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Friday, January 15, 2016

Fresh Toast

Orange County .... it's coming! OCWeekly's newest event, 
Fresh Toast
is happening 
Saturday, February 27th 
and will be featuring your favorite meal - brunch! Over 40 of OC's best restaurants will be dishing out some the best brunch bites in the OC! 

Taking place at Fresh Toast will also be the Bloody Battle! 
You don't want to miss this OC! 
Get your tickets soon before prices go up again AND before it sells out! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stag Bar

The Stag is back, and better than ever! 

I had a fabulous evening checking out the new Stag Bar & Kitchen in Newport Beach a few nights ago! 
From the minute you walk in, you'll be struck by what an amazing job of updating this beloved historic bar they did! Those of us who grew up in Orange County and lovingly referred to "The Stag" as the local dive bar to pop into after hanging at the beach all day are in for a pleasant surprise. Now offering thoughtfully crafted cocktails and unique upscale bar food w a fun updated vibe. The best part is it's still feels like The Stag just a little more grown up - kinda like us OC kids. ;) 

With the update, came a new kitchen with the creative Chef Jeff Moore at the helm. I was lucky enough to get to try a few of their new offerings including the soon to be infamous meatballs -- the stag ball: a combination of venison and pork and the house grind: sirloin, short rib, mortadella, & prosciutto were both standouts. Both moist and exploding with flavor, and please please PLEASE don't be afraid of the venison- no gaminess here folks! More like a little a hint of richness combined with the pork! You can have these served with your choice of cheese (YES, you get to pick your cheese!) and sauce - marinara for the traditionalists or white sauce for the non-conformists - either way its' a win-win with these balls folks!
Pizza Blanco
Another standout (and no doubt soon to be favorite with the vegetarians!) was the Pizza Blanco! Holy smokes.. hand-tossed crust with a garlicky creamy white sauce, stretchy mozzarella (just the way I like it!), big chunks of artichoke hearts and topped with some nutty parmesan. This is a definite winner in my book and don't fret carnivores as you can even customize it by adding any number of meats. The pizzas are available to order in two sizes $6-$8 for the personal size or $14-$16 for a larger version to share - and yes, of course there's a gluten free option!
The Cucumber Cooler and the Mai Tai
The cocktail menu is gonna send you into a tailspin cuz if you're like me, you'll want one of each please! After drooling over them all, I finally settled on the cucumber cooler with Nolets Gin, St Elder, cucumber, basil, lemon, and agave.  If you're a fellow gin drinker you'll go nuts for this refreshing drink. I know, I know... cucumber drinks are everywhere these days but the basil and the hint of agave combined with the high end smooth Gin really sets this apart gin lovers! I also tried the Mai Tai which was also on point and another great option if you want a refreshing drink that isn't overwhelmingly sweet. It's,made with a combination of premium Kauai coconut rum (sinful!), Pilar dark rum, house made orgeat, lime, orange and pineapple. If neither of these two strike your fancy, no worries as the cocktail menu has something for everyone including an extensive list of both whiskey and draft beers. Take a look for yourself:
The Stag Bar & Kitchen is definitely worth checking out! 
They have specials almost every day so what better way to give 'em a try?!
Meatball Mondays - get your own flavor balls for only $2!
Tiki Tuesday$6 Tiki Cocktails & $6 Hawaiian Pizza
Whiskey Wednesday - Featured Weekly Whiskey Special & Whiskey Flights (Ask about this one!)
Thursday - Locals Night w $5 Personal Pizza (Any 1 Topping) *beginning in February
They also have 11 hour HH from 8am - 7pm Monday - Friday w $1 off Wells & Wine, $3.50 domestics & $5 HH Food 2pm-7pm      

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Restaurant Weeks Galore!!!

With every new year always come the start of the various restaurant weeks, and this year is no exception! For those of you who like to partake in the great deals that come with Restaurant Week here's a list of those coming up in the near future in Southern California.

Newport Beach Restaurant Week 
Monday, January 18 -  Sunday, January 31st
Full list of restaurants and menus:
Stand out menus (IHMO) include the following:

Provenance - Lunch Menu & Dinner Menu
Chef Cathy always knows how to make it hard to resist her menus - she offers more options than most for both menus and the price for either is a great deal when you add up all that you get. Also, if you've never been to this fantastic restaurant this is your chance to try out a consistently great and in my opinion, often overlooked restaurant.

