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Speaking of Newport Beach Restaurants - A Blast from the Past

I knew and liked the bombastic owner of Ambrosia and saw that the move initiated by Bren was doomed:


Same about the owner and the food of the Bouzy Rouge on Newport Blvd. on the Balboa Peninsula:. That's where I learned to love anchovies.

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  1. Is any of the restaurants referenced in this thread still around ?

    Is "Blast from the Past" (that's the name of the restaurant, right?) still around ?


    1. Bouzy Rouge made the best Fries ever

      1. Just had a very pleasant meal at The Crab Cooker. Has not changed a bit. Good chowder and simply prepared fresh fish. We could use something similar in L A!

        2 Replies
        1. re: flowergirl

          Yeah, it's not bad though it can get very pricey, i.e. crab legs with drawn butter at close to 50 bucks before tax and tip, which is their eponymous speciality.

          1. re: flowergirl

            We were there last month for the lunch priced Lobster Tail.
            Delishes as usual. It was my birthday and the waitress comped us with nice treats. We have been eating lobster there since 1965. What is amazing is how good all the accompaniments
            are. The cole slaw, the potatoes, the soup! My husband grew up around Balboa as his dad had a boat there.
            Recently he was busy pointing out many of the places mentioned on this thread. Altho he had told me stuff before, on this trip he showed me some new hangouts. I never got to Bouzy Rouge b/c we were always en route to the Crab Cooker.
            Don't know how my funds could survive a crab cooker here in L.A.

          2. Keeping to my theme of great restaurants now gone, there was a terrific very interesting article in The OC Weekly reminiscing about Sid Soffer and his restaurants in Newport Beach - Sid's Steakhouse and Sid's Blue Beet.

            We knew Sid and his wife, Michiko, (who ran and maybe still runs a great Italian restaurant.

            Her place was just up the road from his and then she and her superbly talented chef, Paolo, moved to Old World Village (if the name isn't right, I apologize) in Huntington Beach.


            52 Replies
            1. re: Gypsy Jan

              so where's this michiko restaurant these days ? is that restaurant still around ?

              do you happen to have a name ?

              1. re: kevin

                Nesai evidently. In Newport Beach (if it's still there).

                Here is a little fun history on her ex husband, Sid from the LA Times in 1997...


                1. re: Servorg

                  Nesai, yes. That's it.

                  I missed it by a couple years back when I was a frequent of the OC.

                  1. re: kevin

                    Sorry, Kevin

                    Michiko's restaurant was named Issay.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Thanks Servorg!

                        I stand corrected and updated.

                        And, I do play nice in the sandbox.

                        1. re: Gypsy Jan

                          He is our intrepid Internet researcher.

                  2. re: Servorg

                    Hey guys,

                    I was searching my defective memory while posting.

                    I did some online research.

                    The original restaurant in Newport Beach was named "issay"

                    They moved together, opening up under the same name, in Old World Village in Huntington Beach.

                    (Here is a link to The OC Weekly review by founding editor, Jim Washburn: http://www.ocweekly.com/2001-07-26/fo...

                    The new restaurant burned down in 2001,

                    I haven't been in contact with Michiko for several years and I do not know if Paolo is still in Huntington Beach or elsewhere.

                    1. re: Gypsy Jan

                      Here are some more great old school restaurants that have gone to culinary heaven:
                      The Hobbit in O.C.
                      Victor Hugo - Laguna Beach
                      The Five Crowns - Corona del Mar. I think the building still exists, but the menu has changed.
                      Scandia, of course.

                      Not in the same league, but definitely missed:
                      Cock n Bull, Bantam Cock, Tail of the Cock, Frascatti's (all of them), Martoni's, even Ollie Hammonds.

                      Desserteries I loved and still miss: Pupi's, Wil Wright's and Blums.

                      1. re: cujo

                        Five Crowns is alive and well and still owned by Lawry's (since 1965). While the menu has been tweaked, and SideDoor opened a couple of years ago to take advantage of the gastropub craze, the main restaurant and its menu remain largely recognizable to those who ate there in decades past.

                        1. re: New Trial

                          Thank you for the update. It's good news.

                          1. re: Searching4Dunny

                            You are absolutely right! Just googled them. Has a 27/30 Zagat score. Thanks for the correction.

                            1. re: Searching4Dunny

                              Just for the nostalgic historic record, in the 60's, the Hobbit location was originally a Russian restaurant, the Ukramada".

