RVOC July 2011 : Page 90

Crown Royalty Going into the fa mily business couldn’t have been a better fit for our fave up-and-comer Rya n O’Melveny Wilson , the new executive chef at the venerable Five Crowns (3801 e . Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949.760.0331, lawr ysonline.com). He wowed us with his seasona l gastro grub and charcuterie at SideDoor , located right next door (hence the na me), and, now, the fourth-generation gourmand is t wo months into his new post as top chef. Wilson began his culinar y career as a prep cook at Five Crowns before work ing at napa va lley’s La Toque and Quince in San Francisco. Today, he is dishing out innovative cuisine right a long with our beloved mainstays — and that keeps him on our radar. ba lboabayclub. com) is first-cla ss in t he ser vice depa r t ment— s e t t i n g t he g old s t a nd a r d . e x p e c t effor t less c atering to e ver y request a nd on ly one r u le: no cel l phones, plea se. Vintage Points W hen t he oenophi le w it hin craves a nig ht out, A nd re a (22701 S. Pelic a n Hi l l Road, ne w por t Beach, 949.467.680 0, pelic a n hi l l.com) is t he place to go. It s floor-to-cei ling wa l l of w ines features t he best Ita lia n a nd Ca lifornia n labels. The u n i qu e f o o d -d r i v e n w i n e l i s t at Old V i ne Ca fé ( The Ca mp, 714.545.1411, oldvinec a fe. com) pa irs w ine w it h a pri x fi xe menu. At M r. Stox (1105 e . K atel la Ave., A na heim, 714.634.2994, mrstox.com), you c a n choose f rom 1,10 0 w ines. A nd The W i ner y (26 47 Pa rk Ave., Tu stin, 714.258.760 0, t he w iner y restaura nt.net) stock s it s 80 0 -squa re-foot w ine cel la r w it h 5,0 0 0 bot t les — a l l stored at t he per fect temperature. Chapter One’s Mexican-inspired version of the classic Bloody Mary. LiP-SMaCkiNG LiBaTiONS O.C. mixologists continue to raise the bar on what passes for a cocktail that kicks. Chapter One ’s (227 n. Broadway, Santa A na, 714.352.2225, chapteronetml.com) Mexican-esque Bloody Mary has bacon-infused bourbon and an ancho-chile-mole mix. Mesa (The Camp, 714.557.6700, mesacostamesa.com) infuses Latin flavors into The Clash: tangerine and arbol-chile-infused vodka, cilantro, lime and Tuaca. Watermarc (448 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949.376.6272, watermarcrestaurant.com) offers an Italian take on the Caprese: a blend of vodka, tomato water and fresh basil with a Gorgonzola-stuffed olive and a tomolive (pick led tomato). Best Service The wa it sta ff, clad in white s t e w a rd ja c k e t s a t B a lb o a Bay Club & Resor t’s Fi rst Cabi n Re st au ra nt (1221 W. C oa st Hig hway, ne w por t Beach, 949.630.4145, Haute Buns O.C., meet the “burger bar”—the newest trend to simultaneously whet and satiate our appetite for classic A merican fare. Here, the burgers we’ve flipped for: The Counter (Ir vine; newport Beach, thecounterburger.com) and Slater’s 50/50 (6362 e . Santa A na Canyon Road, A na heim Hills, 714.685.1103, slaters5050. com) both offer mountains of choices so that when you do indulge, you get exactly what you want, down to the last topping. At 25 Degrees (412 Wa lnut Ave., Huntington Beach, 714.960.2525, 25degreesrestaurant.com) order a more sophisticated burger, with toppings like ja lapeño bacon and prelibato Gorgonzola. Or, settle your beef at Memphis at S a ntor a (201 n. Broadway, Sa nt a A na , 714.56 4.10 6 4, sa ntora . memph isc a fe.c om) where Tue sd ay is bu i ld-you r-ow n-bu rger n ig ht. Taco the Town Mexican food has come a long way—from the 1 am taco stands (yeah, we’ve indulged in a late-night taco or two) to The Camp’s newest addition, Taco A sylum (714.922.6010, tacoasylum.com). With a menu designed by Haven Gastropub chef Greg daniels, the global taco selection at this hip joint ranges from the traditional to the unheard of (like the grilled octopus tacos). The pan-Latin cuisine at Raya (1 R itz Carlton drive, Laguna niguel, 949.240.2000, ritzcarlton.com) provides a sophisticated take on Mexican fare, with an exotic Taco Tuesday bar that includes wonton smoked swordfish and short rib adobo tacos. For more authentic Mexican cuisine, Sol Cocina (251 Pacific Coast Highway, newport Beach, 949.675.9800, solcocina.com) can’t be beat. We love the classic carne asada street tacos and the chipotle-garlic shrimp tacos with mango sa lsa. La Sirena Grill (Laguna Beach, Ir vine, lasirenagrill.com) is another great traditiona l Mexican eater y that boasts organic, sustainable food with a hea lthy t wist. Best PResentation At Montage Resort ’s Studio , every dish is a work of art. Plating perfection is chef Craig Strong, whose savory gourmet masterpieces are a feast for the eyes and the palate. With a clean white plate doubling as a blank canvas, he carefully arranges his culinary treasures with meticulous attention to even the most minute details. enter the divine crab and melon salad, which looks so beautiful that it seems a shame to dive in for a bite. But you will, and we won’t blame you. 30801 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949.715.6 42 0 , studiol agunabeach.com 90 | | July 2011

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