Want music with your meal? That’s not easy to find in Newport Beach restaurants, especially on a week night. One of the few that does offer live entertainment seven nights a week is Port in Corona del Mar.
Christopher sat down with Port owner Ali Zadeh last Thursday to talk about the restaurant, which is approaching its 10th anniversary, and to sample a few of the signature dishes, all while listening to the one and only Jimmy Hopper live.
“We’re the fifth restaurant in this location,” said Zadeh. “It goes back to the 1960s with Pirates Cove, or Pirates Inn. Then it was Trees, and then Mistral, which was more like a weekend bar crowd place. Then for a couple of years in 2003 to 2005 it was Svelte, which was more like a nightclub. One writer said they were too svelte for their own good. They closed, we came in. We tried to find our niche—we wanted to be a neighborhood restaurant and have fun too. There really is no go-to place for diner and entertainment; we’re the only one in this area.”
Port offers a variety of musical styles, from Ron Kobayashi’s monthly Jazz Execs gig to local folk and pop musicians to entertainer
Jimmy Hopper, who was a mainstay for many years at Island Hotel and is renowned for his exuberant shows. Hopper performs every other Thursday through Saturday, and sings everything from Phantom to Sting.
Port has a global menu that features steaks, seafood, Italian cuisine (including make your own pasta dishes), and dishes with a Mediterranean influence, including Port’s famous kabobs.
“We went through some trials with the food,” recalled Zadeh. “We wanted to go international and bring in favorites from all over the world, so we brought in a chef experienced in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. The sous chefs were at Gustaf Anders and have classical training.”
On Zadeh’s advice, Christopher started with the ahi tartar ($12) with yellowfin tuna, red and green Tobiko aioli, and taro root chips (a nice touch), and the gnocchi ($14) with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, morel mushrooms and pesto.
“It’s too bad Catherine is on vacation, she’d love this gnocchi,” said Christopher after a couple of bites. “I love the combination of flavors in this dish. And the tartar is terrific.”
A sampler kabob plate ($23 to $32) with beef, chicken and salmon appeared on our table, accompanied by grilled tomatoes, sides of Tzatziki and Shirazi, and saffron basmati rice.
“This is cooked perfect—the meats and fish are all very tender, and I like that it’s served off the skewer so I don’t have to wrestle with my food,” said Christopher. “I’m bringing Catherine back next week to listen to Jimmy Hopper and try more dishes.”
Port is open for dinner nightly, and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring $10 bottomless champagne and $6 bloody Marys.
Starting Sept. 1, Port is introducing a new Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. daily, with a wide selection of food items priced $5 to $10 including Port’s signature sliders and kabobs. The Happy Hour drink menu includes a selection of wines and cocktails starting at $5.
For more information, visit PortCDM.com.