Sunday, April 12, 2009

Plums - The best breakfast (and possibly dinner) in the county.

Yes, we read in Orange Coast last weekend that they are finally serving in the evenings. We immediately booked for Saturday. After eight years in the making, we find that this actually started up in November.

While brunch is buzzing and bright, dinner is relaxed and soft. All the tables have ample space between them, giving us a sort of privacy I wasn't expecting. Our server is Julie, who is by far one of the best we've ever encountered. If she saw something, she asked if she could take care of it. When she said something, it would happen.

The menu is not fussy, featuring the Pacific Northwest flavors that keep us coming back. I knew I would have lamb, but the burger or the chop? Hmmm. Either way, I took a chance with the Blackstone Merlot and was not disappointed. It was smooth like buttah. For starters, we ordered both the steamers and pomme frittes. Manila clams married with fire roasted tomatoes, garlic and a fresh herb broth. Potatoes were the skinniest strips, so dainty yet tasty. To sop up the broth, it was recommended that we use one of their signature feta and chive popovers. I was gonna have one anyway, so let the dipping begin. The airy and rich taste that awaited me was so delightful that J had to get his own.

Their featured soup was salmon and vegetable (normally grilled chicken & vegetable). According to J, it was "thick but not too thick". Just the right temperature too. I decided on the lamburger. It was so massive. A stack of red leaf, tomato, onion and bun protected my savory protein. I detected the wild oregano and slathered each forkful with a sauce of feta and cucumber. Julie dared us to compare the cous cous salad with the likes of Houstons or Cafe R&D. She was right. It was on par with the competitors with grape tomatoes, feta, olives and peas. For a little more green, I also requested a side of pan flash spinach. Simple and pure flavors brought out the flavor in my wine.

J had the roasted free range chicken. Lemony and herbed, it had bursts of roasted fennel and garlic resting on smashed potatoes. I found myself making content food noises (don't we all?) as I made my entree disappear.

This whole time, Julie would provide updates on our food, check/refill beverages, and keep us content. It was as if we'd been sitting in her section for years. Not only did she warm my dessert, but she heated my mug for tea "to help keep it hotter longer". Who does that? She was the first.
We were so impressed by dinner that we requested to speak to Kim (the owner). She remembered us from our meeting a few years back to discuss the gloriousness of fresh waffles. During our dessert frenzy of cheesecake brownie (for me) and Grand Marnier ice cream sundae with bittersweet chocolate sauce (not for me) we sang praises of service and the overall dining experience. Kim even asked us to contact her if we had any ideas for additional menu selections.

Our contentment was such a warm feeling that he wrote a 30% gratuity. It was completely worth it.

Plums Cafe
369 17th Street
Suite 7
Costa Mesa

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Food Network listens to their fans!

I saw my first commercial last week, and I didn't want to believe it until I saw it. And that's what I'm doing now on my TiVo.

Robert Irvine is back on Dinner: Impossible!!

Despite the lying, the hoopla and his tarnished rep - the powers that be didn't know what they were missing until it was gone. Sure - Michael Symon is an Iron Chef. He may even be cuter. However, he's no OG like Irvine.

Robert is a MACHINE. The ultimate multi-tasker and task master. For the premiere, he's at the winter X Games. It's a perfect match for his intensity level. His cooking evolves (and his temper rises) as the challenge counts down. It's like the busiest one-man reality show.

The best part about watching the mind of Chef Irvine at work is how he can make do with whatever is at hand. Most of his dishes are made with just a handful of ingredients, but he puts enough thought into the flavor combinations that they end up being showstoppers.

Obviously, I'm a fan. The truth is that Robert carries the show. The last blog from his website can be found here.

And how about them guns that are his arms?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

31 cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins (4/29)

Help Baskin-Robbins honor firefighters with a $100k donation to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) National Junior Firefighter Program.

Participating stores will reduce prices of small ice cream scoops to 31 cents. (that's 2.5 ounce scoops or 3 ounce soft serve cones) Limit 3 scoops per person.

By checking out the following link, you'll also be able to set up an email or text message reminder. Heck, you can even track it on Twitter or post it on your Facebook (like I did).