Orange County Business Journal

Fresh Eatery Arranges Its Plates in Agreeable Row

Ironwood Impresses With Unexpected Food, Facility

Ironwood in Laguna Hills opened only a month ago, and we have been busy introducing friends via word of mouth and by taking them there. It’s rare for me to keep wanting to return to the same restaurant—there are just too many places I need to try, and there’s only one of me. To say that Patrick and I are quite taken by Ironwood would certainly be an understatement, and we are enjoying our multiple visits a lot.

South County Gains in the Gastronomic Department

South County is getting more sophisticated on the dining front.

South County is getting more sophisticated on the dining front.

News Flows From All Corners of OC’s Food World

Novel Ventures; Cookbook Morsel; Retooled Irish Fare

After decades in South Coast Plaza’s Crate and Barrel/Macy’s Home Store wing, Nello Cucina is no more. Antonio Cagnolo shuttered the operation in late February, focusing on his three other restaurants: Antonello Ristorante, Quattro Caffé and Antonello Espresso Café.

Restaurateur of the Year Built 2nd Career on Memories

Italian Food at Home, Trips To Italy Inspired Eateries

Cathy Pavlos, co-owner and chef of Lucca in Irvine and Provenance in Newport Beach, has earned her place as one of Orange County’s most admired chefs. She is our 2016 Restaurateur of the Year.

Supper Club Gets Love From Culinary Friend and Fifi

Brasserie Just Ahead Of Admirer’s ‘Farmhouse’

It’s refreshing to see restaurateurs help advertise each other’s new venues. In this case, Rich Mead, highly regarded for his former Sage restaurants, sent out positive commentary on Jack Jasper and his Campus Jax restaurant—full name Campus Jax, a mindful kitchen, brasserie & Supper Club.

Favorite Dining Choices to Help Start 2016 Off Right

Plus Fifi’s Rundown Of Departures, Newcomers

As I start the new year, I think back on good food I’ve had and what I look forward to now.

Dine in Holiday Style With the Best Seasonal Trimmings

Eateries Put as Much Time Into Decoration as Food

This is the time of year when all sorts of nostalgia takes over. We used to stop by and see the decorations at some of the upscale restaurants—there are now so many.

Recent Restaurant Closing No Surprise, Another Sad

Tamarind Dashed Hopes, Scott’s Ends on High Note

Double bombshells hit diners in the past month with the sudden closing of Tamarind of London at Newport Coast and news that Scott’s would be closing at the end of the year.

New Chefs, Enriched Eateries Offer Fresh Opportunities

Bistro Comes Into Its Own, Plus OC’s Best Indian Food

I mentioned two months ago that Little Sparrow in downtown Santa Ana had parted ways with its chef.

Restaurant Anniversaries Coincide With New Players

Plenty of Stalwarts, Fresh Fare Options to Browse

Moulin Bistro, Newport’s cute little culinary bôite filled with French aromas, ambiance, food and wine, and happy patrons, celebrates its first anniversary this month.

Abundant Restaurant News Starts Sad, Ends Glad

Chef Departs, Kids Fed, Laguna ‘Reunion’

Lots of Tidbits today: • The sad news: The shock of the month came with the announcement that Bruce Marsh, owner of Little Sparrow, the darling little restaurant in downtown Santa Ana, let chef Eric Samaniego go.

Fifi's Best

It always happens.

Golden Truffle’s Alan Greeley Has Recipe for Satisfaction

Creative, Eclectic, Friendly Style Cooks Up Delicious

I don’t even want to count how many restaurants I have eaten in this past year. But I can tell you that no chef has consistently impressed me more over a few decades, and still does, than Alan Greeley, the chef and owner of Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa. This special guy is my pick for Chef of the Year because he thinks globally about food and he makes culinary memories for all of us.

Lark Creek Recalled as Group Partner Cuts New Path

Chef Ogden Opens Diners, Works With New-Chef Son

Still sad over the quiet closing last month of the Lark Creek restaurant in Fashion Island. It had some of the best food in that upscale center.

