By Erin DeWitt
We can’t believe it’s 2010. As we enter this new decade, one thing is apparent: Times are definitely changing. New trends are popping up all over the place – everything from adventurous new menu items to adventurous new restaurants- businesses today are really striving for the unique and modern. Though the classic foundation of a successful restaurant will always remain -true hospitality, good food, drink and atmosphere – the way to keep old ideas fresh is to put a spin on them. Welcome to the future of dining!
These English-inspired pubs are popping up all over the county. Despite the rather unappealing name (it’s a combination of “gastronomy” and “pub”), they focus on the delicious: high quality drinks and high quality food – all in a relaxed, cozy environment. Offering much more than your typical domestic beers and bar snacks, Gastropubs turn a casual night at the pub into a gourmet affair.
SideDoor: Celebrating a grand opening this January, Lawry’s Restaurants quietly opened SideDoor, an authentic English gastropub. SideDoor shares an historic building with Five Crowns restaurant in Corona del Mar. Both housed in an authentic replica of Ye Olde Bell (England’s oldest inn), this new addition will center on small plates portioned for sharing, cheese and charcuterie, along with a selection of world-class spirits. SideDoor’s menu is printed daily to incorporate the fresh and just delivered delicacies, and is directed by Dennis Brask, Executive Chef of Five Crowns. No reservations will be taken; guest may sit wherever they wish. SideDoor, 3801 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949.717.4322, www.lawrysonline.com.
Haven: Since it’s opening in September, Haven has become the new hot spot in Old Towne Orange. An open space with dark wood and a spacious bar, Haven serves up rich, refined comfort food along with an impressive selection of Belgian beers, micro-brews and other fine spirits. Chef Greg Daniel’s menu is eclectic and imaginative: everything from black truffle mac n cheese to hanger steaks to candied bacon ice cream, this gastropub’s price range is equally across the board – ensuring a satisfying experience no matter the budget. Though Haven is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., reservations are recommended, as this popular place gets packed. Haven, 190 S. Glassell St., Orange, 714.221.0680, www.havengastropub.com.
Ra: One of the oldest cuisines still enjoyed today, sushi was traditionally a simple delicacy of raw fish, rice and seaweed. These days, however, sushi restaurants have taken the humble concoction to new and artistic heights. Ra Sushi, a stylish eatery that can be found in several locations across the country, pushes the borders of traditional sushi – the results of which are equal parts fun, beautiful and delicious.
Gojira Roll: Shrimp tempura, Kani Kama crab mix, cream cheese and cucumber rolled and topped with spicy tuna and spinach tempura bits; served with Sriracha and spicy mayo.
Spicy Rice Crispy Treats: Soy paper hand rolls filled with crispy rice balls, spicy tuna mix, cucumber, avocado, lettuce and sauteed nuts; served with a soy chili sauce.
Ra-llipop: Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, spicy tuna mix, lettuce, asparagus and cucumber wrapped in lobok; served skewered with a garlic ponzu sauce.
Mango Lobster Roll: Lobster mix, avocado and cucumber rolled and topped with thinly sliced mango; served with mango-tobiko and kiwi-wasabi sauces.
Ra Sushi, 155 5th St., Suite 183, Huntington Beach, 714.536.6390; 2401 Park Ave., Tustin, 714.566.1700, www.rasushi.com.
The pinnacle of all-American fare, the cheeseburger is one of the most common (and delicious) menu items around the country. The quintessential choice for both lunch and dinner (though there are some amazing breakfast burgers out there, too), the cheeseburger’s variations are limited to only that of the imagination. Since its inception nearly a century ago (discrepancies abound as to who invented this burger first, with claims going as far back as the 1920s), the cheeseburger can be found anywhere from drive-thru to gourmet, and everywhere in between. But it’s not about the standard meat-cheese-veggies formula anymore. So what makes a great cheeseburger? Two buns and some creativity.
The 50/50: 50% ground beef, 50% ground bacon patty, fried egg, avocado, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo. Slater’s 50/50, 6362 E. Santa Ana Canyon Rd., Anaheim Hills, 714.685.1103, www.slaters5050.com.
A Burger: Caramelized onion, smokey blue cheese, bacon, arugula, 1000 Island dressing. A Restaurant, 3334 Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, 949.650.6505, www.arestaurantnb.com.
Crow Burger: Ciabatta, tallegio & gorgonzola, roasted tomato marmalade, rocket.
The Crow Bar, 2325 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949.675.0070, www.crowbarcdm.com.
Jonathan Burger: Grilled pineapple, pickled beets, arugula, 1000 Island, over-easy egg on sweet Hawaiian bun. Salt Creek Grille, 32802 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, 949.661.7799, www.saltcreekgrille.com.
The Number Three: Ground sirloin, mezzo secco jack cheese, green chili, chipotle and avocado. 25 Degrees, 412 Walnut Ave., Huntington Beach, 714.960.2525, www.25degreesrestaurant.com.
Portobello and Sausage Burger (Vegan): Grilled seitan sausage, pommodoro, caramelized onions, vegan mayo, pesto and sweet roasted garlic. Native Foods, 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714.751.2151, www.nativefoods.com.