OC birthday lunch
I'm taking my daughter to lunch for her birthday and am interested in suggestions. I considered Marche Moderne but kind of wanted to avoid the "shopping center" syndrome. I want some place in the Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach area, serves wine by the glass, has interesting salads, etc. I'm considering Plums in CM, Nicks in LB, First Cabin in NB. Any input?
No question that the most sophisticated and likely best food will be at Marche. First Cabin is a beautiful spot and very "fancy". Nick's in Laguna is wonderful, but in a totally different way...it's sort of like Houston's with great burgers, sandwiches and such...but Laguna can be a mess to deal with during the summer...parking, crowds, etc. Consider the Beachcomber in Crystal Cove. It's super casual, but is literally right on the sand...great setting with pretty good food, drinks, etc. Another thought is Pizzeria Mozza in Newport. If you go during the week, during a slightly off hour, you can have a great time. Terrific salads, pizza, etc. Love sitting at the pizza bar.
I know, you wanted to avoid the SCP feel by skipping Marche Moderne, but have you considered Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales. It has an entrance outside the mall, so you don't have to go in unless you want to shop, and the food is excellent, with a great deal on the 3 course lunch menu.
Pinot Provence is also nearby, so there is another option if you want to stay in CM and not go into SCP at all. I have been to Provence and a few others in the Patina Group, so I would feel good hitting any of them. One of these days I am going to try Tangata at the Bowers Museum. Letherby's at the Segerstrom center is also supposed to be quite good.
I agree with both of josephnl's suggestions! ;)
Pizzeria Mozza has good salads, appetizers al forno, and a nice selection of wines by the glass. The Biaco-DiNapoli tomato pizzas are outstanding. Desserts are a hit and the menu is riddled with many more treasures than just the budino.
Though Marche is in a mall, it doesn't mean it isn't the best "nice" restaurant in town. The langoustines are one of my favorite dishes anywhere. The wine selection is also interesting and well priced.