No matter what you are looking to celebrate, this versatile venue has something for everyone, from a nightclub and yacht parties to fine dining.
By Ashley Ryan
There are few spots in Newport Beach that offer it all, but trust us when we say that The Peninsula Lounge does: It’s part restaurant, part nightclub, with added games, parties and experiences to be had.
Downstairs, the dining room surrounds an expansive bar, with some patio seating offering views of the boats venturing through Newport Harbor. Upstairs, another bar, large patio, a dance floor and space carved out for musicians or DJs come together with blue-hued lighting and roomy booths for relaxing and socializing.
But the fun doesn’t end inside. Out front, daytime guests can enjoy yard games like cornhole, bucket ball, giant Jenga and life-size billiards (played with soccer balls). Head to the harbor side to rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards or Duffy boats for a day out on the water. The Peninsula Lounge also owns a yacht that diners can rent for parties.
First opened in early 2020, the concept and ownership changed in June 2020; several months of renovations started around the same time.
Upstairs, patrons typically order appetizers or desserts, but downstairs, anything on the menu is fair game—and an extensive wine list offers the perfect pairings. Chef Kosetsu Taguchi, who has worked locally at the Pelican Grill at The Resort at Pelican Hill as well as Hotel Joaquin in Laguna Beach, took the helm only a few months ago, but is already putting his touch on the menu.
Taguchi is replacing the previous ahi poke dish with an elevated tuna tartare, combining shallots, avocado, cilantro, truffle oil and panca, a Peruvian chile. He’s also changing up the plant-based superfood salad, adding earthy beets and piquant tomatoes to the mixture that already features baby kale, spring mix, avocado, hemp seeds, flax meal, quinoa, MCT coconut oil (a concentrated form) and a pomegranate vinaigrette. The rich truffle and beet flavors are complemented by the crisp sweetness of Sakura rose wine by Domaine Chevrot.
Other starters include rosemary fries with garlic oil, barbecue chicken pizza topped with fried chicken, oysters accompanied by a mignonette made with hibiscus sabdariffa (often used to brew a tea), plus a charcuterie board with cured meats, cheeses, dried fruits, herb-roasted nuts and garlic crostini.
When it comes to main entrees, the pan-seared pub steak—sometimes subbed for New York steak on special occasions—is drizzled with chimichurri sauce, peppery parsley and tangy red wine vinegar blending to pack the dish full of flavor. Cooked with butter, thyme, garlic and shallots, the slices of meat are layered atop crisp fingerling potatoes and charred broccolini. And for a sipping wine that enhances the taste of the herbs and meat, try the Jean Chartron pinot noir from the Burgundy region of France.
Another popular option is the catch of the day, which features seasonal fish such as pan-roasted branzino. Taguchi places each portion on a bed of farro mixed with tomato and arugula, then slathers romesco sauce over the top. The menu also features a salmon dish. Domaine de L’Ermitage makes a surprisingly sweet sauvignon blanc that expertly complements the seafood dishes as well.
If it’s not steak or fish that you fancy, consider the mushroom risotto, mussels with chorizo, edamame pasta or a wagyu burger on a brioche bun.
Save room for dessert, too. The chef’s seasonal cobbler gives him the opportunity to find the best ingredients. An example is the bourbon peach cobbler, which Taguchi crafts using late-harvest fruit that is a little softer while also salvaging peaches that would otherwise go to waste. This boozy, adult dessert packs a punch with plenty of bourbon, while a crumble on top offers pops of crunch.
Aside from the evening menu, diners can stop by for weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. From crabcake eggs Benedict to a frittata and lemon brioche French toast, the choices continue to impress.
Whether you come to dance the night away, unwind with a couple of glasses of wine and a good meal, sip cocktails while cruising the harbor or party out front with games on the weekend, The Peninsula Lounge continues to push the envelope with its unique offerings and versatility.
The Peninsula Lounge
2406 Newport Blvd.