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May 28, 2013 01:59 PM

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:

                    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!)‎

                                  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...

                                              I have a hankering to drive down and visit Woody's Wharf 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

                                                  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.