HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Birthday dinner recommendations - Orange County

  • j
  • jgy06 Jun 9, 2010 11:44 AM
  • 25
  • Share

Hello - I am a native New Yorker whose husband's job required us to move to Orange County (Irvine) recently. My 32nd birthday is next week and I'm looking for a really good celebratory meal. I don't have a specific cuisine in mine and it will just be the two of us. To give you an idea of the type of restaurant I'm looking for, my favorite restaurant in the whole world (ok, my limited world) is Blue Hill, Dan Barber's restaurant in the Village. I love everything about it. A few other NY restaurants that I like - Balthazar (yes, it's touristy but I've loved it for more than a decade), Bouley, Convivio, and Tartine. In Orange County, I've already tried Sage, Stonehill Tavern, and Old Vine Cafe. I feel bad about saying this, but I didn't think any were in the least bit memorable. Can you provide some recommendations? Thank you in advance!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. How about Studio restaurant inside the Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach?

    1. I love bouley too, specially their desserts and I personaly haven't been to any restaurant in OC that is amazing in every level. Marche Moderne and Sapphire food is good, but their service is just OK. We usually go to LA for better dining options.

      -----
      Marche Moderne
      3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      1 Reply
      1. re: mrsjoujou

        Re: Marche Moderne. We've gone to MM frequently, and it has been excellent and still trending up. Recent meals have been so good that we don't see a need to drive to LA for rests. that are better by reputation; more often than not, their reputations have been overstated. We've found the food at MM to be excellent and the space, particularly the cabanas on the patio, is very romantic. We've found the service there to be professional and accommodating. My only negative comment is that the wine list still needs some work.

        -----
        Marche Moderne
        3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      2. It's been a while since I went, but Napa Rose inside the Disneyland Resort is supposed to be top notch food, too. For a special occasion like your birthday, may be worth checking it out?

        -----
        Napa Rose Restaurant
        1600 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

        1 Reply
        1. re: kingkong5

          I love NR and enjoyed their Chef's Counter--phenomenal food & service. However, reports are that service in the dining room of NR isn't as stellar.

        2. I am surprised you did not like Stonehill, but it has been a while since I have been. Sage was good but not remarkable in my book. It has been ages since I have been to NY and never to Blue Hill, so I can't vouch for the similarities, but looking it up on Zagat it seems to be small(ish), with local ties and "New American" cuisine. So... I would toss my $0.02 for Tabu in Laguna Beach. It is small, with excellent food, fresh ingredients, and no pretensions. My top pic in OC for $100pp or less.

          There are others here who love Napa Rose, and I don't want to disparage it, but it does seem to be the opposite of vibe you would get at Blue Hill, unless you get a seat at the chef's counter, as OCAnn recommends.

          -----
          Tabu Grill
          2892 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

          6 Replies
          1. re: ocshooter

            =)

            1. re: ocshooter

              A second for Tabu Grill. Not long after it opened, a business colleague offered to pay for my dinner if I was not thrilled with my first visit (I lost the bet:). It's been on my regular rotation ever since. Very low-key and everything ocshooter said. Don't think Napa Rose would be your kind of place.

              -----
              Tabu Grill
              2892 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

              1. re: BubblyOne

                Would it be inappropriate to bring a baby for an early reservation at Tabu Grill? My husband and I will be in town this weekend and this sounds like our sort of restaurant. We have an 8 week old - still young enough to sleep through most meals and pretty much a non-cryer by baby standards. We are staying at the St. Regis but it looks like Stonehill Tavern might be a little bit too formal for us. We lived in NYC for many years before relocating to Minnesota and Blue Hill at Stone Barns was one of our favorites. (For some reason, we never liked the Blue Hill in the Village as much. Our other favorite was also outside of the city -- North Fork Table with a similar emphasis on seasonal, local cuisine.)

                -----
                Stonehill Tavern
                St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629

                Tabu Grill
                2892 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                1. re: kersie

                  I'm a late diner and I have never seen kids, but I would call and ask.

                  1. re: kersie

                    Tabu is a bit tight on space, so you probably will need a table for 4 to accommodate the stroller or car seat.

                    1. re: ocshooter

                      They said they'd have no trouble accommodating us but apparently certain tables there are better for accommodating a car seat. Looking forward to it!