                              It was the first place I tasted Chicken Kiev.

                              1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                I was introduced to Chicken Kiev at the Russian Tea Room in NYC. Loved every minute of it.

                                1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                  ME TOO! After that I made it at home. Very complex prep!

                              2. re: cujo

                                The Hobbit has an awfully fresh looking website for being out of business


                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  I was corrected and graciously admitted my error within 24 hours of my post. Did you read the entire thread before sending your comment? Of course not.

                                  1. re: cujo

                                    Whoops, you're right! I was on a cujo fact correction roll with the lobster and Lotus of Siam posts, and got ahead of myself. Sorry for that.

                                    Mr Taster

                                2. re: cujo

                                  We went to Victor Hugo with our kids many times. It was missed until just this year when I discovered Cafe Zoolu in Laguna and that makes up for it, altho they are very different.
                                  My daughter is in S.D., and we often meet in the middle at Laguna. We need a hang out place other than the beach!
                                  Cafe Zoolu's chef is Michael Leech, and he and his wife run a great place. Their site shows Michael next to a VW bus like I used to have! The food is generous, varied and delicious. Swordfish to die for (especially in a world lacking same!) www.cafezoolu.com/‎

                                  About Marconi's: was in there many times; once a fight broke out and Tab Hunter at the table next to me, jumped up to protect me from harm!
                                  Another time I hosted a small group of very special people,
                                  but was given a menu without prices, supposedly a 'special courtesy' for the gals! Being a feminist named Rosewoman after the women in my family, and feminism being popular at the time, I complained. They could not comprehend that a woman was hosting. I was no longer their current darling.
                                  I never went back. They closed.

                                  I NEVER like Frascotti's and, after living and eating Italian in NYC, could not understand it being so mediocre for Sunset Blvd in the '70's.

                                  1. re: VenusCafe

                                    I remember Victor Hugo's so vividly, now long gone and reinvented as Las Brisas.

                                    Ahh, sigh.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Hi kevin

                                        The common recommendation is go for the view and drinks, not for the the food.


                                    1. re: VenusCafe

                                      Back in the day, many expensive restaurants had menus without prices for "the ladies." They also had "powder rooms" instead of bathrooms. What a crock! They went kicking and screaming into the new era. Those restaurants that refused, went out of business.
                                      Tab Hunter is a decent guy. Read his autobiography. You will like him even more. But he cannot sing.
                                      Frascotti's did a huge lunch trade, especially for entertainment business types. It was second choice to the original Brown Derby for business lunches.

                                      1. re: cujo

                                        Yes, but in the day it was considered automatic "politesse", treating a lady like a lady.

                                          1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                            Screw that, let them open their own doors and pull out their own chairs and pick up their own checks, right?

                                              1. re: SoCalMuncher

                                                So you say, but is this new day better or more enjoyable?

                                                A certain kind of gentleman-like behavior has sadly vanished from our environment.

                                            1. re: cujo

                                              I had a recording of Tab singing......pretty bad.

                                        1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                          Gypsy Jan,

                                          I used to live in the apartments next to old World and I would frequently eat at Paolo's. Great squash ravioli, and Paolo was a super cool person to have a glass of wine with!

                                          Sadly, the restaurant has been gone for some time. I do not know if he opened up another restaurant.


                                            1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                              Other NPB restaurants that are long gone, but that I can recall to this day, include The Stuft Shirt and the Reuben E. Lee... http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/...

                                              I have a hankering to drive down and visit Woody's Wharf http://www.woodyswharf.com/ for dinner.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                As far as I know, you still might find Woody sitting at the bar. :)

                                                1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                  I can't depart this thread without one shot of the Reuben E Lee in all her glory http://www.flickr.com/photos/traderch...

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    The original sunk in San Diego Bay some years ago, according to news reports. There are plans to build a new one.The old one is beyond rebuilding.
                                                    In the mean time, the original must be a great wreck dive for scuba divers.

                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                    That should properly be "Beet" and not Beat. Were you a "beet-nik" in those days?


                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      I've never been here.

                                                      Any good ?

                                                      If I'm in the vicinity, I'll usally end up at Charlie's chili and/or Mutt lynch's.

                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                        Last there in 1969 or thereabouts, so my recommendation would be problematic, at best.

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          It was quite the place in the early 70's...peeling paint on the ceiling, but great vibe and very good simple bar food..burgers, steak sandwiches, fish, etc.