Oak Grill - Lunch Menu
If you haven't ventured to the lovely Oak Grill yet then this is the perfect time - the beautiful ambiance of the olive tree filled patio is worth the price of admission but when you add in the fantastic food that Chef Marc Johnson creates you're sure to become a devotee. The $25 lunch menu is a steal for this price, even with the $3 dessert supplemental.

Campus Jax - Dinner Menu
So for those of us who were fans of the original Jack Shrimp that used to be on PCH, this re-creation over near UCI was a sigh of relief! For $20 dinner this is really a steal and where else are you able to get gumbo AND jambalaya as two of your three courses?! ;)

The Bungalow - Lunch Menu
This CDM standby is always good for a power lunch but during restaurant week it's an especially great deal not to mention they are very generous with the options for your three courses for a ridiculous $15. Worth a visit if you're in the area and want a menu with lots of yummy choices that is more than fairly priced.

The Ritz Seafood - Dinner Menu
As one of the newest additions to the Newport dining scene, the newly revived Ritz is an enticing option for Restaurant Week affording a chance to check it out without a big $ commitment. Yes, it is one of the pricier options at $50 for a three course dinner. However, with options like Wagyu Short Ribs and Jidori Chicken it also includes some of the most high end options which would typically cost significantly more. Definitely worth a visit!

Sushi RokuLunch Menu
SR hit the ground running in Newport when it opened a few months ago and if you  haven't tried it there is no better time! The $20 menu is a great introduction to this hipster sushi joint with creative unique food.

HopDaddy - Lunch Menu
Another new addition to the Newport scene - this Austin import is famous for their thick creamy shakes and juicy hamburgers. What better way to try them than with the $10 two course deal.?! Now you just have to choose between fries or a shake.. hmm, decisions, decisions!

Los Angeles Restaurant Week
Monday, January 18 -  Sunday, January 31st
Full list of restaurants and menus:
More than 300+ restaurants participate in this annual event offering tons of options for specially prices lunch and dinner menus. Hard as it to pick out just a few stand outs, there are a few that IMHO look especially hard to resist:

Barcito - Dinner Menu
this new downtown hot spot for tapas and crudo lovers is a definite draw as it affords a reasonable way to check it out for only $29 for three courses with lots of options to make everyone happy!

Pok Pok LA - Lunch Menu or Dinner Menu
his Portland Thai institution has had a bit of a wee hard time getting it's bearings in LA but the food hasn't disappointed. It's definitely worth a visit to check it out especially at the bargain price of $15 for lunch or $29 for dinner.

Viviane - Lunch Menu
$25 for three courses of fabulous French food cooked by an award winning Chef by the pool is a definite steal, and the lovely modern ambiance is just the icing on the cake for this deal.

Melisse - Dinner Menu
A meal at the highly rated Melisse will typically run you significantly more than the $95 restaurant week deal so it's almost like a sale at one of the best restaurants in LA! Worth doing if you've always wanted to go but were put off by the normal prices here.

Sotto - Dinner Menu
An LA institution that is always consistent and the RW menu offers some of their best dishes including the infamous pork belly that Sotto is known for - not to be missed.

There are also several fabulous LA restaurants that haven't posted their menus yet so I'd keep checking the site to see what pops up!

San Diego Restaurant Week
Sunday, January 17 - Sunday, January 24th
Unlike LA & Newport Beach, San Diego only offers restaurant week for 7 days! Over 180 restaurants participate in this week long event. Although I do visit SD quite often there are only a few menus that stood out to me at places I'm familiar with:

Bracero Cocina: Lunch & Dinner Menus
This new hotspot in Little Italy is the talk of SD at the moment and what better way to sample the fabulous food here than with a 2 course lunch menu or 3 course dinner menu.

Jayne's Gastropub - Dinner Menu
Some of the best gastropub in SD and maybe So Cal - for $40 they have a good sampling of some of their favorites.

The Marine Room - Dinner Menu
Stunning views at this SD favorite and for $50 for three courses it's a great way to take it all in without the hefty price-tag that usually comes with dinner here.

Orange County Restaurant Week
March 6 - March 12th
Menus haven't been released for this county-wide event but the launch party is scheduled for March 5th so mark your calendars and get ready to make those reservations once the menus are up! I'll keep you posted!

Launch Party Tickets