2015 Dining Archive Stories

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  • Aqua Lounge's Seasonal Spice cocktail By: Jenn Tanaka | Photography Ralph Palumbo
    Pumpkin pie deconstructed. That’s the inspiration behind Aqua Lounge’s latest cocktail experiment. During the month of pumpkin spice madness, the bartenders at The Island Hotel decided to celebrate autumnal flavors with their take on a Thanksgiving favorite: pumpkin pie. The Seasonal Spice cocktail combines fresh pumpkin puree with v
    Fri Oct 30, 2015
  • Lobster Benedict at the Ritz Prime Seafood By: Steve Bramucci
    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
    Fri Oct 30, 2015
  • This Thanksgiving, leave the heavy lifting to local chefs By: Jenn Tanaka
    Comfort FoodChef/owner Ryan Adams and his team at Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink present a three-course prix fixe dinner served family style from 2 to 9 p.m. on November 26. The main dishes include traditional favorites such as a roasted free-range turkey with thyme gravy and sage sausage stuffing to more daring Thanksgiving o
    Fri Oct 30, 2015
  • 10 OC Happy Hours By: Bo McMillan, Joshua Suh and Jenn Tanaka
    Not every meal needs to be an occasion. Sometimes small bites and a stiff cocktail will do the trick, perhaps between work and an evening performance, or after a day of power shopping. Consider any of these happy hours fit for a mini feast: A Restaurant For “social hour” from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, g
    Fri Sep 25, 2015
  • Bar bites to remember By: Jenn Tanaka
    Bar BuddiesWatertable’s slow-roasted California almonds glisten with an olive oil sheen. Each savory bite is flaked with sea salt and dotted with green rosemary shards. The addicting crunch pairs well with a crisp cider or a pilsner on draft. Watertable’s bar jars – sharable small bites like those rosemary-salted a
    Fri Sep 25, 2015
  • Bloody Good Marys By: Brad A. Johnson
    There’s an unwritten rule somewhere that says you can’t drink a Bloody Mary after 5 p.m. It is meant to be a morning drink, a brunch refreshment. Once the sun goes down, only a rube or a bimbo would order a Bloody Mary. What a dumb rule. Consider me a rube and a bimbo because I think there’s never a bad time for a Bloody Mary.
    Fri Sep 25, 2015
  • The Flavor of Hong Kong By: Story and Photography By Brad A. Johnson
    The dining scene in Hong Kong – like the city itself – is the ultimate expression of East meets West. Driven by homegrown chefs and European-trained expats alike, restaurants here combine a potent mix of old and new, of roasted goose and barbecue pork, dry-aged steak and crab fried rice. The epicenter of all this deliciousness is the
    Fri Sep 25, 2015
  • The Riip Beer Company in Huntington Beach By: Bo McMillan
    Imagine a boozy equivalent to delivery pizza: a phone call, a wait and, suddenly, craft beer – award-winning craft beer, in fact – delivered right to your front door. In 2014 brothers-in-law Ryan Rasmussen and Ryan Hopkins started doing exactly this when their Riip Beer Co. began making its door-to-door deliveries in Huntington Beach
    Fri Sep 25, 2015
  • Tournedos Rossini sliders at Holsteins Shakes & Buns By: Jenn Tanaka | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    Holsteins Shakes & Buns elevates the common mini burger into tournedos Rossini sliders with a bit of savoir faire. Would you expect anything less from South Coast Plaza’s most recent epicurean addition? “This is a play on the classic French tournedos Rossini dish – beef tenderloin with foie gras and Perigourdine [tr
    Fri Sep 25, 2015
  • A Taste of Montage By: Kedric Francis | Bear Flag Photography, Baldemar Fierro and Trinity Wheeler
    Ah, a sunny day spent at Montage Laguna Beach. Does it get any better than that? Well, yes, when that day includes wine, cocktails, music from the Kalama Brothers and tastes from some of the best chefs in SoCal. Even better, it’s all for the great cause of raising money for hungry kids. One in five children in the U.S. struggles with hunge
    Mon Aug 31, 2015
  • Substance meets Style at Sushi Roku Fashion Island By: Brad A. Johnson | Photography by Cindy Yamanaka
    “Irasshai!” shouts a hostess as she leads me to my table. The sushi chefs and waiters respond in kind. Most are cheerily enthusiastic, although I can’t help but notice one waiter rushing through the room with an armful of food who mumbles the greeting under his breath in a way that suggests the Japanese-to-English translation i
    Mon Aug 31, 2015
  • Humble Pies By: Jenn Tanaka
    Sweet SpotChef Alessandro Pirozzi works hard to channel the taste of simple, thin-crust pizza synonymous with his Southern Italian hometown. At Pirozzi’s in Corona del Mar, authentic Naples-style pizza cooks in mere seconds thanks to an imported oven built brick by brick just for the chef. While the pizza menu lists classics w
    Thu Aug 27, 2015
  • Fine and Dandy: The Apple Dandy at Pelican Hill Resort By: Jenn Tanaka | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    While the rest of the country revels in fall’s flushes of amber, gold and rust, blue-gray ocean waves lapping tan  sand quietly mark our autumn. The exception can be found at Pelican Hill Resort, nestled up against Newport Coast Drive, where its Apple Dandy cocktail, served at the resort’s Social Lounge, channels a true harvest
