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Lobster Benedict at the Ritz Prime Seafood

A Classic dish updated

This column launched 30 months ago with one of the most iconic dishes in Orange County: the Ritz Egg. At that time, we knew that The Ritz was closing its Newport Beach location. The future looked uncertain for the Orange County culinary institution.

This month, the Ritz is back … sort of. The property is now called The Ritz Prime Seafood, and chef Phil Kastel has revitalized the menu. The fine-dining atmosphere remains, though the new vibe is a little less supper club.

The famous caviar-covered egg remains on the menu, but it’s almost obscured by another egg-heavy star: the lobster Benedict. This time, eggs don’t get the lead role. The marquee player is the crustacean. Unlike most incarnations of the dish, the Ritz’s lobster Benedict is piled with a whole lobster tail  and a perfectly shelled claw. The sauce is delicate and silky, and the toast adds a nice textural element. There’s even caviar on top, just like on the Ritz Egg, but the poached lobster demands all the attention. As it should.

This Ritz is classic, timeless and familiar, yet filtered through a unique culinary lens. The old restaurant might be gone, but dishes like the lobster Benedict prove that diners have a great future to look forward to.

The Ritz Prime Seafood, 2801 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach 949.720.1800 :: ritzrestaurant.com

Chef Kastel’s Sauce
• 2 tablespoons minced shallots
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 3 each egg yolks
• 8 to 12 oz. clarified butter
• 1 tablespoon julienned Thai basil
Add shallots to sauté pan with wine and reduce until the wine is almost evaporated, cool and set aside for the next step.
Place egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and whisk until smooth. Combine with cooled shallot-and-wine mixture.
Gently and slowly add the clarified butter while whisking the egg yolks. The butter should not be hot or it will curdle the yolks.
Add additional butter until satisfied with the consistency of the sauce, then fold in Thai
basil and allow it to flavor the Béarnaise.
If Béarnaise is too thick, thin it with some warm water.

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