Southern Hospitality

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The generous helpings at Bosscat Kitchen & Libations are packed with flavors that tempt diners to finish every last bite.

By Kirsti Correa | Photos by Jody Tiongco

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In Newport Beach, there’s a dedicated eatery for nearly every type of cuisine. Waterfront restaurants are primed to offer all types of seafood, and ethnic specialties—including Italian, Mexican, Asian, French, Mediterranean, Thai and even Irish—are well represented. Still, like everything, there’s always room for improvement. In our case, we come up short in the arena of Southern-inspired fare.

Leslie Nguyen and John Reed, co-owners of the recently opened Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, stepped in to fill this void with a space dedicated to comfort foods with a Southern flair. “We put a spin on all the basics,” John explains. “We wanted to have a menu that’s very decadent.”

The employees at the restaurant, which is located just around the corner from John Wayne Airport, are as knowledgeable as they are friendly—and more than willing to guide patrons through the menu. One of the most highly touted appetizers is the mouthwatering Duroc pork belly poutine—potatoes are transformed into fried wedges using a secret recipe by chef Peter Petro and are mixed with pork belly, cheese curds and gravy all underneath a duck fat fried egg. Another option is the plate of collard green poppers with Carolina mustard sauce—the greens are slowly braised, then battered with cornbread for one wholesome snack.

Appetizers could easily satisfy anyone’s appetite, but it’s the entrees on the menu that give a new meaning to the word “stuffed.” Take the Bosscat burger: The menu says it comes with all the fixings, which is something of an understatement. The beastly burger stands more than six inches high, and between the two homemade buns smothered in a black garlic sauce are layers of lettuce, tomatoes, slices of Parmesan, cheddar and blue cheese, and bacon bits.

The faint of heart may instead opt for the Cajun chicken that’s prepared with a brick weight and served on top of Carolina gold dirty rice that packs a punch with an array of spices. Other Southern staples on the menu include a savory black-eyed pea panini, shrimp and grits, and beef short rib.

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To wash it all down, there are more than 100 types of bourbon, scotch and whiskey stored in a room complete with lockers to house personal stashes. Novice whiskey drinkers interested in trying the liquor can order a mixed drink like the signature Bosscat cocktail, a blend of Basil Hayden bourbon mixed with lemon, rosemary, basil and a dash of bitters.

If you didn’t save room for dessert by the end of the meal, then at least order the red velvet churros to go. Though not at all synonymous with the South, the churros were the one item chef Peter requested stay on the menu. Made to order, the sweet cinnamon treats are the best way to end the hearty experience.

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