Well tonight was July’s Foodie night out. My friends Tim and Brooke pick a moderately priced restaurant once a month and we treat ourselves to some great food, wine and dessert. This month, a group of fine restaurants around South Coast Plaza are running a 4 course meal for $40 – a steal for the price. We initally had picked Charlie Palmer’s new restaurant, but decided to try Savannah’s instead. Here is the initial menu. You’ll notice that there are only 3 courses listed. The real first course is an Amuse Boush that is selected by the Executive Chef.
Well it turns out that at 5:30, Brooke wasn’t feeling well and asked to bow out of Foodie Night. I went over to her desk to see if I could convince her to go, but she really looked tired. So Tim and I talked and decided that we didn’t want to experience Savannah without her.
Tim and I decided we were going to try dinner at a place that we have eaten at before for lunch. Lucca Cafe & Market is a restaurant located in Irvine in the Quail Hill Center. The executive chef prides himself as using locally grown ingredients from local farmers. Our experience at Lucca was wonderful when were there for lunch. We were excited for a nice dinner.
Tim and I got there and we were seated promptly. They have a unique dinner experience. You are greated with a series of dishes as you walk into the restaurant. They are antipasto dishes. The server tells us that they offer a “tapas” style dinner format and that all the dishes on the menu are tasting size portions. Tim and I decided that we are going to start with their suggestion of 7 different antipasta selections and augmented it with a mixed sampler of seafood and grilled meats.
We were escorted to the antipasto table and each of the items was described and we selected 7 items and they were “heated” and brought to our table. Our selection consisted of two tart shells, one filled with artichokes and goat cheese, the other with sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, basil and cheese. Another selection was a stuffed zucchini and eggplant along with a grilled Portabello mushroom with tomatoes and crispy leeks. Everything was good. However, all the antipasto dishes were actually the ones on the display. Everything was pre-made and heated under the salamander. I wish they were all freshly prepared. Anything that had a “stuffing” of some-kind had that certain look that it was stuffed and put under a hot broiler. Very disappointing. Some items tasted salty while others weren’t.
The next two dishes are the seafood sampler and the mixed grill meats. While we were still working on the antipasto, the seafood dish shows up. There is a grilled diver scallop in a Parmesan cup with a mushroom stuffing. Second we have a crabcake and third item was langostino. The scallop had good color and looked like it was grilled perfectly. However, it was just on the edge of becoming like rubber. It wasn’t, but another 30 seconds of heat and it would have been. My expectations of a Parmesan basket is one that is light and airy. This Parmesan crust tasted like it was made two days ago and sat in the fridge. It was thick and dense. I liked the filling. Next we come to the crabcake. It is literally topped with crispy leeks. Now the leeks tasted like it was fried two hours ago and sat in a bowl waiting to be expedited onto a plate. There was more crispy leeks that there was actual crab in the crabcake. The crabcake had no taste whatsoever. Careful inspection was a crab filled cake with little filler – but it lacked taste. The third was the langostino and that was the most tasty item on that plate.
Our mixed grill plate arrive just as we were in the middle of our seafood plate. Our grilled meats consisted of grilled lamp, Kobe beef and chicken sausage. Let me start by saying that I’m not a big fan of chicken sausage. Bruce Aidell makes a wonderful chicken sausage, but its not the first thing I would choose. That said, I enjoyed the chicken sausage. There was a Dijon mustard sauce that accompanied the sausage, but it was just right, it didn’t overwhelm the sausage. My next taste was the Kobe beef. The beef was cooked at medium rare to medium and it was so tender – I LOVED it. So we both grabbed a piece of lamb and as I started to cut into my piece, I found myself applying a lot of pressure on my knife. Once I cut into it, it was well done and grey and it was a very dense piece of meat. I like my lamb medium rare. This lamb lacked any taste and it was so tough. Meanwhile, Tim was praising his lamb. He had a piece that was on the bone and from my vantage point, he had good caramelization on the outside and was medium rare inside. I pushed my piece of lamb aside and he tasted it and said it was not what he experienced on his lamb piece. There were two Kobe pieces left and a slice of chicken sausage left. He offered his Kobe piece to me to make up for the lamb. I love Kobe beef so I was happy.
After a brief “rest” our server asks if we are having dessert. Tim and I are mulling over the menu. Meanwhile, we both order coffee. The coffee was hot and fresh. Tim pointed out that his cup was fuller than mine, but he didn’t ask for cream, while I did. He said our waitstaff was attentive and intentionally left room for me to pour cream into my coffee. I think he was right. While my food experience tonite wasn’t the greatest, the waitstaff was attentive.
So, Tim and I decided on our desserts. Tim would choose a peach and Blackberry Cobbler, while I threw caution to the wind and went with the Raspberry, Chocolate, Mocha Menage a Trois. Why caution to the wind? I’m not a big fan of chocolate, but for some reason I was feeling it tonight. My plate had a flourless chocolate cake, raspberry sorbet with chocolate chips and a mocha mousse. Of the three, I really enjoyed the sorbet with the small chocolate chips. Biting into the sorbet with a surprise of crunch from the chocolate was wonderful. The flourless chocolate cake was very dense and had the feeling it was made a few days ago. The mousse was ok. Tim really enjoyed his cobbler, he finished his bowl, while I had some leftover cake on my plate.
So, all in all I had a great evening with a good friend. The company and conversation made the evening, not so much the food unfortunately. One thing that stood out, either it was too salty or lacked flavor.
I look forward to Foodie Night with Brooke in August!Filed under: Food, Restaurant Review