                                                  2. re: Servorg

                                                    Hey /servorg,

                                                    Do you remember the yacht named the Nam Sang moored outside the Stuft Shirt?

                                                    1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                      That's one I don't know. What was the story?

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        Hubby sailed the South Pacific,

                                                        Sold in the B0's it to a someone who tried to use it as a freighter. in The Sacramento $9ver;

                                                        1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                          Sailboat for 9gs ????

                                                          That's a steal.

                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                            HH8bb7 is a a devoted sailor and does not do stinkd pots..

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                Sorry, stink pots, meaning motor boats.

                                                                I am sitting in a window blasting for my monitor.

                                                        2. re: Servorg

                                                          One you don't know ????

                                                          Is that even possible.

                                                          Don't worry. I'm just giving you a hard time as usual.

                                        2. John Wayne and Dillman's Restaurant in Balboa
                                          John Wayne loved Mexico and Baja especially.

                                          I remember the night that he was at Dillman's exotic meats dinner (lion, tiger, rhinoceros, etc. and by the way - YUCK) and a Newport Beach police escort was waiting for him outside.

                                          One officer was there to take him home and the other to drive his car.

                                          1. My parents took me to Woody's Wharf hundreds of times in the 70's. We went for Sunday breakfast(had they invented "Brunch" yet?) usually, and as a youngin' I got to play around the docks while we waited for a table and my folks drank Bloody Marys.

                                            I learned to love Abalone steak(I think it was really Calamari), but I really remember a dish that I think was called "Shrimp Vercado". It was actually a slice of toasted white bread covered with avocado slices which were then covered with a layer of boiled shrimp. The big topper to this dish was that it was then covered(smothered) with.......1000 Island dressing! The combination seems insane to me today, but I still have a deep love for good 1000 Island.

                                            18 Replies
                                            1. re: DWB

                                              Would you go again today or would you be afraid that the present day experience would ruin your memories of going as a kid?

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I like to return to old favorite restaurants from my distant past.
                                                Sometimes they are still as good. Other times, not. Either way, the positive memories remain in tact, regardless of the most recent experience---good or bad.
                                                I recently returned to Dan Tana's in West Hollywood after a 40 year absence. The Giovanni's parfait had changed a little. But it was still swoon worthy. Will I return? Probably not because my waiter told me how to make it at home. The secret is Poire William. I will always cherish the memory of the first time I scarfed up this dessert at Tana's.

                                                1. re: cujo

                                                  yeah, but you can't get the dabney coleman anywhere esle.

                                                  What's in the giovanni's parfait ?

                                                  I alwasys like tana's tiramisu and cheesecake.

                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                    Giovanni's parfait is made with chestnut spread, vanilla ice cream & poire william. The chestnut is thickly wrapped around the inside of the goblet, add poire william and premium vanilla ice cream. Whipped cream is optional.
                                                    I also love their warm zabaglione. served in a goblet. It's the real deal zabaglione that no one serves anymore.
                                                    It's difficult to make and they do it perfectly.
                                                    I made a meal out of the desserts. Didn't order an appetizer or entree. The waiter said no one had ever done that in the history of that restaurant. A dubious distinction of sorts.
                                                    My friend ordered scampi and melon w/ ham. Both were excellent. Neither if us is much of a meat eater.

                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                  I have grown to be too poor/cheap to even consider going to restos such as WW. I can no longer enjoy dining at most higher end establishments even if I can afford them, or even if someone else is paying. It's pretty sad, but thats my hell.

                                                  1. re: DWB

                                                    . I agree that high end resto prices are obscene. It disgusts many who have deep pockets. I would appreciate knowing the names & locations of restos that you frequent and like.

                                                    1. re: cujo

                                                      I live in the IE and eat at dine-in restaurants very infrequently. Unlike most Chowhounders I will not travel too far for most food, and when I do it is mostly for special ingredients that We cook at home.

                                                      I do visit Hollywood Thai Town occasionally and use this board for reccomendations for both locations and dishes to order. I am a Thai food newbie, so everything I order is great to Me

                                                      1. re: DWB

                                                        You probably know about RCA in Thai town. It's excellent with very fair prices. I would steer clear of Jitlada at this point. Their food is excellent. But their prices have become ridiculous.

                                                          1. re: cujo

                                                            Thanks cujo. The "mall" with RCA was so crazy for parking that we decided to go elsewhere. Street parking was also unavailable, and I don't even understand how to use the new credit card parking meters.

                                                            That said, I still want to try RCA, Palms, CPG and others there.

