Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lido Deck & a mini foodbloggies reunion by the sea

LA & OC Foodie asked if I wanted to join a dinner in Newport Beach on a weeknight. Eh ... kinda far ... but then he said that the space used to be Blanca, which was where I first met him along with other bloggers for a Foodbuzz-hosted dinner.

inomthings and RumDood are coming also, he said, both of them I also met for the first time at Blanca. Oh! It's like a mini foodbuzz reunion at the exact same spot (though different restaurant now). We were also joined by Hey Hey Scenesters and e*starLA.

That Blanca space is now Lido Deck, a new restaurant helmed by Chef Don Schoenburg, formerly of Leatherby's Cafe and Tradition by Pascal (which I remembered reading a good review by LA&OC Foodie).

Though the space is right by the water and there are plenty of outdoor, water-side seating, as luck would have it, it was raining and freezing that night, thus we were seated inside one of their dining areas.

We started with a Charcuterie platter, all made in house: rabbit rillette, duck & olive, pork & parsley terrine.
Cheese: Humboldt Fog, 18-month dry aged Gouda, Spanish blue cheese (made from goat, cow & sheep), hard Tres Leches cheese from Northern Spain. Accompanied by honeycomb from Santa Monica Farmers Market.
I liked duck & olive terrine but my favorite was hands down the rabbit rillette. As for the cheese, I particularly liked the hard Tres Leches, especially with the honeycomb.
The platter was paired with a crisp 2008 Round Hills California Chardonnay.

New Zealand calamari, english cucumbers, black jewel heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives.
The squid was meaty, chewy, and firm. The black tomatoes may look funny and unnerving at first but it was actually firm and crisp and had a lot of juices. This was a nice and light dish to cleanse the richness of the charcuterie platter.

Next, to warm ourselves up in the chilly and wet night: Tomato soup w/ fennel, gruyere & brioche. Served with a little grilled cheese sandwich

Spicy shrimp w/ mango sorbet and mango gastrique
The shrimp were rubbed with Chile, pepper, and cayenne. The idea for this dish was for a beer-friendly dish, which it certainly was. It was on the spicy side for me though (working on it, I promise), but the others seemed to like it.

We then move on to the "main entrees" (not that we're not already getting full! :P ).
Cinnamon rub pork tenderloin w/ ratatouille, sweet corn polenta, with red mole.
The pork was well prepared, very tender and goes well with the sweet, flavorful mole.

Scallop, bacon, white truffle foam. Braised escarole.
The scallop is nicely seared and the bacon is a pretty tender and fatty slab. This is a revved up rendition of "bacon-wrapped-scallop" that is a tad decadent. Luckily the braised escarole helped balance it out.

Braised rabbit roulade, asparagus, chanterelle, celery root puree, white truffle foam.
The roulade was a rabbit tenderloin stuffed with mushroom salad (it had a nice fatty skin too). My only complaint was that the celery root puree was too cold. The white truffle foam shows up again here, but in both dishes I feel that the flavors of the rest of the dish overpowered the truffle foam, making it perhaps unnecessary.

We had another game meat entree in order: Venison, honey glazed, red wine reduction, root cauliflower puree, cippolinis.
We were so full at this point that we couldn't finish it. The venison was so good though, tender and pink in the center and just a bit gamey, the way I like it. I was sad to see them take away the uneaten pieces, but I couldn't fit any more.

We all shared a plate of four desserts, made by pastry chef/wife Christi Carter.
1) Medjool date cake, 2) Brioche french toast w/ brown sugar, braised pineapples, bananas.
3) Chocolate cake, 4)Sorbets: Strawberry, poached peach, lemon mango.
The date cake, dubbed "crack cake" by inomthings, was easily the table favorite.

I also really liked the Brioche French Toast, especially the addition of the braised pineapples.
The slight tartness from the pineapples really helped cut the richness of the french toast and made this exceed your usual french toast.

Don & Christi came out after dinner to chat with us and shared a bit of their story. They're both so friendly and are such an adorable couple.
Apparently if dining next to the water is not romantic enough for you, you can get a three course dinner from Don on a gondola!

While not all the dishes worked 100% for me, it was a solid meal throughout. This husband and wife team is a deserving star of the OC dining scene and I'm glad to see what they are bringing with their new restaurant. Waterfront dining with house made charcuterie, game meat, and decadent, addictive desserts? Maybe the OC isn't so bad after all ...

The Lido Deck
3420 Via Oporto Suite 101
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 673-9500
The Lido Deck Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: This meal was hosted.



Why did Schoenburg end up leaving Leatherby's?


I don't really know why he left but they did say they've always wanted their own restaurant again after their last one in Florida was damaged by Hurricane Wilma.

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