By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy
We love musicals, and seldom miss one of the Broadway touring productions at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
We also love dining at Leatherby’s Café Rouge adjacent to Segerstrom Concert Hall, because they usually feature a fun, themed menu that perfectly matches the musical.
We enjoyed Executive Chef Ross Pangilinan’s creative South American menu for “Evita” last month, but he’s outdone himself with the inventive and delightful French-style dishes for “Beauty and the Beast” (which is set in France) that runs through this Sunday, January 19.
The three-course menu is $45 per person, or $64 with wine pairings. We opted to skip wine and have French champagne instead.
Catherine loved the “Be Our Guest” first course: black truffle scented forest mushroom soup with a melted brie en croute and honey essence.
“The sweetness of the honey enhanced the earthiness of the soup, which had a thicker, almost puree consistency,” she said.
“You’re right, it is fantastic,” I agreed after taking a bite, then another. “But so is my ‘Belle’ salad with baby beets, citrus and feta.”
For the main course, Catherine tried the “Beauty and the Beast” oxtail risotto and sautéed local white shrimp with savoy cabbage, charred scallions and oxtail braising jus.
“The oxtail represents the Beast and the white shrimp the Beauty,” explained Chef Ross.
“This is a fun combination of flavors, and the risotto is soft yet firm,” said Catherine.
“This is fabulous coq au vin,” I said as I dug into my entrée.
For dessert, we had “Mrs. Potts,” a green tea panna cotta with sweat and sour strawberries, Madeleine’s and meringue chips.
“This dessert reminded me of an adult version of rainbow sherbet,” noted Catherine. “The panna cotta acts as a base to the sour lime-like flavor and sweetness of the strawberries.”
We also had the “Transformation” dessert: pretzel bread pudding, stewed apples, caramel apple ice cream, kettle corn caramel and pretzel tuile.
“I have never had anything like it,” said Catherine. “The saltiness of the pretzel with the sweetness of the apples is a great combination.”
All I could say was, “wow!”
We finished our dinner five minutes before curtain, but the restaurant is a one minute walk to the Center, so we were in our seats with plenty of time to spare.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen “Beauty and the Beast” but this was Catherine’s first time seeing the live version (as opposed to the animated film).
I had forgotten how much fun this show is, made all the better thanks to an outstanding cast with superb voices. The story is engaging, with clever staging and outstanding costumes that nearly steal the show.
At the conclusion, we joined the rest of the audience for a hearty and well-deserved standing ovation.
“The transitions and transformations during the show were superb,” said Catherine excitedly as we left. “I really enjoyed how they transformed the beast into a man at the end. I’m still stumped on how exactly they did it.”
“It’s theatrical magic,” I told her.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how much humor is in the show in addition to the usual flamboyance of the characters like Lumiere and Cogsworth,” she added. “The beast had a youthfulness about him that I wasn’t expecting.”
“You can always expect the unexpected when you come to Segerstrom Center,” I said with a smile. “And to Leatherby’s Café Rouge.”
For tickets to “Beauty and the Beast,” visit SCFTA.org. For info on Leatherby’s Café Rouge, visit PatinaGroup.com.