Musings on Departing Eateries, Good, Bad Memories

Charlie Palmer Latest In String of Closings in OC

It came as a shock to serious diners that Charlie Palmer is closing his eponymous restaurant at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza at the beginning of May.

Upscale Bars Offer Comfort, Sociable Dining Alternative

Claim Center Stage With Inviting Decor, Food, Drink

Having a glass of wine with friends is no longer the cutting-edge trend. We are now having cocktails.

Chef Built Beloved Restaurant on Natural Talent

Mixes Ethnic Food Smarts, Hunger for Better Dining

Our now legendary Orange County lady chef and restaurateur Zov Karamardian set out to introduce the dining public to Mediterranean food 27 years ago.

Ode to Local Pioneer; New Twists in Familiar Places

Larry Cano Left Stamp On Ever-Dynamic Food Scene

We recently lost Larry Cano, a true icon not only in Orange County dining but a major player in introducing America to sit-down Mexican dining and cuisine at a sophistication level way above the familiar taco genre.

New Option at Spectrum, Old Standby in Anaheim

High Marks for Del Frisco; Jägerhaus Back on Radar

Del Frisco’s Grille opened recently at Irvine Spectrum.

Take It From Tommy Bahama: Follow-Up Matters

Take It From Tommy Bahama: Follow-Up Matters

This tidbit about a restaurant doing it right, doing what hospitality is really all about, seems like such a good way to start the column.

Upscale Dining Weekend, New Eateries on OC’s Plate

Famed Italian Chef Stars At Festival This Weekend

There’s a very special event happening at the end of this week.

OC’s First Din Tai Fung and Other Worthy Food Adventures

Chinese Dumpling House Delights With Each Morsel

Din Tai Fung, the famed Chinese dumpling house, opened two weeks ago at South Coast Plaza (entrance on the upper level next to Sears). I surmise that, having heard the buzz about its international reputation, the crowds will flow.

Café Tu Tu Tango Still Tempts Taste Buds for Less

Spanish Menu Served Up in Boho Indy Style

People always ask restaurant journalists: “What is your favorite restaurant?”

Dining on the Latin Side Vibrant, Tasty, Unexpected

Traditional, Progressive Eateries Serve Up Magia

This is the first time I have rounded up a group of Mexican or Latin-themed restaurants for Fifi’s Best. There are lists of the Best Tacos, the Best Margaritas, the Best Mexican Restaurants, and more in so many publications and online. I’m taking another avenue.

Recent Changes Stir Orange County Fine-Dining Pot

Some Very Good, Another Remains to Be Seen

Restaurants keep opening, many of them good, but when we spent time at the new Watertable in the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Hotel & Spa, we realized dish by dish that there are still culinary frontiers being conquered and ways to set the bar much higher. It has been one of the most eye-opening, palate-pleasing forays into fine dining on a comfort-food level that I’ve come across in a long time.

Same Place, Fresh New Vibe at Vine in San Clemente

Offers Warm, Affordable ‘Wine Country’ Experience

Old venues can rev up a lot of new excitement when someone with a strong restaurant background and reputation for being warm and respectful to his employees comes along as owner and offers up a singular kind of affordable wine country experience.

Seafood Lovers, Food Writers Mourn Chef’s Passing

Bluewater Grill Veteran Shared Passion With Smile

Orange County lost a beautiful person and passionate chef last month in Brian Hirsty, executive chef of the Bluewater Grill restaurants. He was only 48, and though he had a rare bone marrow disease, his death was completely unexpected.

Primo Restaurants for Fresh, Creative Spring Fare

From French Countryside to Sushi With a Flair

Springtime brings thoughts of colorful flowers emerging, a climate conducive to beaches and boating, and getting out as the winter fades, even though we’ve had such a mild winter.

Pelican Hill Offers Food, More for Locals, Guests

Trio of Restaurants Get Fifi’s Seal of Approval

There’s so much happening at The Resort at Pelican Hill all during the year. I’ll try to capsulize it but nevertheless want to bring you the best of the resort.

