Off the Menu: New Restaurants and Secret Spots

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Charcuterie plate at Provenance
Charcuterie plate at Provenance

By Christopher Trela and Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

Welcome to Provenance

It’s official—Provenance Restaurant is now open!

Chef Cathy Pavlos, whose Lucca restaurant in Irvine has garnered well-deserved acclaim, opened Provenance in Eastbluff Village Center on March 25, in the spot formerly occupied by Sage Restaurant.

Chef Pavlos has based her concept, and menu, on California’s wine country. Many of her ingredients are grown in the restaurant’s 1,300-square-foot organic raised-bed garden, which is on full view on the patio.

Chef Pavlos said sandwiches and lighter fare take center stage at lunch, while larger plates and daily specials are added for dinner. Sauces, dressings and other items are made in-house.

The kitchen features a private Chef’s table for up to eight guests, while a full bar serves seasonal cocktails created by Bar Chefs.

We’re attending a special media tasting at Provenance this weekend and will be reporting back with our thoughts on the menu, but Christopher couldn’t wait and decided to pop in to

S'mores
S’mores

Provenance on opening night. Catherine was on a juice cleanse this week, so fellow Indy writer Shelly Zavala went with him.

Christopher immediately liked the casual ambiance and the views of the garden from any table in the restaurant.

Chef Pavlos was in the kitchen, so he asked for her suggestions on what to order. Her answer: everything. But ultimately, she helped guide him to the housemade charcuterie ($23.50) with potted rillettes, duck pate, charcuterie, pickled veggies, and mustard.

Along with a basket of thinly-sliced sourdough bread, the dish was perfect for two. They also devoured the s’more in a jar dessert with housemade marshmallows ($9).

Provenance is a welcome addition to Newport’s dining scene. Visit the website for more details: provenanceoc.com.

Sliding Door No Longer a Secret

It’s no secret that we’ve become fans of The Sliding Door Café in Balboa Village. Chef-Owner Kevin Cahalan, a transplanted New Yorker, is making culinary magic in his tiny kitchen. However, we wanted to share this secret with fellow food writers, so a couple of weeks ago we invited four other food writers to join us for a special tasting of half a dozen of Chef Cahalan’s signature dishes.

Goat cheese fritters
Goat cheese fritters

We’re pleased to report that they too were impressed with the quality and originality of the dishes, and have already written glowing reports.

Catherine also wanted to weigh in with her opinion, especially because she noticed a cheesy theme running through the menu.

“I’m always a fan of anything fried so I loved the goat cheese fritters appetizer ($12). They were nice and crisp on the outside with a mild goat cheese filling that didn’t overpower the palate. The slight spice to the chili aioli dipping sauce rounded out the character of the fritters.

And then I was on to the lobster mac ‘n cheese ($13), which I’ve written about before but it really is a must-have. The combination of four different cheeses (aged cheddar, provolone, Jack and smoked Gouda) really gives the perfect balance of cheesy flavor, and the generous portions of lobster almost make this an entree-sized dish.

Sliding 1
NY Cheesecake

Another favorite of mine was the carrot ginger risotto ($24). The perfectly cooked risotto had hints of ginger and carrot that blended nicely with the cheeses used to make this creamy dish.

And finally, the New York-style cheesecake is another must. It has a creamy texture with a simple graham cracker crust and fresh berries.”

Interestingly, all the desserts are also made by Chef Cahalan. The menu changes seasonally, and often is based on Chef Cahalan’s spontaneity.

Visit TheSlidingDoorCafe.com for more information.

SOL Cocina Fundraiser

We received this notice about a special fundraiser: SOL Cocina is teaming up with Karma Tequila to raise funds for Team Member John Kokovitch, who was injured in a snowboarding accident. The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, March 31, at SOL Cocina Newport Beach.

Kokovitch has been a longtime SOL employee and is currently the manager at
Solita (SOL’s sister restaurant) in Huntington Beach. The funds will be used to help him through three months of recovery expected for his injury.

“John Kokovitch has been a member of our SOL Newport family since we opened in 2009,” said Managing Partner Matt Baumayr, who has known Kokovitch for more than a decade. “A few weeks ago, he suffered the consequences of a snowboarding accident and will be undergoing intensive therapy and recuperation for at least three months, so we’re trying to help make that time a bit easier for him.”

The event will also include a silent auction and live music. All guests will enjoy tray-passed appetizers created by Chef Deborah Schneider.

Those interested in attending may RSVP to Paige Wylie at [email protected]

Sommelier Training Course

On April 1, local sommelier Jörn Kleinhans (founder of The Wine Elite) launches a four-week sommelier course that will equip restaurant and hotel professionals, as well as motivated hobbyists, with professional level wine knowledge and the related service competencies.

Course attendees will receive 10+ hours of in-depth instruction on theory and customer service, and wine service and etiquette, including Champagne service, handling delicate aged wines, decanting, stemware, and more.

Participants will taste 40+ wines and learn key attributes and food pairings.

A team of 3 instructors with various wine certifications will provide a well-rounded overview of the best route to becoming a working sommelier and objectively informed consumer.

The course takes place on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Back Bay Bistro in Newport Beach. Cost including textbook is $479. For details, visit WineElite.org/SommelierCourse, or call (310) 467-5582.

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