Off the Menu: Brunch, Tea and a Clambake

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Deviled eggs

Nobody does French cuisine better than Marche Moderne. And now, nobody does brunch better than Marche Moderne.

Marche Moderne in the Crystal Cove shopping center launched Sunday brunch several weeks ago, and it is, in a word, “incroyable.”

The menu is packed with French classics and new twists on familiar fare, such as their deviled eggs. They make several kinds, but you can order a sampler platter, which I did. Out came elaborate deviled eggs unlike anything I have seen, or tasted: Meyer lemon with parsley and smoked paprika, smoked salmon with pickled cucumbers, suckling pig pork belly, and black and white truffle scented. The presentation was pure perfection, and devouring these delicate creations was egg-actly what I needed. I stuffed each entire deviled egg into my mouth, savoring the fabulous flavor combinations with every bite.

French toast

The traditional French style soft omelette stuffed with homemade fine herb goat cheese was another delicate treat. It came on a plate with a small mound of salad, a bit plain but packed with flavors once I bit into the omelette. The goat cheese and herbs are a nice complement to the soft omelette.

I concluded my brunch with the signature French toast, which consisted of a chunk of brioche with macadamia nougatine, coco-mango gelato, vanilla anglaise, and passion fruit crème monte. The flavor combination made my palate smile, and although I was getting full, I ate every bite.

Things I want to try on a return visit include the pancakes with lemon curd and raspberry ice cream, croque madame with sauce mornay and homemade truffle jambon blanc, and roasted lobster.

Marche Moderne was included in the recent California Michelin guide as a restaurant of note, but based on everything I’ve tried at Marche Moderne, they warrant greater Michelin recognition. 


Bluewater Grill Holds a Summer Clambake

July means Clambake Season at Bluewater Grill, which is bringing back its popular summer lobster and clambake celebrations with a special one-day Chef’s tasting with wine pairing and month-long menu event.

The celebration kicks-off with a July 9 Chef’s tasting featuring a cup of Bluewater’s famous New England clam chowder followed by steamed Maine lobster, Manila clams, fresh corn on the cob, crispy coleslaw and drawn butter. Add a lobster bib and hand-selected domestic white wines, and you have a meal valued at $65 but offered on July 9 for only $40.

Can’t make the July 9 event? Bluewater Grill will be serving the same complete menu without the wine pairing July 10 through 30 for the same price. Due to the long popularity of the celebration, which dates to Bluewater’s earliest years in Newport Beach, reservations are strongly encouraged.

I’m told that consistent with Bluewater’s commitment to seafood sustainability, the Maine lobster and Manila clams featured in the special meals are sustainably harvested.

Bluewater Grill co-owner and co-founder Jimmy Ulcickas hails from Massachusetts, and several Bluewater general managers hail from the Northeast, so they have adopted some of the best New England culinary traditions.

“Those range from our homemade chowders and authentic Lobster Rolls to our Stuffed Maine Lobster during the holidays, but our New England Lobster & Clambake continually ranks as the most popular, and has become a Bluewater summer tradition,” said Ulcickas.

For more information, visit

A Stylish Afternoon Tea at Montage Resort

The Montage Resort in Laguna Beach launched an afternoon tea service last month, which normally would not be on my culinary radar as I am not normally a tea drinker. Give me a caramel latte and I’m a happy guy.

However, once I saw the menu and convinced fellow foodie and frequent dining companion Della Lisi to accompany me (it didn’t take much convincing), I agreed to be one of the first food writers to experience the tea service.

Our expectations were set high—after all, this is the Montage, and the setting in the lobby lounge or on the patio overlooking the ocean offers a classy yet relaxing spot to sip a cup and indulge in an afternoon repast.

Like me, Della loves her coffee, but she also enjoys tea and was impressed with the variety of tea options. With 15 to choose from it’s not easy making a decision, but eventually – with a little assistance from our friendly tea server – Della chose the signature boutique blended ginger peach, while I selected the herbal bourbon vanilla rooibos. Both came out in French presses, which I liked—no flowery teapot for me!

An assortment of savory sandwiches followed: minted cucumber, smoked salmon with caviar, organic egg salad with spring onion, and Maine lobster with lemon crème. Each sandwich popped with flavor. We devoured them, then it was on to the “sweet indulgences” portion of the service.

A display carousel arrived filled with classic and raisin scones served with clotted crème plus homemade strawberry and rose petal jams, a lemon blackberry cream bun, grand cru chocolate rose, raspberry-violet macaroon, and honey-apricot financier. We loved the variety, and commented on the fresh flavors of the jams.

Signature orange almond cake

We were nearly full but saved room for the final course: orange almond cake, which like the other items was elegantly presented and bursting with flavors.

The setting was indeed relaxing and refined, complete with live piano music. The sandwiches and desserts were surprisingly substantial, and the teas packed with flavor.

The Montage tea service is $75 per person ($45 per child ages 4-12). For reservations and more information, visit      



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