Passion for Food, Sharing It Make Dubray Stand Out

Pelican Hill Executive Chef Leads With Strength, Smiles

Our Chef of the Year, Jean-Pierre Dubray, has been engaging the public in appreciation of gorgeously showcased and inherently delicious food for more than three decades.

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It’s Hard Keeping Up With Pascal Olhats These Days

Brasserie Pascal Closing, Epicerie Moving—Where?

A couple of Pascal Olhats surprises popped up recently, and they do not make me happy.

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Balboa Bay Club Vet Hissin to Island Hotel as GM

Club Nabs Lesage From St. Regis, Plans Revamps

The exodus of the three well-known faces of the Balboa Bay Club and Resort is complete.

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Fresh Seafood Order of the Day at New Tustin Eatery

Plus, Food Mystery Solved, Hawaii Standout Revisited

Bonefish Grill has come to Orange County.

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Couple Brings Japanese-California Fusion to OC

Hush Veteran Reyes Back in Old LB Spot

Okura, a robata grill and sushi restaurant, has opened in Laguna Beach and is making use of the space that previously housed Hush and then Katsuya.

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The Ranch Loses Wine Expert, Keeps Abiding Quality

Michael Jordan Jumps to Jackson Family Fine Wines

Michael Jordan has left The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim

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Casual With a Side of Noise, Good Food and Ambiance

Restaurants Pop Up While Oldie Still Satisfies

Many more new restaurants are introducing themselves to us, and the trend is toward casual and noisy rather than sexy and romantic.

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Chefs Introduce New and Old Concepts With Aplomb

Fresh Twists on Familiar, Plus Old-School Cooking

EXECUTIVE DINING Column by Fifi Chao

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Easy But Fine Summer Dining in OC, at its Best

Seaside Eating, Local Ingredients, Ambiance

SPECIAL REPORT - FIFI's BEST: Summer Dining at its Finest

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Classic Italian Dining With Personal Touch is Winner

Chef From Italy Delivers Charm and Authenticity

SPECIAL REPORT - FIFI's BEST: Summer Dining at its Finest

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Fancy But Unpretentious Eating Abounds, I Need More

Plenty of Restaurants With Real Food, Plenty Without

DINING: Fancy but unpretentious eating abounds, in Executive Dining by Fifi Chao

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OC-Style Eateries Rise to the Top in Laguna Beach

DePalma Back at Old Spot, Katsuya Leaves PCH

OC-style eateries rise to the top in Laguna Beach, in Executive Dining

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Famous Chefs Set to Wield Knives Live For Charity

Fifty Shades of Food Event Set for April 26 in Anaheim

Famous chefs set to wield knives live for charity, in Executive Dining

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OClectic

Interesting Menus, Personal Insights From Varied Batch of Standouts

OClectic: interesting menus, personal insights from varied batch of standouts

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Restaurant of the Year: China Moon

Chen Family’s Moveable Feast

Restaurant of the Year: China Moon

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Month of Romance Is Here—So Are Romantic Ideas

Chocolate at Cocoa Lounge; Soirees at McCharles House

Month of romance is here—so are romantic ideas, in Executive Dining

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Prego Still Thrills; Mr. Stox Gets Ready for Farewell

Chef Ugo Gets Over Fire; Marshalls Circle March 15

Prego still thrills; Mr. Stox gets ready for farewell, in Executive Dining

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Seasonal Special: Bluewater’s Stuffed-Lobster Deal

As Eatery Works Toward Sustainability Approvals

Seasonal special: Bluewater’s stuffed-lobster deal, in Executive Dining

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Bistango Serves Up Artful Dining, Gallery-Worthy Art

Ghoukassians’ Flagship Eatery Marks 25th Year

Bistango serves up artful dining, gallery-worthy art, in Executive Dining

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Restaurant of the Year: The Winery

Finely Tuned Fine Dining

SPECIAL REPORT - FIFI's BEST - Restaurant of the Year: The Winery

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Delicious, Diverse

OC Offers Array of Dining Choices for Discerning Palates, Pocketbooks

SPECIAL REPORT - FIFI's BEST: OC offers array of dining choices for discerning palates, pocketbooks

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