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Newport Beach Restaurants

Bosscat Kitchen & Libations

 

Bosscat, on MacArthur Boulevard between Birch and Campus in Newport Beach, is my 100th blog post. So, I wish it had been a more enjoyable experience. Not to say that Bosscat was not good, it’s just far from my Top Ten. It caught my attention because it features Southern style cooking. So with that in mind, Debbie (my first Thursday of the month foodie friend) and began our dining experience with Pulled Pork Hush Puppies – cornbread battered pork, deep fried and served with Carolina barbecue mustard. Not much taste to these, so the mustard saved this dish.
img_20190307_123829Entrée for Debbie was Fish in the Rye – Chef’s selected White Fish, Rye Whiskey Butter, Shaved and Ancient Grains. Those grains looked pretty much like rice in a sweet and sour sauce of some kind. I chose the Avocado Farm Chop – romaine Lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and Lemon Verbena. The well-seasoned shrimp served on top was the best part of the salad. All the vegetables were chopped so finely, it was hard to define the flavors.

 

The dessert was the best part of the meal – Chocolate Bourbon Custard, served with whipped cream and crushed carmelized pralines.

img_20190307_133740The Other Thing – The rest of the menu looks interesting, and the prices are fairly reasonable, service was fine. However, I don’t know if there is anything really special to lure me back to Bosscat.

Olea, Newport Beach

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Lots of hype about this new restaurant so we had to give it a try. It’s not as large as I was expecting but the interior layout with the bar in the middle is cozy and inviting.

Jennifer and I shared the Friend Green Tomatoes with Fresh Burrata Alla Panna, crispy Serrano ham chicharrones and hazelnut romesco. The burrata was slightly melted over the tomatoes – such a delicious blend of flavors.

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Interesting and varied choice of entrees, any of which would have been delightful. Crispy Jidori Chicken Schnitzle with wild Mushrooms, sugar pumpkin spaetzle, baby rainbow carrots and maitake mushroom gravy for Jennifer. I opted for the Bourbon Braised Kurobuta Pork Short Rib, creamy fromage Blanc grits, winter vegetables, mustard BBQ jus. Lots of fancy words to describe two scrumptious dishes!

They certainly don’t serve “small plates” here. Generous portions left no room for dessert, but we had some anyway – compliments of the house. The Homemade Belgian Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Ice Cream was much too good to resist.

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The Other Thing – Young, goodlooking and attentive waitstaff always help to make the dining experience pleasant.

Newport Beach Restaurant Week

 

Fifty one restaurants are on this list of establishments participating in Restaurant Week (It’s actually two weeks this year). My feeling is that these restaurants take this marketing opportunity to offer special pricing in order to lure more customers — the goal being that if you like it you will return, thus generating more business.

With that in my mind, I was greatly disappointed with the $25 fixed price menu offered by Bluewater Grill. Wouldn’t you want to feature a signature dish or a currently in-season fresh fish?  No so. Here is the menu:  Hot fresh Sourdough bread and Butter, Soft drink of Choice, Soup or Garden Salad. The choice of one entree was Grilled Salmon Sandwich, Beer Battered Fish and Chips, Aki Poke Bowl, Angus Burger or Shrimp Louie.

Our experience began well enough with a nice glass of house Pinot Grigio (not included in price) and a small bowl of chowder that was scrumptious – very creamy with lots of clams and the right blend of seasonings. Lynn’s Shrimp (and Crab) Louie looked and tasted great. Louie dressing was served on the side. I opted for the Grilled Salmon Sandwich so I could at least get some fish. Attractively plated, it was impossible to actually eat as a sandwich. The ciabatta bun was so dense and the 1/4 pound of arugula they used  with slices of cucumber and tomato were too much. I took the sandwich apart and made a lovely salad. The citrus vinaigrette dressing that came with the sandwich was quite tasty. The salmon, however, was overcooked and very dry.

Combine this with the waitress thinking that Restaurant Week was already over and the sun beating against our table (a sun shade eventually pulled down after several customer requests), it was a meal to remember, but not in a good way for me. Bluewater Grill has been in existence for many years – I assume because of its extensive menu of fresh seafood and its good service. It was not apparent this day.

To try another restaurant on the list, we drove to Balboa Island for dessert at Free Range Café (former food truck operation) on Park a block or so from the entrance to the ferry.

Outside signs are very clever, but I think this day was doomed from the start. There was only one other customer (it was after 2pm), and the waitress who I think was possibly the baker/manager was irritated that we were not there for lunch. She explained that since Mondays are always slow days for them, they did not have many desserts available – just a tray of  large cookies and something that looked like a dense cupcake.

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We had to carry our own plates to the table, and it took forever to get our hot drinks. When you need to cut cookies with a knife and have to press hard, you suspect that they were not same-day baked. Lynn’s Macchiato and my spiced Chai Latter were quite delicious however – a saving grace to the end of the day.

In fairness to this café, there were some standouts such as a bucket full of doggie treats outside the entry along with two bowls of fresh water. Their lunch menu does look kind of interesting, so it is not totally inconceivable to think of a return visit. I do believe in second chances – after that, not so much.

The Other Thing – I took one half of the chocolate chip cookie home for my brother to taste. After one bite he said, “How old is this cookie??”. I nuked the ciabatta bread I took home and made a tasty grilled cheese for dinner – perhaps the best meal I had all day!

 

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