Off the Menu: Leatherby’s “Lucy” Menu, Buffalo Frog Legs, Tacos & Tequila

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“Fred and Ethel“ hanger steak and crab cake
“Fred and Ethel“ hanger steak and crab cake

By Christopher Trela and Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

What could be more fun than watch a favorite episode of “I Love Lucy?” Watching it live on stage, which is happening through this weekend at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

“I Love Lucy Live on Stage” brings Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel together for an evening of hilarity based on the classic TV show (see review in the Curtain Up section).

And what could be more fun than that? Dining at Leatherby’s Café Rouge adjacent to Segerstrom Center, where Chef Ross Pangilinan has concocted another one of his terrific themed menus, this time revolving around “I Love Lucy.”

As always, Chef Ross put a lot of thought into his dishes. For example, the “Ricky Ricardo Orchestra” is a salad with avocados, lettuce, grapefruit, cucumber, red onions, and other ingredients, while the “Live on Stage” appetizer features curing Scottish salmon resting on a Himalayan salt “stage” with pickled beets, radish, lemon, and salmon caviar.

“I’m always impressed with the thought that Chef Ross puts behind his themed menus,” noted Catherine. “Not only are they delicious, but well-researched and thought out with multiple flavors and textures, like the ‘Live on Stage’ dish. The large block of Himalayan salt gave a ‘wow’ impression when it was presented to us. It also allows the diner to decide how much salt

“Live on Stage” Scottish salmon on Himalayan salt “stage”
“Live on Stage” Scottish salmon on Himalayan salt “stage”

they want, because the longer you let it sit, the more cured the salmon gets.”

“Another example was the dish “Lucy,” which consisted of four Swedish meatballs, potato puree, lingonberry and a forest mushroom cream sauce,” added Catherine. “Ross got the idea to make Swedish meatballs because, in doing his research, discovered the character of Lucy was Swedish. The meatballs did not disappoint. The beef and pork mixed meatballs had a sweetness to them from the brown sugar the caramelized onions were cooked in.”

“I thought the ‘Fred and Ethel’ combo of hanger steak and crab cake with corn succotash was fun and tasty, perfect for those characters,” said Christopher. “But I was lucky to get a bite of the ‘Cuban Sounds’ dessert.

“Cuban Sounds” tres leches cake
“Cuban Sounds” tres leches cake

“I couldn’t keep my hands off of it,” admitted Catherine. It had a flavorful tres leches cake, crisp sweet plantain and dulce de leche ice cream. The cake was fluffy with hints of cinnamon from the Chantilly cream. But I also liked the lighter ‘Tropicana,’ a mixture of tropical fruits like raspberry, kiwi, mango and pineapple, mixed with coconut water, passion fruit sorbet and tuile. There was also a little malted banana to give the dish more dimension. I loved how the sorbet and fruit melted into the coconut water, giving it a sweet but light flavor. It’s a unique dish.”

The three-course “I Love Lucy” menu is $45 per person, or $64 with wine pairings. For more information, call (714) 429-7640, or visit www.PatinaGroup.com.

A Culinary Trip to France

Adjacent to the Westin Hotel next to the Segerstrom Center is another Patina Group restaurant, Pinot Provence, a French restaurant with a sophisticated yet comfortable ambiance and food to match.

We recently attended a media tasting of several new menu items created by Chef Alfonso Ramirez, who said he likes to have fun with rustic French classics.

“French cuisine is simply the root,” he said.

His creative takes on French food include buffalo-style frog legs, which have Roquefort dressing, beurre-blanc sriracha, crème fraîche, celery sticks, and breakfast radishes. Those appear

Frog legs at Pinot Provence
Frog legs at Pinot Provence

next to the more traditional sautéed frog legs with black garlic purée, forest mushroom, and Dijon jus.

Chef Alfonso is getting ready to unveil his new spring menu, which he said includes a number of seasonal dishes, such as lamb cassoulet and warm octopus salad.

The other nice thing about Pinot Provence: it’s a two-minute walk to South Coast Repertory, making it ideal for pre-theater dining.

For more information, call (714) 444-5900 or visit www.PatinaGroup.com.

Tacos and Tequila

This is spring break time for many people, which often means out-of-town trips. For those headed to Palm Springs, make a stop at Morongo Casino, where throughout March they’re offering a spring break happy hour menu in their popular Tacos & Tequila restaurant.

Late-night specials are available from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The menu features $5 items such as guacamole, flautas, queso fundido dip, and a signature house-made margarita. A variety of other items priced $6 to $7 are also available, all courtesy of Executive Chef Saul Ortiz, who recently appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped.”

For more information, visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

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