              2. Welcome to OC (moved to Irvine in '93 from NY). You won't find the same kind of dining here as in NY, but aside from a birthday dinner recommendation - too much pressure - Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa has good food and atmosphere.

                -----
                Pizzeria Ortica
                650 Anton Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                1. How about Charlie Palmer @ Bloomingdale? I've only been to brunch (great Bloody Mary bar), so I don't know about dinner service, but they have such great space/atmosphere & attentive service.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OCAnn

                    This was my idea also. The space is nice and the food is 'mostly' good (just don't go for Thanksgiving dinner! :)).

                  2. Thank you for your suggestions!! We go to Pizzeria Ortica all the time - in fact, we were just there this past Friday. I'm glad other people like it too. My husband has been to Charlie Palmer a few times for business and had suggested going there for The Dinner so it'll definitely be in the running. Based on the comments so far, the top contender is Tabu - I know that every restaurant is different, but if you think has the elements that I'm looking for then that's good enough for me. (Just a side note - you're right about Blue Hill's local ties. Ingredients are sourced from their own farm north of the city and from other nearby farms/artisan producers. Their motto is "Know thy farmer." If you are ever in the area, definitely check it out!)

                    1. this is a very strange coincidence but i am a native NYer who moved to Irvine for my husband's job who is about to turn 32, whose favorite restaurant in the world in blue hill in the city. (no farm fresh egg has ever tasted better). I was looking for restaurant recommendations and found this post and couldn't help but write to ask -- have you found any restaurants you love in the OC yet?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: armandia

                        This Morning's Farm Egg, right? It's my favorite appetizer.
                        It's odd - I haven't been back to Chow since June and just happened to log in today. I guess I was meant to welcome you to CA. Now for the bad news - I haven't really found any restaurants that I can honestly say I love. There are great Vietnamese places (Brodard, Top Baguette, Pho Tau Bay), Japanese ramen (Shinsengumi, Mentatsu), Lebanese (Zena's, Open Sesame), and Chinese, but I have not found anything even remotely comparable to Blue Hill. I feel really bad to be so negative, but it seems that no one in the OC is able to combine locally sourced ingredients AND really good cooking. I did try Tabu (mentioned previously in this post), and found the food to be good but not necessarily seasonal or local and the ambiance was kind of odd. I also have not yet found a really good neighborhood restaurant (my current go-to is Zov's, but I'm really looking for something like the now defunct Le Tableau in the East Village). I suppose my favorite restaurant in the county is Stonehill Tavern. Good butter!
                        Our 5 year anniversary is coming up in two weeks and we're going to Stonehill Tavern on the actual day but we're really waiting to go back to NY in December to celebrate at Eleven Madison Park.
                        I have to caveat all this by saying that this is just my opinion. There are lots of transplants in the OC and I'm sure that most have found restaurants that they really like. Maybe my experience has been too limited. I really hope you like it here. Best of luck!

                        -----
                        Open Sesame
                        5215 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803

                        Stonehill Tavern
                        St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629

                        1. re: jgy06

                          For a special celebration, I would recommend The Cellar in Fullerton or The Hobbit in Orange. The Cellar is actually in a wine cellar. They serve French/American food. The Hobbit is unique. It's hard to put down in writing. I would recommend checking out the websites for both restaurants.

                          1. re: TustinTwin

                            The Cellar just hired a new Chef, I really need to go--if anyone does, please report back.

                            1. re: Funwithfood

                              Hopefully, this is good news! While I love the location/ambiance (my backyard!), I thought the food was slipping. Thank you for the heads up on the new chef. =D

                              1. re: OCAnn

                                Yes, the food was stagnant,...hopefully adding a fresh Californian flavor will be just what this treasure needs.

                      2. try Habana in Costa Mesa or Javier's Cyrstal Cove in Newport Coast

                        -----
                        Habana
                        2930 Bristol St Ste A110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ocmom

                          I like Javier's, I really do, but it is not going to be in the same league as these other places.

                          1. re: ocmom

                            I must respectfully disagree. Javier's is a special-occasion place because it's got OK alcoholic drinks and shockingly high prices. The food is not special; it is El Torito Grill but even more expensive.