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OC - Any Suggestions for a Birthday Dinner

The wife wants to take me out to dinner for my birthday next week, and for some reason I can't decide where to go. I'd like to try someplace I haven't been to, so Marche Moderne, OVC, and Bluefin are out. Price really isn't a concern as long as it's worth it. I like and eat everything, so I'm game for any cuisine. Doing dinner with the family the following night, so probably shouldn't do a steakhouse. So far I've come up with Napa Rose and Stonehill Tavern (although I'm not sure I want to drive to/from Dana Point from/to Huntington after work on a weeknight). Thought about Charlie Palmers, but with the disparity in reviews I've seen this week in the papers (Times gave it 1/2 a star, and Register gave it 5 stars), not feeling too good about it. Where should I go?

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  1. I had Mr OCAnn take me to Stonehill Tavern for my bday. We made reservations for a later dinner (for us) @ 8:00 and traffic wasn't a problem We went w/their tasting menu w/wine flights. I was stuffed, but the meal was very good...and the bill came to just under $450 for 2 (after tax & tip). Service & atmosphere were really nice.

    But I really like Napa Rose too. The atmosphere @ NR is a bit more relaxed/casual than ST; it's closer too. I think they're both equally nice...but I might give an edge to NR due to proximity (for me) and possibly even food.

    That said, both are great choices. I'd put them easily in the top 3 of OC.

    1. Old Vine Cafe in Costa Mesa. Both tasting menus are fantastic. The wine paired with each meal will definitely wow you.


      1 Reply
      1. re: anons

        I 2nd OVC and see that they are offering a beer pairing option for their seasonal tasting menu in the month of October. Bonus!

      2. I'd go with Napa Rose, it's never let us down as a special-occasion place.

        1. How about Wildfish or Bungalow in Newport Beach, Sapphire, Five Feet or Tabu Grill in Laguna. I am thinking of places I would want to go if it were my birthday. OVC is good, but I wouldn't want to go there for a special occasion dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ccash25

            avoid five feet. this place hasn't been good for years.

          2. My two favorite bday dinner places in OC are Marche Moderne (which I see is disqualified) and Pascal.

            1. Thanks for all of your suggestions. I ended up choosing Napa Rose, and it was great for the occasion. I ordered the chef's tasting menu, along with the 4 wine pairings, and it was a truly epic meal. The wife ordered the Snapper, since I had offered to share a little of each of my courses and she didn't think she could finish all of the tasting menu. That was a good idea because I had some trouble finishing everything, but I managed to power through it all.
              Started with an amuse bouche: persimmon puree topped with goat cheese, the tartness of the puree was nicely balanced w/ the creaminess of the goat cheese.
              Then I had an absolutely perfectly cooked piece of sea bass on top of an heirloom tomato, w/ a tartar sauce relish. This was nicely paired with a mild Pinot Gris.
              Then came a little veal tenderloin? with a mixed green salad w/ julliened pieces of sweet potato, and a glass of syrah. A solid dish, with a good balance between the savory veal and the light salad w/ a little bitterness.
              The main course was supposed to be quail in a mushroom and onion sauce, served with a crispy side of mashed-potato combined with cheese and green chile chunks and slices on top. They were out of quail, so I had the option of substituting in a different duck breast dish from the regular menu, or just subbing the duck in for the quail in the tasting menu dish. I liked the sound of the tasting menus components, so I just subbed in the duck, and it was the right way to go. The potato/green chile side was one of the best side dishes I've had in a long time. It basically tasted like a chile relleno, but with the texture of a mashed potato/hash brown hybrid. The duck was good, but it was surprisingly overshadowed by the side. The wine pairing was a glass of Black Chicken Zinfandel.
              The wife's snapper dish came w/ a piece of shrimp tempura on the side and some rice IIRC. A pleasant dish that she paired w/ a riesling.
              For Dessert, had a quince crisp with date ice cream. I had struggled to finish the duck, so I didn't have too much of this dessert. I'm more of chocolate for dessert kind of guy, so I wasn't too big of a fan of this. but the mrs. seemed to like it. This was paired w/ a late harvest chardonnay that was simply superb. According to our waiter, you won't fine this anywhere else. I didn't know a chard could taste this sweet, basically like drinking honey.
              All in all, the best meal I've had all year. And isn't that what a birthday dinner should be.

              4 Replies
              1. re: I got nothin

                Happy belated birthday!!! Thanks for reporting back; glad you enjoyed your meal.

                1. re: I got nothin

                  Do you happen to remember or have written down the name of that Chardonnay?

                  1. re: JAB

                    Unfortunately I do not remember the name of the late harvest chard. I do remember that our waiter told us that their Master Sommelier Michael Jordan (I heard he also has a nice fade-away jumper to go along w/ his wine skills) went up to a vineyard in Napa and sampled it and ordered as much of it as he could. Supposedly, it is not available in stores yet.

                  2. re: I got nothin

                    Sounds delicious. I'll have to remember Napa Rose.