    Wed Aug 26, 2015
  • Shaka Spuds at Sessions West Coast Deli By: Steve Bramucci | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    Ah, the poor potato chip. For years it has been relegated to the category of “junk food.” Our guilty-pleasure side dish, sliced paper thin and sprayed with artificial flavors, potato chips are one of those foods we hate ourselves for eating after a single handful. Not anymore. Sessions West Coast Deli’s new Huntington B
    Wed Aug 26, 2015
  • Cedar-planked Skuna Bay Salmon By: Steve Bramucci
    The best chefs are entertainers. The craft of cooking may be a utilitarian one; but the art of being a chef is based on entertaining. We don’t obsess over food because it feeds us. Potatoes can feed us. The reason we Instagram our favorite dishes is because the chef has succeeded at making food fun. Julio Hawkins, executive chef at
    Fri Jul 31, 2015
  • High end Cocktail Mixer By: Jenn Tanaka | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    Serious mixologists may sneer at the thought of a premade cocktail mixer. But when the cold-pressed juice connoisseurs at Nékter Juice Bar created its line of low-calorie mixers longing for a boozy finish, several bar hounds took notice. One skeptical taster was SOL Cocina’s beverage director Colin Pflugradt. Then Pflugradt
    Fri Jul 31, 2015
  • Unexpected Pork Dishes By: Jenn Tanaka | Photography by Ed Olen
    These show stealers fuse heritage-bred swine with surprising ethnic flavors. Surf and turf The bocadillo de ostras is a fried oyster sandwich with thin slices of house-cured pork served with a vinegary kale slaw. It’s a smorgasbord of unlikely flavors. Ham with shellfish – a true ko
    Fri Jul 31, 2015
  • 3 yummy desserts for your inner child By: Jenn Tanaka
    Nostalgia for the whimsical desserts of childhood is the sweet inspiration for a few local chefs. While these dishes might channel your inner child, OC’s fine foodie creations are definitely not kid stuff.Cookie CrazyA take on the childhood classic, the Fluffernutter sundae at A Restaurant in Newport
    Fri Jun 26, 2015
  • Take a sip of the Blackberry Jalapeño Margarita at La Vida Cantina By: Jenn Tanaka
    Sweet HotsWhat could make lounging beside an outdoor fire pit, shielded beneath a shady palapa, more perfect than a sweet margarita that tingles the tongue with a touch of heat? That was exactly Dave Griffith’s thinking one day at the Costa Mesa water hole La Vida Cantina, where he is a partner. “The day was hot an
    Fri Jun 26, 2015
  • Fried Green Tomatoes delight at the Vine in San Clemente By: Steve Bramucci
    Any gardener will tell you that growing your own tomatoes is the gateway to more gardening. Why? Nowhere else is the difference in flavor between homegrown and store-bought produce so starkly evident. A good tomato is a revelation; a bad one tastes like ketchup-flavored cardboard. At Vine in San Clemente, long rows of tomatoes grow right b
    Fri Jun 26, 2015
  • Mule Kick By: Jenn Tanaka | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    Summer cocktails have a bad rap for being too sweet or slushy – or kitschy. (We’re talking about you, beer margaritas.) When the Fahrenheit rises what you really want is something refreshing. John Nye, Driftwood Kitchen’s director of operations, knows how to quench your thirst. Enter the Laguna mule. Nye says there&
    Thu Jun 18, 2015
  • Big Hitters By: Brad A. Johnson
    The ClassicThe cheeseburger at Shock Top Brew Pub satisfies the meat lovers in the stands. The juicy, hand-formed burger, made with top-grade meat, cheddar cheese and a fluffy brioche bun, hits the spot. According to Johnson, “The biggest surprise at Angel Stadium comes early in the night at Shock Top Brew Pub, an indoor/outdo
    Fri May 29, 2015
  • Sweet, with Celery By: Steve Bramucci | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    David Fuñe, head chef at Splashes in Laguna Beach, is serious about his work. His dishes are tightly composed, and he deftly mixes traditional techniques with molecular gastronomy. Each dish that leaves his kitchen is plated with tweezer-level precision. That doesn’t mean that Chef Fuñe is stuffy, however. His
    Thu May 28, 2015
  • Where's the Beef? By Steve Bramucci | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
    Sometimes a dish’s ingredients just click together seamlessly like the insides of a clock; So it is with Chef Azmin Ghahreman’s Kobe Beef Carpaccio at Sapphire Laguna. Nothing is missing; everything fits.     Ghahreman starts with perfectly marbled Snake River beef, which he slices paper-thin. He drapes it on the
    Tue May 05, 2015
  • Caliente Cool By: Jenn Tanaka
    Looking to jolt your taste buds with a subtle wave of heat? All you need for a zesty pre-dinner cocktail is a jalapeño and a touch of color from a couple of festive red bell pepper slices. Those ingredients will amp up your Cinco de Mayo cocktail menu. When Mastro’s wine & spirits director Robbi Jo Oliver concocted the Ski
    Sun May 03, 2015