Saturday, April 5, 2008

Wilhelm's Chophouse - Irvine

Searching Open Table for a dinner close to home, this caught my eye. I recalled a co-worker mention how she had planned to dine at French 75 on her birthday, but discovered they were closed for a changeover. It clicked. I phoned to inquire about Friday night reservations and was informed they were supposed to open on Thursday. However, Saturday would be opening night instead. Fabulous.

The style theme remained intact. Shaded chandeliers cast moody lighting and deep reds draped the interior. The crowd was mixed with couples and families casually dressed. A denim clad blonde bounded out the passenger side of her BMW and cut us off as we approached the host stand (manners, anyone?). She did not have a reservation, but found there was no wait. My 6:30 seating was intact, and we spotted David (Wilhelm) himself making the rounds.

Our corner was in the side dining room. Once seated, we realized our seats were uncomfortably far from the table. Sliding the table closer boxed us in. What to do? A creative moment took over as I motioned towards the pile of beaded throw cushions adjacent to us. A few back rests later and crisis was averted.

Another couple seated close by commented to our server about the lighting, or lack of. Reminds me of Habana at the Lab. If you can get past this obstacle, then it's all about menu selection. Upscale comfort food is one of my major weaknesses, and I was prepared to fall off the wagon. While their greens were standard fare, the stars of this show were the Chophouse Fav's. Our usual family-style ordering began with slow smoked baby back ribs. The tender meat was coated in a chipotle-honey barbeque sauce. We requested sides to be switched to their thyme-parmesan-garlic french fries (enough spice?) and some honey roasted peanut slaw. The matchstick potatoes were beat by the quiet crunch of mayo induced slaw.

Our second selection manifested into their Southern honey (is this a trend?) -buttermilk fried chicken. Boneless breasts crunchy and smothered in thyme cream gravy ran into a barrier of creamy mashed potatoes. It was so rich I could barely finish half. I'm guessing the third entree also contributed to my rapidly decreasing appetite. Part of 'Wilhelm's Local Economic Stimulus Package' options, we rounded out our dining tour with a barbeque spiced salmon. I swapped the creamed corn for spinach. A modest portion, it was a perfect addition to our mini buffet.

Wines by the glass were plentiful, say over 30 including sparkling with six and nine ounce options. I reckon there were also a dozen different starters and sides to mull over. The infamous souffle still requires over 20 minutes to rise, but it did not disappoint. Poufy and steaming, it was a ramekin of chocolaty bliss. I wouldn't recommend any other (the banana cream & white chocolate pie did little for us).

Service was eager to please that night, and we are already thinking about the next excuse to make a repeat performance.

Wilhelm's Chophouse ~ formerly French 75 Brasserie
13290 Jamboree Road (at the Market Place)

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Comments on "Wilhelm's Chophouse - Irvine"

Anonymous CW Guy said ... (April 7, 2008 at 10:45 AM) : 

Sounds like a nice night out.

Personal curiosity - what kind of wine selection did they have?

CW Guy
Wine Reviews

Blogger elmomonster said ... (April 8, 2008 at 6:50 AM) : 

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger elmomonster said ... (April 8, 2008 at 6:50 AM) : 

I said it once, I'll say it again: You're fast! They barely had the sign up for a week!

Blogger brekkie_fan said ... (April 8, 2008 at 9:00 PM) : 

From what I recall, it was mostly California wines. The bubbly only came in one flute pour size, but I was pleased by the breadth of the red & white lists. Certainly puts "The Winery" to shame.

Anonymous savvy gal said ... (April 10, 2008 at 8:05 PM) : 

Hmm... I have to try the place then. Has anyone been to Savannah at Costa Mesa yet, is it good?

Blogger Chubbypanda said ... (April 13, 2008 at 12:27 PM) : 

I dunno. I just can't get past the rebranding of all of Culinary Adventures' French restaurants into ones inspired by the "American South". When you read their press release on the reason why, it's like a throwback to the Freedom Fries years. There's something almost comical about it.

Blogger brekkie_fan said ... (April 15, 2008 at 10:15 PM) : 

I think it's amusing to retain their decor, yet change the menu altogether. Come on. Moody, red, fried chicken?

Blogger Griffin said ... (April 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM) : 

I just noticed that you and I posted a review for this restaurant on the same night! I guess we were both there for the Grand Opening. We were probably sitting right next to each other and we didn't even notice!

Blogger brekkie_fan said ... (April 24, 2008 at 12:49 AM) : 

I was facing a family of five (kids couldn't sit still) and a couple to my right who had trouble viewing the menu. I bet you were in the next room, or maybe the lighting was just that bad!

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (July 9, 2008 at 2:05 AM) : 

I went the service was horrible Our waitress never came around to see if we were ok with their little midget glasses of water we needed refills and I would have to flag her down. We ordered queso dip as an appetizer which came with a total of maybe 10 small chips we had a ton of queso dip left but were not offered any more chips our waitress was no where to be found so we just ate bread. From the time we ordered she did not come and check on us until my first course which was forever. For my first course I ordered the grilled salad & the lettuce it's self was actually grilled more like a burned, hot, yucky grilled blackened mess. My lovely entree came with a side of hair overcooked mushy Risotto and yucky mushy greenbeans it also came with two itty bitty child size kabobs of "filet" and lobster. So an hour later our waitress finally comes back to the table & I have pretty much a full plate of food and she's like want a box I say no thank you & explain the problem with the food & she just states ok I'll let the cook know & left for another 20 minutes as we wait for our dessert I'm still straving munching on bread. The manager takes a total of $12 off the bill and I wait for dessert for 40 minutes when I ordered it when we first got there. I was so upset we just took our dessert home. Left with an $80 bill hungry, thirsty,grossed out from the hair & service I will not be back.

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 15, 2008 at 7:46 PM) : 

Hat's off to the staff of this restaurant! They are awesome...
the restaurant is not "server friendly." Way too large and it was not designed very well... souffles... in the very back.. drink station... far corner.. bar.. the same...
hard to attain perfect service with a setting like this! They are great people... I will miss them all!
Beautiful staff..and restaurant!

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 16, 2008 at 2:50 PM) : 

Anonymous July 9th sounds like a spoiled bitch... she probably has never worked in a restaurant!
Get a life!

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 17, 2008 at 11:59 PM) : 

this place is close as of thursday 8/14 according to the register

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