Off the Menu: Dining Without Whining

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Foie gras at The Winery
Foie gras at The Winery

By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

We’re often asked how we select the restaurants we write about, whether we go incognito or they know we’re coming, and why we seem to always like the food at every restaurant.

“You like everything,” one loyal reader recently told us. Our response: it’s hard not to like the restaurants in Newport Beach. Sure, there are the occasional dud dishes, and some restaurants aren’t our cup of tea—or slice of pie, but overall we’re lucky to have so many terrific dining options in Newport Beach.

When we began writing this column several years ago, we agreed we didn’t want to be the sneaky food critics who tried to find

Buffalo
Buffalo

fault with every dish. For us (and hopefully for readers), it’s more interesting to talk to chefs about their menus and ingredients, or mixologists about their creative cocktail concoctions, then it is to belittle a dish because we find fault with it.  

We’re frequently invited (along with other dining writers) to restaurant media tastings where we get to try new dishes, usually from a new menu that’s been launched, or from a new restaurant. This usually provides an opportunity to talk to the chef and chat about the menu (our last column about Andrea Restaurant includes several quotes from the chef about his new fall menu).

We sometimes compare notes with other writers at these events, but the media tastings offer us the chance to try more items than we might if we simply went to dinner and ordered something from the menu.

Roasted brussels sprouts with crispy pork belly
Roasted brussels sprouts with crispy pork belly

Occasionally a restaurant will invite us to a special event such as a wine or scotch dinner, or other unique dining event that shows off their cuisine.

And yes, if there is a restaurant we want to write about without being invited, we’ll go on our own.

Will Rogers once said he never met a man he didn’t like. We’ve been accused of never having a meal we didn’t like. There are times when we prefer one dish over another (and will say so), and sometimes new restaurants (and chefs) are not as good upon opening as they are a few months later, but we’re seldom served anything so terrible that we’re compelled to dis the dish.

As we said, Newport Beach really does have a plethora of prime bistros. From pizza and pasta to tacos and tequila, we’re happy to try it all. We’ve loved hole-in-the-wall hangouts, upscale burger joints and five star restaurants. They’re all part of what makes Newport Beach such a fun and tasty place to dine.

One of our favorites is The Winery Newport. We’ve been there for media tastings and events, but it’s also where we usually

Winery Chef Yvon Goetz with Catherine Del Casale
Winery Chef Yvon Goetz with Catherine Del Casale

celebrate our birthdays, Easter, Mother’s Day, and other special occasions.  

Why The Winery? Simple: we love their food, we love the staff, we love the experience. Chef Yvon Goetz has crafted a menu that reflects Newport Beach and Southern California while incorporating some of his distinct touches, such as a wild game dish that can change day to day.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the view of Newport Harbor from any spot in the restaurant is always spectacular.

We went to The Winery last month for Christopher’s birthday, and once again were reminded why we love The Winery.

“You can never go wrong with anything you order at The Winery,” said Catherine. “I can’t seem to stay away from ordering their superbly cooked eight-ounce filet mignon, which is always juicy with a lightly crisped edge. And I never miss out on having their black truffle steak sauce. My new favorite side is the roasted brussel sprouts with crispy pork belly bits. Not only do I feel somewhat healthy ordering it but the smoky-salty flavor is delectable.”

Christopher loves wild game, so he was excited to try the buffalo steak wrapped with bacon, which he dubbed “sensational.” He also had seared foie gras to start, which he said was “melt in your mouth wonderful.”

We also brought a bottle of Tobin James Private Stash wine (Chris’ favorite), which went perfectly with the meal.

For more information on The Winery, visit TheWineryNewport.com.

  

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