Christmas Party 20 guests Orange County
Check out A La Carte Gourmet in Newport Beach, they are located on the Balboa peninsula by the ferry. I attend several party there and was very please with the service and the food. The best is you can reserve the whole restaurant for 20 people. The restaurant have a warm intimate European ambiance, but the owner is able to change the decor that will suit your request. They were voted the best caterer and special event production in OC 2008 by My Fox LA hotlist.
Two places not mentioned (I don't think) which would be high on my list are:
1) Bistango in Irvine. Same management as Bayside which has already been mentioned, but I think they have slightly better food, and they have a rather nice private room. Atmosphere is very contemporary and nice.
2) Marche Moderne at South Coast Plaza. This is, of course, an excellent very upscale French bistro. They had a very nice private patio which I think can be fully enclosed and is certainly heated. They have terrific food and drink.
Another thought is Mastro's Steakhouse near South Coast Plaza. They have great food and drink, but it's very pricey. They do have some very nice private dining rooms.
Mesa Restaurant sounds like an ideal setting for you.
I have been there a couple of times and am always blown away by the food and ambiance. Situated along Baker Street adjacent to The Camp in Costa Mesa, this is a casual albeit upscale place with an eclectic menu that doesn't mince on great ingredients, flavor or personality. It is definitely not the mass production of hotel food!
One of my favorite details about this place is the dining room, which is a designers paradise. Simple, crisp, elegant that's lit up with votive candles, small fireplaces and the restaurant's roof retracts like a sunroof in a car, which means you can star gaze while eating, which let's be honest, is pretty cool.
They have lots of room for parties here, service is impeccable, small plates and big plates and they have an amazing cocktail and wine selection. Worth a look for sure. Here's a link to the LA Times article that came out about Mesa in January: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/...
As others have mentioned here, don't discount Studio at The Montage. It's definitely unlike "hotel" food. I was just there on Friday: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/10/stud...
The cuisine is French-influenced and arguably the best in orange County. I found the place quite intimate, yet comfortable. The Private Dining Room seats up to 24 and you should be able to get out of there for $200 a head, IF you take it easy on wine.
re: kc girl
It will be evening so a view is not necessary. We really are looking for something elegant, special up to $200 per head . I think our thought about not doing a hotel is keeping with the theme of intimate. In regards to catering, no. We have to be in OC to accomodate his S.D people and it's 1/2 way.
Any great French places you can think of? I think I'd rather avoid parade traffic...Thanks kc girl.
Pascal is French, but his tiny little restaurant on Bristol in Newport Beach may not be as elaborate as you might want for a Christmas party (though the food would be the best) If they could open the Cafe Jardin for you at night, that would be perfect, but the venue does not belong to them. It is within Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar. Just ask him what venues he can suggest to you for his food.
Another very good French is Pinot Provence, but that quant little restaurant is within a hotel called The Westin at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
The chef at Studio at the Montage is French (James Boyce), however, he changes his menu and conducts continental inspirations. It might be more than $200 per, however, it is worth finding out from them. That hotel is large, but the specialty restaurant is a small stand alone building on the cliffs . In that one area, a room for about five tables and slding doors to the patio tables, it is quite private and intimate. "That area" is up fron to the far left. It is an area down a hallway past one kitchen doorway (kitchen not visible) and is about 15' X 25" and is like you're in someone's dining room. It might be just what you are looking for (if it is still available). Just ask specifically for seating in area on the far far left. Get the second seating so that you are not rushed out of there for the next seating, but be prepared fro lingering people - that's why the patio is a good idea to join in - outside people don't feel as i they have to sit down, but they can. - Oh,okay, the website says that area is called The Private Dining Room (not the Chef's Table for 12) That's where you should have your party.
Frankly, it is quite hard to have 20 people in a restaurant feel intimately taken care of if not in a private room. So, will keep thinking.
Another choice for high quality, good-old-boy American steak and seafood continental is 21 Oceanfront in Newport Beach -- ON THE BEACH parking lot at the Newport Beach pier. Very elegant from the valet inward. They have a private rooms for dining. Check the menu and see if you will go for high quality continental menu instead of French. The have one room to accommodate 35 people, the other rooms are for more.
This is not easy. I don't feel it is just right yet. Hoping for more.
One more French restaurant (and quite popular new one) is Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. I haven't been there, but much has been written about it on this board. Freeway close, AND in a huge elegant shopping center - next to Nordstrom parking lot. South Coast Plaza: Level 3, The Penthouse
(careful, music is loud and no OFF - you have to use your own volume control button until it loads)
Could your "intimate place" be a private home and a caterer? Is your company that intimate?
Would you consider contacting Pascal and see if he is available at Cafe Jardin in Corona del Mar for a special party? It's usually just for lunch, but - Xmas??!!!! maybe?
He is wonderful.
Tradition by Pascal
1000 Bristol Street North, Newport Beach, CA, 92660
I don't know your budget or wishes other than "intimate" "fantastic food" and no "hotel" food.
Or, how about continental Italian at Bayside in Newport Beach? They have a private table/room that could accommodate 20 (though crowded). Christmas Boat Parade might cause greater crowd, so be aware. (But, they do have valet for their own) (or park in the grocery store/strip center parking lot - that fills early during boat parade
Also, can I assume you mean South County/Coastal Orange County by your consideration of Ritz and Montage?
BTW, I would not categorize either place with others as having categorized "hotel food" unless maybe it's a hit or miss catering in an event room. Studio at Montage is top of the line and has separate areas to accommodate 20 people. Go to the far far left and occupy that entire area, even open to patio if you like to combine. Maybe $200 minimum per person at Studio (if you can get a reservation now)?
Another good hotel that doesn't fit that "hotel food category IMO is The Island Hotel in Newport Beach. (Used to be the Four Seasons) There are beautiful grounds where you can entertain inside a canopy/gazebo with heat lamps around the pool. Very private.
I would suggest Five Crowns in Corona del Mar as intimate, but if you don't like the food quality at Montage or Ritz, I am not sure you will find it perfection. They offer excellent Lawry's beef, limited menu and very distinctive style.
And, is it formal? or intimate? or both?
There is a fairly new place in Corona del Mar that is both pretentious and cozy. Nice outside patio room (totally enclosed) with heat lamps. Otherside, not really room for 20. Hit or miss on some dishes, but if you plan a prix fixe menu for a Christmas pary, maybe they will step up. It is a very intimate location. Hire a designer and decorate the patio all for your own that night.
There are other places with fantastic food to suggest, but I am not sure of your $$$ limit or style request.