Taste of the Town

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Golden Foodie Award Winners

The first ever Golden Foodie Awards celebration took place Sept. 30 at the Fairmont Newport Beach. Orange County restaurants, chefs, bloggers and mixologists were honored in 30 categories. Hosted by comedian Frances Dilorinzo, the lively awards show featured many celebrity presenters, and several of the Real Housewives of Orange County were present, complete with film crew. The statuette presented to each winner is made of solid pewter, covered in 14-karat gold and created by the manufacturers of the Golden Globe awards. The winners, as chosen by patrons and local foodies, included Best Indian Food in Orange County: Tamarind of London; Best French Food in Orange County: French 75 (which also took home Best Mixologist); Best Tacos in Orange County: SOL Cocina; and Best Happy Hour in Orange County: Brasserie Pascal, among many others. K’ya Bistro, House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer, Stonehill Tavern, Cucina Alessa and Sundried Tomato Cafe were also finalists, though they didn’t bring home the win this year. For a complete list of winners, visit goldenfoodieawards.com. —M.M. 

A Village Favorite Gets a Fresh Makeover

A favorite family restaurant and tavern on Balboa Island for more than 50 years, The Village Inn is getting a modern makeover, says owner Dan Miller. “We wanted to bring back the coastal feel while maintaining approachability,” he says. For starters, a wall was knocked down and wood flooring installed to open up the space. Look for a fresh color palette and furniture in the near future. To freshen up the already-tasty bar food menu, they added appetizers like shrimp ceviche, crispy calamari and fresh hummus. Entrees like the locally-sourced filet mignon, sustainable salmon and Mary’s Farm smoked chicken are some highlights on an updated menu that is both sustainable and seasonable. “Expect an ongoing change of dishes,” Dan says. Entertainment has also been extended to seven nights a week too, with a comedy show on Mondays. (949-675-8300; the-village-inn.net) —A.B.

New Eats

Pioneer of organic Amazon superfoods, Sambazon Acai Café, traveled up the coast this summer to the Newport Peninsula, where it now serves a tasty selection of organic and GMO-free fare. The new menu boasts traditional items including the Brazilian Rio bowl and custom bowls designed by legendary surfer Rob Machado and professional skateboarder Bob Burnquist, in addition to a tasty selection of acai bowls, smoothies, juices and sorbets. (949-673-BOWL; sambazon.com/café)

LA-based Pitfire Artisan Pizza is firing up its signature rustic pies and handcrafted cuisine this November at a new location in Costa Mesa. The self-proclaimed “anti-chain,” which now has links along the left coast, offers several pizza varieties—don’t miss out on the burrata pie or Greens, Egg & Ham—each cooked in a 630 F wood-fired oven. Wash it down with a rotating tap brew, a glass of wine or homemade sangria. (pitfirepizza.com)

Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Café (Pandor means “golden bread”) now caters to Newport residents at its Westcliff Plaza location, opened this summer. Celebrating the true art of French baking with “sustainable ingredients, complex textures and global flavors,” the shop serves up artisan breads, Viennoiseries, pastries, tartines, paninis and salads, using sustainable, local and seasonal ingredients, complex textures and global flavors. (949-209-5099; pandorbakery.com)  Pacific Rim meets Pacific Coast at Ohana House, opened this summer by the owners of fellow Newport Beach restaurant Rudy’s Pub & Grill. Serving lunch and dinner, the casual dining experience dishes out California-fresh, Pacific Island cuisine on the Balboa Peninsula. (949-675-4665) —A.B.

Eastern Flair

Alfred Prasad, executive chef of the original Tamarind in London, has jumped the pond to debut a new menu and assume similar duties at the Crystal Cove location. He will split time between London and Newport. Alfred has 10 Michelin stars to his name and will be the only Michelin-ranked chef actively working in an Orange County restaurant. He has designed a menu that will include more of the classic Indian flavors the London location has been recognized for. Known for his coconut-based curries and skillful wielding of delicate spices, Alfred brings a unique perspective to Tamarind, resulting in some of the best Indian cuisine around. Tamarind is now open for lunch six days a week. (949-715-8338; tamarindoflondon.com) —C.H.

