Latest Adventures

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's, South Coast Plaza


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It was Costa Mesa Restaurant Week, so for date night, Boogs and I finally got to try one of Charlie Palmer's restaurants. I've been wanting to visit Aureole at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, but since a Vegas trip without kids is essentially out of the question these days, South Coast Plaza will have to do. For $30 per person, we were treated to a delectable 3-course prix fixe meal plus a few goodies, with the chef's compliments:

The restaurant space from where we were seated.

Mini baguette, and apple bread roll - warm bread and butter, who can ask for more? I liked the uniqueness of the apple bread.

Chilled Pea Soup - this amuse bouche consisted of chilled pea puree with shrimp garnished with olive oil and micro greens. It tasted earthy, verdant and it really prepped the palate for the meal.

Slow Braised Crisp Pork Belly - we ordered this appetizer as an extra dish because come on, let's face it, you just can't pass up pork belly. This tasty dish was served with a polenta (I think), caramelized plums, pickled onions and a port sauce. The pork was tender, but tasted charred. Nevertheless, all the flavors were married perfectly when the components are eaten together in the same bite.

Summer Melon Salad - Boogs's 1st course of summer melons, prosciutto, pickled onions and a ricotta walnut butter served with a white balsamic vinaigrette, arugula and basil oil. I didn't get a bite of this dish at all, but was only able to taste the vinaigrette, and it was really good.

Potato Leek Soup - my first course that was served with a salmon rillette, fennel caper remoulade and chives, and garnished with what I think was truffle oil, but I can't remember for sure. I felt that the strong flavors coming from the salmon and the remoulade completely overpowered the mild flavors of the potato and leeks , but it was a decent course overall.

Blackened Pork Tenderloin - my main course served with atop creamy grits, braised Swiss chard, shrimp and bacon jus. Quite honestly, my favorite part of the dish was the grits, everything else seemed to be competing with each other in terms of flavor and texture.

Salmon - Boogs's main course of salmon on top of bok choy and crispy jasmine rice. I really liked this dish; so much so that I wish I had ordered it. I wish I took notes.

Pommes Frites - also known as French Fries. Free french fries. No complaints!

Meyer Lemon Tart - my dessert course of a tart complemented by a blackberry coulis, lavender meringue and a honey ricotta gelato. I'm not a fan of lemon desserts but chose this for variety's sake. I did really like the gelato and the meringue, because their sweetness cut the tartness of the lemon.

Mint Chocolate Brownie Sundae - Boogs's dessert, which is what I should've chosen. A double chocolate brownie concoction served with mint chocolate ice cream and hot fudge. The mint actually was more prominent than I expected, but I would have eaten this any day over a lemon dessert.

Overall, Charlie Palmer's served up a great meal, and I really appreciate Restaurant Weeks because it allows people on a budget to experience a great, upscale dinner.