Off the Menu: A Culinary Salute to Summer

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OAK Grill Slow Smoked Sundaze

Summer is almost here, and a handful of local restaurants are introducing fun and tasty culinary experiences.

Oak Grill Brings Back Slow Smoked Sundaze

Oak Grill at Fashion Island Hotel is bringing back its popular Slow Smoked Sundaze event every Sunday in June, July and August (except Father’s Day) from 5 to 9 p.m. I sampled the Sundaze cuisine last year and loved the experience of chowing down on traditional BBQ dishes while dining al fresco on the Oak Grill patio.

Oak Grill Chef Brittany Valles brings a touch of Southern hospitality to Newport Beach starting with cheddar cheese biscuits served with fresno chili jelly and garlic herb butter, and house made seasonal pickles.

Starters include watermelon salad, smoked salmon deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes with burrata, country ham and herb chipotle aioli.

For the entrée, select two main dishes including smoked chicken, cedar plank salmon, whole grilled branzino, BBQ brisket, herb roasted prime rib and smoked hot links served with Texas and Carolina style BBQ sauce.

Sides include roasted corn and barley salad, carrot slaw, heirloom potato salad, BBQ baked beans and – my favorite – slow smoked mac n cheese.

Pair this with the house’s spiced pineapple punch, and desserts created by Pastry Chef Andy de la Cruz.

Cost is $45 per adult, $17 per child ages five to 12.

Oak Grill Father’s Day Surf and Turf

On Father’s Day (June 17) at Oak Grill, it’s time to show dad how much you love him with steak and lobster specials from 4 p.m. to close.

On June 20, there’s a fabulous Nickel & Nickel Five-Course Wine Dinner at Oak Grill. Located in Oakville, Napa Valley, Nickel & Nickel is dedicated to producing 100 percent varietal, single-vineyard wines. The winery is particularly known for its Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and its state-of-the-art winemaking set on a preserved 1880’s farmstead.

I love wine dinners when an expert is there to guide you through the wine pairings. For this one, Nickel & Nickel winery representative Mark Pighini will be on hand to interact with guests as Chef Brittany Valles and her team pair dishes with Nickel & Nickel Stiling Vineyard Chardonnay, Far Niente Estate Chardonnay, Bella Union Pinot Noir, Nickel & Nickel Quicksilver Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Nickel & Nickel Rock Cairn Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Far Niente’s legendary dessert wine, Dolce.

All this for only $135 per person.

Coming later this summer to Oak Grill: Oak Grill Five-Year Anniversary Party on July 13, Duckhorn Wine Dinner on July 25, a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Dinner, and Towne Park Brew Beer Dinner with the dynamic and fun founder and owner Brett Lawrence on August 29.

Brett Lawrence of Towne Park

Ongoing throughout the summer are the 7 ‘til 7 Happy Hour at Aqua Lounge and Happy Hour Fireside at Oak Grill seven days a week from 4 to 7 p.m. Bites and shareables such as Popcorn Shrimp and Warm Artichoke and Parmesan Dip are just $7. At nightly Fireside Sessions there is live acoustic music on the patio from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information, visit (949) 760-4920, or visit

Bluewater Grill Gets Crabby

For its monthly themed dining event for June, Bluewater Grill is getting crabby, but that’s a good thing. Seafood and shellfish lovers can indulge in soft-shell crab during the month-long celebration dedicated to the delicacy.

Soft shell crabs at Bluewater Grill

The Bluewater “Get Crabby” Tasting on Tuesday, June 11 features soft-shell crab prepared two ways: sautéed with crab lemon caper beurre blanc with fingerling potato salad and vinegar aioli, and tempura-style served with Asian vegetable salad and cilantro vinaigrette. These dishes are paired with a Kungfu Girl Riesling from Washington and an Acrobat Pinot Gris from Oregon.

This cost of the celebration is $40 per person. The same special feast can be ordered off the menu throughout the month, minus the wine pairing—although you can easily add a glass of wine to accompany the crab.

According to Bluewater Grill, soft-shell crab is a culinary term for crabs which have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft, making them entirely edible. The most popular variety in the U.S., the Blue Crab, is typically served May through September deep-fried or sautéed.

Consistent with Bluewater Grill’s strict commitment to seafood sustainability, the Blue Crab served during the tasting complies with sustainability standards established by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach or other third-party organizations dedicated to fish-origin certification.

Cor more information and reservations, visit

SideDoor Presents Game Night in the Backyard


Ready for games? SideDoor gastropub in Corona del Mar is ready to provide them this summer.

Every Monday through Wednesday, through September 25, SideDoor celebrates summer in its backyard patio with Game Nights.

Each Monday through Wednesday, look for the Union Jack flag flying above SideDoor and head to the backyard for Game Night in the picturesque outdoor patio and garden. Enjoy outdoor fire pits and new lawn games like cornhole, Yard Pong, giant Jenga and Connect Four.

The full SideDoor menu will be available for backyard guests. Sip on specialty cocktails under the twinkling lights and savor signature dishes courtesy of Executive Chef Alejandra Padilla.

For more information, call (949) 717-4322 or visit

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