                                                            1. re: DWB

                                                              I know a place where there is plenty of free parking. It is slightly east of Thai Town----Sunset & Vermont in the Barnsdall Shopping Center. Yai is the name of the restaurant. It is inexpensive and very good.
                                                              In that same shopping center is a Jon's supermarket that carries a huge range of ethnic foods. It's worth checking out.

                                                              1. re: cujo

                                                                Thanks a bunch. A good market is more appealing to me than a good restaurant, by far.

                                                                1. re: DWB

                                                                  There is also Super King Market in Glassell Park @ 2716 San Fernando Rd. in Los Angeles. It is the grand slam of ethnic foods supermarkets. The parking lot is always packed and vehicles line up at the entrance, causing traffic hazards.
                                                                  In addition, you will find a vast number of old ladies (of every ethnicity) fighting one another for the best fresh fruit displayed in front of the store entrance inside the parking lot. It is a three ring circus or a mine field, depending on your sense of humor.
                                                                  Plan to park on a nearby street so that you avoid the parking wars. Also, give yourself a couple of hours inside the store. There is a lot to see.
                                                                  Please let me know what happened, after you visit one or both markets. Enjoy.

                                                                  1. re: cujo

                                                                    SK is the Atomic Bomb! I live about 10 min. from the new Claremont SK, and it is almost exclusively where I now shop. I like to call it "Combat Shopping"!

                                                                    Check out my post from Nov. 2011: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816234

                                                                    1. re: DWB

                                                                      Excellent review You nailed it! Jon's Market, a few doors down from Yai, is much smaller than SK, not crowded, has plentiful parking and is convenient only if you decide to try Yai.....and you really should.

                                                      2. re: DWB

                                                        If your financial circumstances change it might be fun to go. Even if they don't change it might be fun to go and get a drink and an appetizer at the bar and just see what memories it triggers. I recall going to the Tail O' the Cock on Ventura Blvd. just before it closed http://articles.latimes.com/1987-01-0... (it was a "serendipitous" happenstance, because I had no idea they were about to close for good). This was a restaurant that I went to back in High School for Prom night types of festivities, or with my family for a special meal. My wife and I had a great time and I'm glad I went one last time.

                                                  2. Does anyone recall the old Ruben E. Lee?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Thor123

                                                        Yeah, our resident scholar of now defunct restaurants, Servorg, mentioned it up thread a few times or in another thread.

                                                      2. Does anyone here remember the Stuft Shirt, the elegant waterfront restaurant in Newport Beach? They had white tablecloths and menus shaped like a starched white dress shirt on a slightly paunchy (stuffed) man. And they had the best lobster thermador in history. Sadly, the beautiful building remains (now a yacht broker), but restaurants like this are for the most part, long gone.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Two restaurants from the 70's which still exist and are relatively unchanged are Rothschild's and the Quiet Woman. Rothschild's is still owned by the same family, is still quite good…but oh, the Viennese layer cakes they used to serve are long gone. They were apparently made especially for the restaurant by a local woman. The Quiet Woman has changed hands once or twice, but still serves pretty much the same menu and is still good. They no longer have the bluegrass music nightly…it was their signature…but they still have music.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                            Loved the Quiet Woman back in 67....veal oscar was one of the stars in those days and was my favorite. The bartender then, Pete, is the one who started Charlie's Chili. We would go across the street to Chef's Inn for music by Mark Davidson.

                                                            1. re: onlyonejudy

                                                              charlie's chili near the newport beach pier ?????

                                                              thanks for th history.

                                                            2. re: josephnl

                                                              viennese layer cakes ??????? is that what you just said ?????

                                                              where or where can i get them these days ??????

                                                              thanks man.

                                                              most people in that area i think are hitting up joints like Bandera these days.

                                                              If i'm not mistaken both those joints are in corona del mar, right ????

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                Yep...they were made for Rothschild's by a local woman who was an amazing baker...perhaps Viennese. This was at least 25 years ago!

                                                                1. re: josephnl


                                                                  cafe mozart of europe was the closet i got to the goods about a decade ago.

                                                                  any contact info on the local woman ?????

                                                                  if it's that good, i'll give her a try.

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    She's long gone. I'm sure we're she still around Rothschild's would still be serving her cakes.

                                                              2. re: josephnl

                                                                Amelia's on Balboa Island opened in the 60's, and it's still open. And Shanghai Pine Gardens across the street opened in the 70's. I think they still have the same carpet.