Sunday, March 7, 2010

OC Restaurant Week 2010 recap (1 of 2)

3 days, 4 very different venues.

Sunday (or as I refer to it, hotel day)

Dining with friends is always fun. Dining with foodies is even better.
I started the day meeting up with five individuals I met through Chowhound, Yelp and other fellow food bloggers. Our destination: 6ix Park Grill inside Hyatt Irvine for California cuisine.

An airy dining room, we were seated at a pub table large enough for eight of us. 6ix Park offered multiple dining options for both lunch and dinner. Between parking validation and included beverages, this was one of the best deals in town.

Half of us chose the same daunting sandwich - an English club. I think it was the allure of fried egg that enticed us. We even had the option of fries, fruit or salad to round out our meal. A very filling option that kept us content at $10. The rest were split between the many other choices. Pulled pork loin with a bourbon BBQ sauce. Kobe beef burger plus a hint of truffle. Shrimp tempura salad (overly) coated in a wasabi aioli. (I'm pretty sure the club won out, though.)


Dinner led me to St. Regis in Monarch Beach and Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern.

Jackie and I met promptly at 7:30. I've dined here maybe three times in the past, but was curious to experience what Restaurant Week would offer. I requested one of their four booths on OpenTable, which was (surprisingly) granted. Between the vertical glass wine racks and 80s/90s pop Muzak, this would be an upscale girl's night out.

For the first course, the listed watercress salad was instead a Caesar. The fresh anchovies and Parmesan crisps were sharp, mellowed out by the lightly sauced hearts. J's tuna tartare was a little unusual with pine nuts, but overall tasted great.

Next I went for the jidori chicken. I don't normally order chicken in a restaurant (too many "dry" experiences), however, I knew this would be different. Besides having wonderful flavor, there were both trumpet mushrooms *and* onion rings included in my dish (neither were listed in the description). The mac was al dente perfect, and broccoli made it quite the healthy meal. J's Tasmanian Ocean Trout resembled salmon in color, but the similarities ended there. It was fulfilling and accompanied by cauliflower puree.

For a $39 3-course meal, the dessert course was exceptional. J opted for the root beer float. With a mock chocolate straw and sassafras ice cream, she alternated between slurping and chewing on their chewy homemade chocolate chip cookies. I eagerly ordered the pumpkin donuts and was very impressed with what I was served. Bits of pecan praline made for a crunchy topping. Butterscotch gave me something saucy for dipping. My donuts were moist and rich with flavor. Quite possibly one of the best desserts I've ever tasted.

Sure, we spent another $30 on drinks and a side of fries. I'm sure it prolonged our meal. We wouldn't have it any other way. South County never tasted better.

next time ~ dining with celebrities

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