Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blue Coral - Newport Beach/Gelato Paradiso - Corona del Mar

Well, it's blue....


Since the opening of Paul Fleming's newest OC concept, we've been back about once a quarter to pay our respects. For us, that's a compliment. Repeat performanes are few and far between, since we are always looking for the next culinary adventure (that was not a reference to David Wilhelm). From the P.F. in P.F Chang's to the Fleming in Fleming's, his chains appear to have a steady following. Our favorite dining companion, Joshua, was back in school, and we wanted to provide a friendly reminder of life outside of budget restraints. This is our story.

Friday night, 6:30. We pull up to Fashion Island and as usual, the parking gods were looking down on Jack as a space became free. Take that, three cars behind us! We spend a few outside while Joshua has a smoke. I appreciated the chairs and benches flanking its entrance while we chilled. Making our way inside, the familiar sights and sounds greeted us. Their illuminated wall of vodka, duo flat screens projecting behind cascading 'walls' of water, and the tiles. I love the tiles. If I had a HGTV bathroom redux, these oceanic blues would be my muse. But I digress.

Michael welcomes us. Instead of specials, he provides an overview of his favorites for our consideration. We deliberate over sides to share and make our final decisions. It is time to order.....just as soon as I select my cocktail. Their selection of lemonades and mojitos do not disappoint. Yes, as much as I love tiles, I heart lemonades & mojitos even more. I select a lemongrass lemonade, accented with muddled basil. Refreshing! Joshua indulges with a little Ciroc vodka.

Before our flaky biscuits and creamy sweet butter can overpower us, appetizers make an appearance. Fanny Bay oysters salute us on a throne of ice with a bloody mary granita. Steamer clams join in with their intoxicating aromatics of white wine and garlic. After a sampling of both, I conclude that I am still not a fan of oysters (more for Joshua) and clams make delish comfort food (especially when cooked with pancetta). The men polish off the shellfish while I sit back in our coveted seashell highbacked booth and peoplewatch.

Dinner consists of three distinct dishes. At one end, we have the signature cioppino. Colossal shrimp, jumbo sea scallops, Alaskan king crab, Manila clams, p.e.i. mussels, and fresh fish in a tomatoey broth. There's no doubt in my mind that he will enjoy his meal. Upon Mike's recommendation, Joshua receives the sea scallops. The meyer lemon glaze enhances the overall flavor and wins him over. I took a chance and welcomed the Pacific wild swordfish 'Oscar style'. Who is this Oscar, and why is he styling my plate? Oh, you mean it's a mix of crab meat and hollandaise? Well, okay then. Oscar was a savory treat. The fish itself was dense and moist with flavor. Portion control was on the money for all three entrees.

On the side, we helmed an aerial assault on white truffled french fries. Per the kitchen's suggestion, we allowed a shower of grated parmesan to invade as well. Not as tasty as Stonehill Tavern, but it will do. The grilled farmer's market vegetables gave me a flashback of a meal at the Versailles chain when I requested a tomato salad, and I got sliced tomatoes with a sprig of basil. Our plate consisted of half a tomato, a few genetically enhanced asparagus spears (kidding!?), halved zucchini and Japanese eggplant, and a thickly sliced portobello cap. Their balsamic flavor provided a welcome subtle kick.

Anytime we're in the Newport area, our Kryptonite resides under the alias Gelato Paradiso. Their flagship location can't decide if they want to be more Newport or CDM, as you'll see from the address. There is ALWAYS a line here, and for good reason. Our friends agree it can hold its own with their overseas counterparts. Our first time there since the recent remodel, we noted rich browns enhancing the countertops and flavor signage. The light and dark chocolate hazelnuts (Gianduia and Bacio) looked enticing. Oh, and pumpkin was in the house! Ah, my first pumpkin treat of the season. It passed the time with a traditional hazelnut (Nicciola). Jack went for a mediano menta/mint chip plus dolce de leche/caramel. Joshua kept up with us and ordered pistachio. We strolled thru the aisles of Bristol Farms while savoring each spoonful. A fantastic flavor-filled evening came to a close.

Blue Coral Seafood and Spirits (Fashion Island)
451 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach

Gelato Paradiso (Corona del Mar Plaza)
951 Avocado Avenue
Newport Beach

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Comments on "Blue Coral - Newport Beach/Gelato Paradiso - Corona del Mar"

Blogger Vegasbuff said ... (October 28, 2007 at 5:36 PM) : 

Sounds like Fleming's has come up with a winner. Although I'm not a fan of PF Changs, Fleming's Steakhouse is very good for the money.

Blogger brekkie_fan said ... (October 29, 2007 at 7:37 AM) : 

I actually prefer Pei Wei for straight take-out (am I Americanized enough?). My friend's hubby who worked the kitchen at Crustecean (sp?) in SF told me that I would enjoy "farm food" because I ate so much tofu from PW. Oh, and yes, Fleming's is a fair deal. The outpost in Rancho Cucamonga's Victoria Gardens is divine.

Blogger polar said ... (October 29, 2007 at 12:44 PM) : 

ewww.. PF changs and Pei Wei.. i disown you, Brekkie. haha ok, not just yet. I'll give Blue Coral a shot. I just need a hawt date..

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (October 29, 2007 at 12:53 PM) : 

I like Pei Wei... *hangs his head in shame*

I find it interesting (and saddening) that many of the high end restaurants in OC are owned by corporations. For example, French 75, Chat Noir, Kimera, Bistango, etc.

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