Off the Menu: Grab a Fork and Dig In to Restaurant Week

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How much food can I consume in two weeks?

The answer: a lot, considering we’re talking about Newport Beach Restaurant Week, which starts January 15 and runs through January 28.

Yes, Restaurant Week has morphed into two weeks, which offers diners even more opportunities to visit the 60+ restaurants participating in Restaurant Week.

Some of my favorites are on the list as well as a few new ones, including Balboa Lily’s, Free Range Café, La French Touch, and Nobu.

Prix fixe lunches are $10, $15, $20 or $25, while prix fixe dinners are $20, $30, $40 or $50.

According to Dine Newport Beach website (DineNB.com), Restaurant Week was created by the Newport Beach Restaurant Association to drive business to its member restaurants and build awareness of the Newport Beach culinary community. The event not only introduces new customers to restaurants, but also enhances the economic vitality of Newport Beach.

Translation: entice new customers to sample signature dishes at a good value, thereby encouraging them to return another time.

After perusing the Restaurant Week menus as posted on DineNB.com, I selected some of the most interesting and best value menus—although most restaurants are indeed showcasing their best dishes at reasonable prices. And per usual, the lunch menus seem to offer the best values.

Menu highlights:

·        3-Thirty-3: $15 lunch. Three courses including soup or salad, choice of three entrées, and either a brownie with ice cream or key lime cheesecake for dessert. An excellent value. Also a $30 dinner with three courses.

·        A Restaurant: $50 dinner. Pricy but worth every penny. Four courses with choice of starters (including foie gras + Medjool date terrine), choice of soup or salad, choice of entrée including imperial oxtail, ribeye or poached bass, and dessert. Looks great.

Chef Blackford of A Restaurant

·        Avila’s El Ranchito: both the Newport and Corona del Mar locations have $10 lunch and $20 dinner specials that include Mama Avila’s Chicken Soup as a starter. Yum!

·        Balboa Lily’s: This Balboa Village eatery has a nice two-course $15 lunch menu and three-course $20 dinner menu, making a visit more than worth the effort.

·        Bayside Restaurant: One of my favorite spots to dine, Bayside has an impressive three-course lunch menu for $25 with choice of six entrees, and a $40 dinner with five entrees options. Can’t go wrong with either one.

·        Beachcomber Café: $20 lunch includes choice of starter and choice of entrée, plus endless ocean views.  

·        Bluefin: $25 lunch. Includes four courses. A great intro to one of the best sushi restaurants in OC. A dinner option for $50 is also available.

·        Campus Jax: Two-course lunch menu for $10 might be the best deal in town! The three-course dinner menu for $20 is also a tremendous value. The food here is terrific.

·        Canaletto: $25 lunch. Choice of four starters, six options for entrée, and dessert. A great value for food this good. Also a $50 dinner menu.

·        CUCINA enoteca: $30 and $40 dinners. Lots of options depending on which price you pick.

·        Dory Deli: $10 lunch includes choice of starters and choice of five entrees, including the Impossible Burger (a meatless burger that’s impossibly good). The $20 dinner menu is the same, but you can add wine, beer or a cocktail. One of the best values of Restaurant Week.

·        Fig & Olive: Every year Fig & Oliver offers a three-course lunch menu for  $25, and every year I wonder how they do it. Options include soup or salad, choice of several entrées, plus dessert. A great value. The $40 dinner is also excellent.

·        Five Crowns: This classic restaurant has a classic $50 dinner menu—a good value if you order the prime rib entrée.

·        Fleming’s Steakhouse: Speaking of value, Fleming’s has a tantalizing three-course lunch menu (yes–we said lunch!) for $25 that includes soup or salad, filet mignon or salmon fillet, and choice of dessert. An impressive price for food this good.

Chef Julio Hawkins of Fly ‘N’ Fish

·        Fly ‘N’ Fish: Once again, this restaurant outdoes itself with a $20 lunch menu featuring soup and salad plus choice of entrees. Also a nice $40 dinner menu.

·        Gratitude: The $20 three-course lunch menu looks terrific. A $30 dinner menu is also available.

·        Hopdoddy: $20 lunch. Choose a signature burger from a dozen options, a side, and any craft beer or one of the insanely-good milkshakes. Great value, great burgers, great shakes!

·        Lighthouse: $10 lunch with starter and entrée (amazing value), or $30 dinner with starter, more entrée options, and dessert. Dine indoors, or on the dog-friendly patio with heaters and harbor view.

·        Modo Mio: $20 lunch is a three-course menu with several entrée options. Terrific value at this comfortable Italian eatery.

·        Muldoon’s: $20 lunch. Includes the addicting soda bread, a starter, choice of four entrées, and dessert. A great value.

·        Oak Grill: This restaurant inside the Fashion Island Hotel has a nice three-course $20 lunch menu with a salad, choice of entrees and dessert.

Andrea Restaurant

·        Pelican Hill Resort: Andrea has a two-course $25 lunch with choice of appetizers and a choice of three entrees: pumpkin ravioli, wild salmon, and airline chicken breast. The food alone is worth it, but add that view and the service, and it’s a terrific value. Coliseum Pool & Grill has a $25 lunch that includes two courses, but the three-course dinner for $30 is a fantastic value. Pelican Grill has a $25 lunch and $50 dinner options. As usual, Pelican Hill Resort does it right. 

·        Pizza Nova: The $15 lunch menu includes choice of four starters, five entrees (including a personal pizza) and dessert. The four-course $20 dinner menu is also enticing. See you there!

Chef Cathy Pavlos of Provenance

·        Provenance: The $20 lunch menu is a three-course affair with choice of starters, entrees and dessert. Also a nice $40 dinner menu.

·        Red O: $20 lunch with choice of appetizer (including the famous duck taquitos), entrée and dessert. A fantastic deal. Also a $40 dinner with more entrée options.

·        Rockin Baja Lobster: Three-course lunch for $15 or $20 depending on entrée, and a $30 dinner.

·        SOL Cocina: $20 lunch includes choice of starters, three entrees, and dessert. Good $40 dinner option too. 

·        Stag Bar: $10 lunch. Choice of meatball sub or sliders, plus fries and salad. $15 dinner is half anti-pasto salad, personal pizza and beignets. The $20 dinner menu is similar, but add a glass of beer, wine or cocktail. Great deals from this classic bar.

Stag Bar

·        Summer House: $15 lunch menu is three courses including starter, choice of entrees, and dessert.

·        Sushi Roku: $25 lunch. Three courses, great food, classy ambiance.

·        Tackle Box: $10 lunch. Located at Corona del Mar beach. Choose a sandwich with house chips, a side, and Jones soda on tap. Great value.

The Winery Chef Yvon Goetz

·        Tommy Bahama: $25 lunch. Lots of choices, includes starter, entrée and dessert (try the key lime pie—delicious!). A good value.

·        The Bungalow: $20 lunch includes chowder or salad, one of eight entrees, and dessert. 

·        The Winery: $50 dinner. It’s pricy, but what great food Chef Yvon Goetz creates. Begin with a signature Alsatian pizza, followed by choice of three starters, several entrees (including the signature short ribs with prosciutto wrapped asparagus) and dessert. Classy restaurant, great experience.

·        Zinque: $20 lunch. Includes appetizer and choice of six entrees.

For complete menus of all the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, visit DineNB.com.

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