd opt for 21 Oceanfront
        or, Rothschild's in Corona del Mar.

        6 Replies
        1. re: kc girl

          Another vote for Rothschild's; doable for 2 under $100 food only, i.e.:

          App to share - Smoked Salmon & Trout - $17
          Soup - 7
          Caesar Salad - 8
          Chicken - 19 (or, pasta 16 to 20).
          Filet - 34
          Dessert to share - 8

          Total = $93

          I realize that's all on their website, but list making is just in my blood.

          1. re: kc girl

            Thanks for all your prompt replies.

            I've decided on 21 Oceanfron (thanks kcg). It will definitely be over our budget but it looks perfect. I liked the menu (already can't decide what to have!). We'll definitly bring our own wine since while they have a fantastic wine list, the prices are equally fantastic!! I've made reservations requesting a booth with a view.

            A main consideration was that it's close to the party we're going to (1 mile) and 5 miles from our hotel.

            I'll report back next week and let you know what we thought of it.

            1. re: LesThePress

              Strongly urge you to reconsider. I've lived in this area for a long time and know the restaurants. Oceanfront can be very noisy (and noisy is not romantic!), the food is just ok, and it's quite expensive. Rothschild's, Bistango (only 15 minutes away) or Sage are IMHO much better choices.

              1. re: josephnl

                21 Oceanfront is very romantic, especially at sunset. Disagree about the noise. You'll love it. Service and food is great. Enjoy!

                1. re: diaz

                  What would Chowhounds be without opposing opinions. It urks me to see my favorite olaces get zinged and how amazing I find it that people give glowing reviews of places I can't stand and will never go back to. It's typical in Chowhound land.

                  Joseph, I appreicate your comments about Oceanfront, but I don't think I can beat the location, especially when we're drinking wine I want to be on the road as little as possible (no, I don't drive drunk, just want to be cautious). We have 6:30 reservations and sunset is at 6:51 pm. so it should be nice.

                  I'll be on the look out for the typical hot items: noise, service, food, etc) and will report back next week on how it went.

                  Thanks again all.

                  1. re: LesThePress

                    That's why we unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending upon your opinion), have red states and blue states.

                    I obviously have had a different experience from diaz. This happens depending upon the night, the phase of the moon, or different priorities. There are many restaurants which I love, and others don't...and vice versa. That's what makes the world go round. I would have chosen to go elsewhere, but Oceanfront 21 is a good restaurant, and I'm sure that you'll enjoy...I certainly hope so. Please have fun...and do report back.