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Newport Beach! (longish)

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Hi!

Mr CF and I are back home after spending 4 days in Newport Beach and here is my little and long report!

Tired from the plane and having just checked into the Island Hotel, we took it easy and went to The Daily Grill. It's in the outdoor mall (Fashion Island) within walking distance from the hotel. It wasn't wonderful and it wasn't awful - but I had a couple of nice drinks (how I love a good Bourbon), the Steak Salad (very good beef) and Mr CF had the Iceberg Wedge and the New York Strip - he loved the dressing on the salad but said his steak was just okay - meaning it wasn't the same quality he would have gotten from Peterson's at home... I refrained from making any comments along the lines of 'Well sweetie, we aren't at Peterson's...' ;-)

Thursday we had dinner at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales. We were a bit late - our driver got side tracked and didn't get off the interstate when he should have and we got stuck in traffic - he called and asked them to hold our table. What a gorgeous space! We were seated right away and spent a few minutes at our table looking around. Water was brought right away, and then 2 glasses of champagne were brought. We were a bit confused and a bit worried - we hoped that this wasn't part of a Valentine's Day pre-set menu - but it was a gift from the concierge at the hotel! What a nice thing for her to do.

We then got the menus and the wine list... what a deal on the wine. As I understand it - the wines are available in the 'store' in the restaurant - you can purchase them and take them home (or where ever) or for an additional $25 you can drink them in the restaurant, a corkage fee of sorts. The list wasn't outrageously inflated, which is a nice change. We talked to the sommelier Michael about what would be a good match for most of the tasting menu. We decided on a Burgundy - Ecard 2006 Savigny les Beaune, 1st Cru, Les Serpentieres, an excellent choice for our dinner and gave us hope for the Burgundies in our cellar.

On to dinner!
There was an Amuse Bouche but I forgot to write it down. I think it was Ahi Tuna...

1st - Ahi Tuna Sashimi with green tea soba noodles and a soy lime dressing. A generous portion of tuna with a nice and light flavor.

2nd - Ricotta ravioli with roasted carrot puree and mint brown butter. Toasted walnuts and carrots were sprinkled around the plate. The ravioli was tender, the carrot puree was delicious but the mint brown butter gave it all just the extra little bit it needed - very good.

We added a course here, the pancetta wrapped sweetbreads with celery root puree, braised lettuce and truffle jus - oh so tender and perfect.

4th - Crisp braised pork belly with persimmon, green apple and aged sherry vinegar.

5th - Slow baked wild King Salmon with truffled cauliflower puree and salmon cracklings - oh God, so rich... I couldn't eat it all. The salmon was just flaking apart and the cauliflower puree was loaded with black truffle.

6th - Smoked Liberty Duck Breast with honey glazed chestnut and butternut squash. I'm not a huge fan of duck breast so I didn't eat much of this (not to mention I was still recouperating from the salmon), but Mr CF enjoyed it.

Predessert - cappuccino ice cream and a dense, rich, chocolate, sugar coated doughnut - need I say more? I ate Mr CF's doughnut... I wasn't too full for that little goodie.

7th - Citrus panna cotta with an almond Financier blueberries and a pear soda float.

We enjoyed this dinner, everything was wonderful - including the service - thanks to Benjamin and Michael.

Friday's dinner was at Bayside. A pretty place with a bar and live entertainment on one side. Our waiter ran down the entire menu, answering any questions we may have had before we had them, which was amusing. He was a nice guy and very efficent. They also had a nice wine list, we ordered a David Bruce Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands, 2004 - delicious!

Our appetizers were the melted mozzarella with prosciutto for Mr CF and the Carpaccio of Bresaola with arugula for me. First off - these were enormous. We both said "Holy smokes!', giggled and dug in. They were both wonderful, but Mr CF had to help with mine - I ate the arugula (Weeds! per Mr CF) and half of the bresaola, he took care of the rest.

Mr CF had the chopped hearts of romaine with a homemade parmesan dressing.

My entree was the wild mushroom crusted salmon with mashed potatoes, asparagus and a Reisling sauce. A large piece of salmon cooked perfectly for me (flaking apart but not too pink in the middle) dusted with the mushroom. Very good. I wasn't sure about the Reisling sauce - I thought it might be too sweet - but it was lovely with the fish.

Mr CF had the venison. It was grilled and served with roasted pears, brussell sprouts, and a mystery sauce (Mr CF said they could have kept the sauce). A large dish of potato gnocchi was served on the side - it was deliciously butter sautéed and impossible to resist.

Saturday's lunch was at Francoli Gourmet Emporio, a little spot of Italy in a shopping mall. To be honest, I thought it was a French restaurant - based on the wrought iron outside - so I was surprised, but not in a bad way. We were seated immediately and given menus. Mine was dirty... so I wiped it off and then was pleasantly surprised to find a favorite white wine available by the glass - Alois Lageder Muller-Thurgau 2007. Our waiter, Rafael, was pleasantly surprised that someone finally knew of this wine and ordered it - I think he was as happy to have someone order it as I was to find it by the glass. I ordered the Tonno salad - a large plate of mixed greens, tuna in olive oil, white beans and tomato, dressed lightly. Delicious especially with the Muller-Thurgau. Mr CF had antipasto - more prosciutto and bresaola, and some cheeses. He was happy with it.

Dinner was at Kimera. Valentine's Day. Pre-set menu. Because we didn't have reservations previously set (next year, if we have to be out of town, I will decide myself where we'll go and not wait for my Valentine) we kinda had to go where we could, though I guess I could have gone to McDonalds... so no complaining! Kimera is a trendy sort of place, dark red walls, unusual art (curious curious) and lovely flower arrangements. I felt a bit like it was trying too hard to be too many things. A small wine list - we both had a cocktail and ordered the half bottle of St Supery Cabernet. The menu gave a choice of 2 salads and 2 entrees. We both had the ceasar salad - which was very good and a big salad. I had the lamb chops - delicious and tender, and Mr CF had the filet - which he enjoyed. We didn't care for dessert and so headed back to the hotel.... where we ordered a bottle of Veuve and truffle popcorn. Much better! :-)

If and when we return to Newport Beach, there are a few places I'd like to try - Sage, The Crow Bar, Marche Moderne and a place that isn't open yet - Comme Ca.
So, until next time!
Thanks for reading!

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  1. Thanks for a wonderful post - I've not explored Newport Beach at all and your report has me contemplating a road trip.

    1. Great report. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together with such wonderful descriptions.

      One comment (not on your review, but on one of the restaurants): I have found that Chef Palmer seems to do such a good job on the West Coast. Even opening night in Healdsburg was very good. However, we have also done some of his restaurants, mostly in the East, and have been unimpressed. Maybe it's the translation of West Coast cuisine to the East, but then Chef Richard's Citronelle, just around the block from the Palmer restaurant in DC made the transition and did it very, very well.

      OK, enough blather that is only remotely related to your review - loved it. On our last visit, Bayside didn't do it for us. Must have been an off night, or maybe a party of 12 was a bit much. Not bad, in any way, but not what I had anticipated, and prepared my palate for.

      Thanks,

      Hunt

      PS the powersupply for the big computer is in town, and will be installed on Friday AM. Maui reports soon after!!!!! I promise.