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Looking for 2 restos in irvine area

Hi all,
used to live in Boston for 12 years. Have since then moved to Asia. But will be visiting Irvine Orange County for 2 weeks next week.

I am looking for recommendations for 2 types of restaurants. When in Boston, 2 of our favorite places were an oyster bar called Neptune Oyster and a small, very creative (mostly French, but with lots of other influence as well) place called Craigie Street Birstrot/Craigie on Main.

Neptune Oyster has all sorts of very fresh oysters, and different light fares. I am not looking to eat fish at all (dislike cooked fish). Oysters is what i'm looking for, and delicious morsels. here's their menu if you are interested: http://www.neptuneoyster.com/menu.html

Craigie's menu changes a lot depending on what the chef gets that day. I'm not sure how i'd categorize the food. I do think it's more French than anything else. But I'm definitely not looking for classical French food. Anything creative, fresh, delicious would do. Here's the menu: http://www.craigieonmain.com/?page_id...

Thanks so much for the help!

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  1. Your best bet for French food near Irvine is clearly Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza. It is a rather upscale bistro with excellent food. Unless you want to chance getting a seat at their rather small bar, do reserve in advance.

    Finding a place with a good selection of fresh oysters is tougher. Among those to consider would be McCormick & Schmick (Irvine), Gulfstream (Newport Beach), Wildfish (Newport Beach) and Scott's (Costa Mesa).

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

    Gulfstream
    850 Avocado Ave, Newport Beach, CA 92660

    2 Replies
    1. re: josephnl

      FYI, Marche often has good oysters on the menu too. Enjoy your visit. :)

      1. re: inaplasticcup

        You're right MM often has excellent oysters, but usually only one variety. If you can see your way clear to go to MM in the evening (get a sitter), you'll have a betler experience, although lunch will be fine.

        I'm not that impressed with Santa Monica seafood's fish...don't know about their oysters.

    2. If you are willing to drive to Laguna from Irvine, I highly recommend Broadway by Amar Santana in the village of Laguna Beach. It opened 3 weeks ago, and has fresh ingredients and an interesting menu. Amar was trained under Charlie Palmer. They have many dishes to share, such as the roasted beet salad, slow braised lamb belly, delicious Hummus, Kobe beef sliders, and more. Their entrees offer salmon, chicken, duck, pork chops and NY strip loin. Every detail has been thought through, and every dish has unique flavors. This restaurant will be a winner (it already is!).

      2 Replies
      1. re: jolietnelson

        We had dinner at Broadway last night and overall it was a pretty awful experience...not that the food was that bad. First, we had to spend 30 minutes finding a parking spot about a half a mile away. When we opened the restaurant door we were practically blown away by the noise emanating from the sound system and the crowd. The drinks, bread and food were all decent, but certainly nothing exceptional. The service was ok, but it was difficult to get a servers attention to get more butter because of the noise and wildly hectic atmosphere, and our server got one dish wrong...obviously because she couldn't hear the order over the din. Needless to say, conversation without shouting was not possible. So...if you enjoy a very high energy (noisy) restaurant, filled with a lot of "young, hip and cool" people, where easy relaxing conversation is not a priority, where the food and drinks are pretty good, and you have lots of bucks to spend (expect to spend ~$100+ pp with drinks, food, tax and tip), this may be just your ticket!

        1. re: josephnl

          Is this Neptune Oyster place still in business ???

          Did I miss something here ?

      2. Thanks all. Moderne Marche for lunch sounds good (we have a 6.5 and 3 yo, so will try to avoid dinner as the place looks quite formal).

        My sis in law suggests Santa Monica Seafood for oysters. Any opinion on this?

        1 Reply
        1. re: pigletthepug

          There is no place in SoCal quite like Neptune Oyster. For good oysters you may have to go to a different type of high end restaurant that doesn't necessarily specialize in seafood. Some steakhouses and sushi restaurants in the area have good oysters. There is a Mastro's in Costa Mesa and one in Laguna on the PCH that has a good oyster selection. If you are in the Santa Monica area try BP Oysterette. It's probably as close as you'll get to a place like Neptune Seafood. They have lobster rolls and similar fare.

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          Mastros Restaurant
          2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

          BP Oysterette
          1355 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

        2. Bluewater Grill and Market Broiler are small chains that do a credible job and display a variety of Oysters. Not being an oyster expert,
          I can't comment on quality.

          1. Take a look at this thread on the very new Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa and see if it fits the bill for what you are seeking: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869120