Off the Menu: A Restaurant Menu Reveals New Delights

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Jordan Otterbein and Joseph McGinty Nichol (McG)

Last month I wrote about CdM, the new restaurant concept coming this fall from A Restaurant partners Jordan Otterbein and McG under their company umbrella River Jetty Restaurant Group.

CdM is going in to the former Crow Bar and Kitchen spot on Coast Highway in Corona del Mar. A Restaurant chef Jonathan Blackford has been appointed Corporate Executive Chef to guide both A Restaurant and the new CdM.

Otterbein told me the Crow Bar space is being completely remodeled. When diners enter CdM they’ll encounter a large rectangle bar in the middle of the restaurant with booths on each side, similar to A Restaurant.

CdM will serve high end creative American cuisine, but less steak centric than A Restaurant.

“We wanted to do things that sets us apart from other restaurants in the area,” Chef Blackford told me. “We’re going to have pastas made in house, a pizza oven, stuff we can’t do here at A Restaurant.”

I recently had the opportunity to talk to McG, a popular movie director and producer, about his new project.

“It’s born of Sea Kings and Sailors,” he quipped, referring to the team names from Newport Harbor High School and Corona del Mar High School, the alma mater of both Mc G and Otterbein. “About half the people that come in to A Restaurant are Newport Harbor people, the other half are Corona del Mar people.”

“We want to provide a place where everyone is welcome,” he continued. “We love the magic of a British pub, kind of a ‘Cheers’ culture.”

Dungeness crab bruschetta

McG noted that while the vibe of a restaurant is important, you’re nothing without excellent food.

“Everyone today demands the best, so our food needs to be excellent, and the service needs to be excellent and friendly,” he said. “Those are the three elements—vibe, food, service. Also, we don’t do this for profit, although we’d like to be a dollar to the good. We want to contribute to the community and be around for 100 years. Our goal is provide a galvanizing experience for the community.”


McG also praised Chef Jonathan Blackford, whom he called “such a passionate guy in what he does. We support him and go on his food journeys. He’s always interested in evolving and learning, moving with the ever-demanding taste buds of our customers. Without that passion you have nothing.”

I got a sample of that passion recently when I had dinner at A Restaurant to see what Chef Jonathan was cooking up on his current menu.

I started with Dungeness crab bruschetta ($17) with chilled crab salad, English pea puree, avocado, pea shoots, lemon vinegar and old bay atop ciabatta bread. Wow—talk about a perfect combination of flavors. May be my new favorite appetizer. It’s also a pretty dish on the plate.

I followed the bruschetta with jumbo diver scallops ($34) with sweet corn cake and a pepper puree. Again, a fabulous dish with large, juicy scallops. The corn cake and puree were the perfect accompaniment.

Lamb chops

I ended with Colorado spring lamb ($48) with swiss chard, potato, English peas, sugar snaps, mint, and a basil emulsion. Unlike some lamb I have had elsewhere, this was perfectly cooked and seasoned.

The Patz & Hall Pinot Noir ($25 per glass) went well with all dishes, but I was there on a Tuesday night and learned that all bottles on the wine list are half price on Tuesdays, and after perusing the wine list I’m ready to go back and try some new wines.

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