Five decades ago, the famous prime rib restaurant opened in a space once occupied by an illegal gambling hall. Bringing the Lawry’s name from Chicago to Corona del Mar’s flower streets, Five Crowns cemented its place in local history in April 1965.
It’s one of the oldest restaurants in town (The Quiet Woman is another that’s celebrating its golden milestone this year), successfully staying the course by building on beloved classic tastes and executing them perfectly.
Prime rib is—and always will be—a staple; for regular patrons, it’s a symbol of life’s biggest moments, be it an anniversary dinner or graduation celebration. But, as Five Crowns reached the half-century mark this spring, it took a leap of faith with a food and beverage program that almost triples the old selection.
It’s an exciting time for the restaurant’s culinary team, which has added new flavors and preparations to the menu. Family-style options and seafood are newer highlights, but the real spotlight shines on dishes that pay homage to Five Crowns’ past. Classics like the beef steak Neptune—tender filet mignon topped with soft, shredded crab meat, served alongside expertly grilled asparagus and a bed of mashed potatoes—bring to mind flavors of days past. The potato horseradish crusted salmon is another updated plate, pairing a juicy fish filet that has just the right amount of kick with a crispy potato pancake. A mustard sauce adds a creamy depth, while sauteed haricot verts provide a welcome bit of crunch and help cut the richness of the dish.
There are also plenty of offerings to sample on the side. The haricot verts are available as an accompaniment, but if you’re choosing something to share, the creamed spinach is a popular pick. A large platter of fruits del mar is perfect for larger groups; choose five seafood items from a selection that includes Scottish salmon tartare with dill creme fraiche, oysters, grilled shrimp, smoked trout dip and crostini, and crab and avocado mash with lime dressing and pita chips.
If you’re not quite ready to go home, SideDoor (adjacent to Five Crowns) offers a casual, English-style gastropub atmosphere for an after-dinner drink. Some of the handcrafted specialty cocktails are available at both venues, including the refreshing Garden of Eden gimlet, served up with Prairie cucumber vodka, lavender honey syrup, lime and absinthe.
Those visiting before dinner, however, should stimulate their appetites with the new Poppy Love, which is inspired by the location at the intersection of Poppy Avenue and Coast Highway. The peppy blend brings together Botanist gin with poppy liqueur, amaro, and fig and cinnamon bitters for a tantalizing aperitif.
You may also hear whispers of a secret bar open on select evenings; figuring out how to make a reservation is half the fun. Five Crowns channels its gambling hall past in this rumored lounge with absinthe drips and one of the most authentic speakeasy vibes you can find in Orange County—but you didn’t hear it from us.
—Written by Allison Hata, photography by Jody Tiongco