Groups are Good at Tavern House

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Former Edison High School English Teacher Linda Carpenter (far left) and former Edison students at Tavern House. Writer Christopher Trela is center at the end of the table.
— Photo by Micaela / courtesy Christopher Trela

What do you do — or rather, where do you go — when you have a dozen high school friends from the 1970s (careful, I’m dating myself) who want to get together for lunch?

That was the dilemma I faced when agreeing to select a restaurant for a Saturday lunch with former Edison High School (in Huntington Beach) classmates, and our former English teacher, the revered Linda Carpenter.

Fortunately, most of us still live local, save for John, who moved to the Bay Area but still makes regular pilgrimages to Orange County. When he announced he’d be in town last month, a handful of fellow Edison grads checked our schedules and blocked out time to dine.

Tavern House Kitchen + Bar’s Buddha bowl is a favorite entree.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

When narrowing down a suitable location for an afternoon repast with time for repartee, I had several issues to take into consideration. The restaurant had to be easily accessible from anywhere in OC with plenty of parking (valet or free), it had to have approachable food at a good price point that accommodated various dietary needs, and it had to be fun.

After considering several options, we settled on Tavern House Kitchen + Bar. Their lunch menu offers something for everyone, it’s easy to find on Pacific Coast Highway, and fun is a given every time you walk through the door.

Once I announced my decision, I quickly learned via multiple emails that several fellow Edisonites had already dined at Tavern House and loved it.

Making a reservation for 12 was as simple as emailing Tavern House owner David Wilhelm, although anyone on the staff is happy to field group reservations. I warned them ahead of time there would probably be multiple checks, but they seemed unfazed.

A Tavern House Kitchen + Bar cowboy burger with cheddar, green chili, pecan wood smoked bacon, crispy onions and extra BBQ sauce.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

When our lunch date arrived, we had a section in the main restaurant reserved for our large party. That same day the patio was booked with a private party and near our two tables a spirited birthday party was already underway. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who knew Tavern House was good for groups.

Once everyone in our party arrived and was seated (we went from a dozen to 10, but no problem with Tavern House), we perused the menu. I ordered appetizers for the group: Warm house made salt and pepper potato chips ($9) and grilled campagne batard bread with olive tapenade ($7).

Among the entrees ordered around the table were the famous French 75 onion soup ($12), a Buddha bowl ($16), some daily specials, and for me, a cowboy burger with cheddar, green chili, pecan wood smoked bacon, crispy onions and BBQ sauce ($20) with a side of truffle fries.

Peanut butter pie is a new dessert at Tavern House Kitchen + Bar.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

As we dined, and chatted, I heard plenty of positive comments on the cuisine. My burger was, as expected, excellent. Wilhelm even brought me a ramekin of BBQ sauce, saying “I always like mine with extra sauce.” Good call!

Once the entrees were finished, I ordered desserts for the table to share: The fabled bananarama (essentially a decadent deconstructed banana split) and a fabulous new dessert, peanut butter pie.

As busy as the restaurant was, I have nothing but praise for our server Micaela and the other staff who tended to our needs. Thanks to Tavern House, our reunion luncheon was a success.

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