Local Chefs Share Their Favorite Dining Hideaways Part 2
In case you missed Part 1, we are interviewing talented local chefs about their favorite local restaurants.
Executive Chefs work long hours, six days a week. We started to wonder—-just where do they go on their day off? So, we set out to find the answer to this very question. In most cases, the Chefs we interviewed are very adventuresome souls. They travel far and wide to enjoy all types of cuisine—from Korean barbeque to Mediterranean. They enjoy Spanish, Japanese, Thai and everything in-between. Chefs are an inquisitive group, and enjoy exploring great food, visiting with other Chefs, and observing their presentation and service styles.
Bringing it back to a local Newport Beach vibe, here is what some local Chefs kindly shared with me….
Chef Pascal Gimenez ~ Café Beau Soleil & Creperie in Fashion Island
“I tend to like authentic places and travel all over to try many different types of cuisine. In this area, when I have a day off, and am away from Fashion Island, I really enjoy going to Crystal Cove. The Beachcomber Café has great Bloody Mary’s and their Ciabatta Bread Stack —toasted Ciabatta bread with a pine nut basil pesto is a memorable appetizer. Who can beat that and a walk on the beach? Just across PCH, is Bluefin Japanese Restaurant. I usually yield to the “Chef’s selection” as to what I will have, however they have the most incredible sea urchin, so I always order that. In that same center is Javier’s, and it is hard to pass up their delicious house margaritas. It is a great place to people-watch. Further up PCH is SOL Cocina. This is another favorite spot when I am in the mood for a “Cassoulet” I head to SOL for their delicious Shrimp Cucarachas. Twelve whole shrimp—- broiled and crispy on the very top, and includes pan roasted garlic, lemon, chile, and cotixa cheese. It is served in a cast iron casserole dish, which keeps it nice and hot. A memorable dish indeed!”
Pascal Gimenez is the Executive Chef and Owner of Café Beau Soleil & Creperie, located in Fashion Island. This is a charming organic French & California sidewalk café. This restaurant offers inside dining and the outdoor patio is very “pet-friendly”. It is open on the weekdays from 7am to 9pm and on the weekends from 8am to 9pm. It is a great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has the best French Onion Soup in town. And it is the only place I know of in Fashion Island where I can have a glass of wine, a delicious salad and have my dog by my side!
Chef Pascal Olhats ~ Café Jardin- Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar
“Where do I like to go in Newport Beach? Well…when I want to have a relaxing Sunday lunch, I like to go to the outside terrace of the Balboa Bay Resort at A&O Kitchen+Bar to enjoy some shellfish and smoked salmon along with some good bubbles. The view of the harbor is just lovely. Another place I like to go is, of course, on the water—and that is The Cannery Seafood of the Pacific. I usually go there mid-week to enjoy a birthday lunch or celebration. It is quieter than the bustling weekend, and they take very good care of me. They also have great wine deals (I love the Sancerre). If I go for a fun cocktail I go to Billy’s at the Beach out on the patio. I especially like to make a stop there whenever I am on a Duffy boat cruising the bay. But really, to be honest, my secret place is Cafe Jardin at Sherman Library and Gardens. When everyone is gone, after lunch I take a good Espresso, sit down either out in the patio or on the tea garden terrace, set up my laptop or my pad of paper and work on menus. At that time of day, all kind of birds are flying around and scampering through the garden. It is my office in paradise.”
Pascal Olhats is the Owner and Executive Chef of two restaurants: Café Jardin at Sherman Gardens and the newly opened Pascal’s in San Juan Capistrano. Pascal also manages private events, and leads the “Breakfast/Dinner In The Barn” Series with guest chefs appearing for intimate dining experiences at Manassero Farms in Irvine. (Pascal Olhats is in Macau, China right now, at the request of their Tourism Bureau. He is exploring Chinese and Portuguese cuisine. He will be bringing back his experiences to showcase Macau at the upcoming Newport Beach Food and Wine Festival— among other event in Southern California.)
Café Jardin is a special spot that I enjoy for girlfriend lunches and celebrations. Their grilled salmon with a lovely salad is one of my favorites. However, I am always tempted by the quiche which is made in the traditional French style. The desserts are delicious and we typically share just one. After lunch, we tour the gardens. It is a wonderful afternoon escape.
Café Jardin- Located in the Garden at Sherman Gardens
2647 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
www.pascalnpb.com or 949. 673.0033
Cathy Pavlos ~ Provenance Restaurant in Newport Beach
“Monday nights tends to be a slower night for us, so my husband Elliott and I enjoy going out. The Winery is one of the restaurants that is right on the water, and is just a great setting for us to escape for a few hours. My husband loves their lamb, and I like all the seafood choices. I must admit the desserts are delicious!
Another spot we enjoy is SOL Cocina. They just have great Mexican food. I order their flat iron steak and the selection of tacos are super. It is hard for me to go there without enjoying one of their house-made Margaritas. That is for sure. We enjoy watching the boats pull up to the dock, which is kind of a hidden little gem on the water.
Early Sunday evenings we can often be found at Il Farro near the Newport Pier. (We do tend to sit this spot out during the summer months when the pier is full of sun-seekers.) I am Italian and will readily admit that I am a tough audience to please in this category of cuisine. However, this spot has two thumbs up from me. We really enjoy their Antipasto Platter and I often order the Linguini and Clams—incredibly rich and flavorful. The restaurant offers us an intimate setting on a walkway—- just off the boardwalk, and the service is great as well.”
Cathy Pavlos is the proud and passionate Owner and Executive Chef of Provenance in Newport Beach and also Lucca Café in Irvine. Provenance is a lovely new addition to the fold here in Newport, and with a nod to Napa, how can one possibly go wrong? It has a local wine country farmhouse vibe, serves organic produce. All in a charming garden setting. And as the seasons shift, so too does the menu with new arrivals spawning their creativity in the kitchen. There is always something new to try! I have enjoyed everything I have had, from the Carpaccio of Garden Beets with feta cheese, to the Newport Wedge with slow cooked shrimp, and the Jidori Chicken, to the amazing Turkey Meatloaf. And best of all, it is a quiet and restful dining experience eating in Cathy’s garden.
Photo Featured on slide: SOL Cocina tacos