New at seasons 52

Fall brings a seasonally inspired menu and a new executive chef to Seasons 52: The South Coast Plaza restaurant recently announced the appointment of Hung Tram, previously the executive chef at La Creperie Café. He and his staff will prepare a fall-inspired menu through Dec. 20, including standouts such as cider-glazed grilled chicken skewers with fuji apple slaw, and entrees like the Piedmontese all-natural bone-in strip steak. For vegetarians, the autumn vegetarian tasting features a medley of grains, soft taco, chili relleno, vegetables, tofu, and mango chutney. The restaurant also offers a specially selected wine list for fall, including the Seasons 52-exclusive Vista Hills Orange pinot gris. Another reason to give these dishes a try: Seasons 52 promises nothing on the menu is over 475 calories. And yes, that includes dessert. (714-437-5252; seasons52.com) —L.D.

Craft-Raised Salmon

A trio of fine dining restaurants in and around Newport Beach are the first and only area restaurants to feature a new kind of sustainably farmed, craft-raised salmon on the menu: Five Crowns/SideDoor, Pelican Hill and Scott’s Restaurant (Costa Mesa) now offer savory selections from Skuna Bay, a Vancouver Island-based business that delivers fresh-from-the-ocean fare in less than 48 hours, ensuring the freshest fish possible. Fed only natural and sustainable diets, the salmon are harvested in small batches in a pristine ocean environment under strict environmental methods, resulting in a “buttery, mild, tender and fresh” farm-to-table salmon. (skunasalmon.com) —A.B.

’Tis the Season

Newport’s all-star restaurants and resorts are cooking up holiday menus and festivities for patrons to indulge in epicurean delights. Many will offer reprieve from cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, without deviating far from family favorites. Brasserie Pascal celebrates with crusted prime rib and thyme-lemon sea bass. At The Resort at Pelican Hill, Thanksgiving is an all-day event with a Ballroom Brunch and rustic Tuscan holiday menu with classical guitar accompaniment at Andrea Ristorante.

Christmas Eve and Day can also be spent out on the town. Brasserie Pascal will showcase how the French do Christmas Eve dinner with such entree selections as the Duck Duo, a crispy duck leg confit and roasted duck breast, and filet mignon, with lobster medallion and black truffle risotto ($55 per person). Christmas Day, The First Cabin has a notable seared Chilean sea bass and traditional yule log with pistachio creme anglaise for dessert ($87.50 per adult). Pelican Hill will host a Ballroom Brunch with all the traditional offerings, as well as children’s activities, including cupcake decorating and a puppet marionette show ($98 per adult).

New Year’s Eve, the last hurrah of the year, has just as much occasion to be around the dinner table. The First Cabin features live music, dancing and a midnight toast. Pelican Hill offers its patrons party cabanas at the Coliseum Pool.  With all the season’s celebrations, Newport dining hardly leaves its locals wanting—and, many other establishments are yet to reveal their plans, so inquire with your favorite spots before making your holiday selections. (Brasserie Pascal 949-640-2700; pascalnpb.com. The Resort at Pelican Hill 949-467-6800; pelicanhill.com. First Cabin 888-445-7153; balboabayclub.com.) —F.N.

Passing on the Crown

“To learn, to live, to love and to leave a legacy”—the mantra of Greg Harrison captures the wonder of his culinary endeavors as he takes the position of executive chef at CdM’s Five Crowns, a member of the Lawry’s family of restaurants, and at its sister restaurant, SideDoor. Chef Ryan O’Melveny Wilson passed the torch while he continues as the executive chef of Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc. Chef Greg brings with him more than a decade of crafting cuisine. Under Greg’s leadership,  expect thoughtfully prepared fare, made from organic ingredients hand-picked from local farmers markets. Five Crowns and chef Greg also host the new Chef’s Supper, where the chef creates a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. (949-760-0331; thefivecrowns.com) —V.Y.

Andrea Introduces Chef Luigi Fineo

Italy native and Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo is the new head chef at Andrea Ristorante, The Resort at Pelican Hill’s restaurant that celebrates the cuisine of northern Italy. As he takes the reigns, Luigi will lead menu development, kitchen operations and mentorship of the culinary team. Former head chef at Andrea, chef Jean-Pierre Dubray, will remain at the resort as Pelican Hill’s executive chef. Guests can expect seasonally driven plates created from locally sourced ingredients and gluten-free pasta recipes on lunch and dinner menus. Andrea will continue to offer fresh pastas made in the temperature-controlled Pasta Room, artisan-style gelato and an extensive wine list.

Chef Luigi was born and raised in the town of Gioia del Colle and graduated from the Italian Culinary Institute in Bari, Italy. He has worked in both northern and southern Italy as well as at The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Bouchon in Beverly Hills. In 2008 and 2009, he earned Michelin star ratings as executive chef of La Botte Ristorante in Santa Monica. (949-467-6800; pelicanhill.com) —L.D. 


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