Fall Fare Bountiful in Newport Beach
Autumn’s warmth doesn’t merely come from a sweater or fireplace. It stems from the familiar and the approachable; elements that remind us that there is consistency in our lives no matter how chaotic things may get. Nothing delivers this unique sense of comfort quite like food.
In the fall, these assuring bites take the form of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs goodness. While Newport Beach’s coastline tends to evoke different seasonal essences by default, make no mistake: the city excels in providing diners plenty of terrific comfort fare appropriate for lower temperatures and earlier evenings. As the following list shows, the city presents this unique feeling in many forms. Regardless of package, their results are the same – they’ll make you feel at ease.
Comfort foods don’t necessarily have to be foods. A drink will do just fine. Want proof? Simply stop by the Mariner’s Mile staple A Restaurant and order up a Vermont Old Fashioned. The New England state name-checked in the libation’s moniker isn’t just for show. Head barman Warren Junowich adds a little Vermont maple syrup to a base consisting of Whistle Pig rye whiskey, black walnut and orange bitters, along with a twist of orange. He also adds a candied walnut for good measure. It’s not just fall in a glass – it’s fall from 3,000 miles away, an element that imbues the drink with a unique layer of coziness.
Sometimes, comfort can be found in unexpected places. The Alley, an unapologetically unpretentious neighborhood joint found in Newport’s western coastal corner, demonstrates this rather well. You may not expect to come across a dish like Veal Scaloppini Marsala in a place this relaxed, but that’s part of the space’s relentless charm. This dish doesn’t just surprise, either – it satisfies by being excellent. The mushroom-laden veal dish is about as classic as it gets, which only adds to its sublime sense of comfort. You can also add a side of pasta to the plate, just in case you want to make things even cozier.
Side dishes are some of life’s most comforting comfort foods. It’s likely the reason so many of us leave so little room for the turkey on our plates each Thanksgiving. Few sides in Newport Beach evoke a proper sense of autumn warmth better than the Iron Skillet Cornbread at Corona Del Mar institution Bandera. The dish’s homestyle presentation adds a sense of visual comfort – the piping hot side dish comes to the table hanging over the iron skillet’s sides, almost appearing as if it’s trying to break free. The sight of the dish matches perfectly with its classic, slightly sweet flavor – an element that shines through no matter how much butter is spread on its surface.
Broasted chicken looks like fried chicken, but it’s not quite the same. While there is frying involved, broasting also brings pressure cooking methods into the preparation. This technique allows the chicken to retain extra juiciness without sacrificing a whit of fried chicken’s crispy crunch. The finished product isn’t greasy, either. In other words, it’s a delicious way to turn chicken into classic comfort food. The Chicken Coop off Old Newport Boulevard prides itself on making classic, old-school Broasted Chicken, and they should. Their take on the dish is about as pristine as it gets. It may not be as classically autumnal as other fall dishes, but that hardly matters. There’s divine comfort in practically every noisy bite.
A hearty stew serves as the ultimate soul-warming delivery system when the weather gets chilly. While it’s hard not to feel content when you have a bowl of meat, potatoes, and veggies in your clutches, Muldoon’s in the Fashion Island district isn’t satisfied with providing run-of-the-mill contentment. The “Irish” portion of their Irish Stew comes courtesy of the Guinness Stout they use in the cooking process, a touch that deepens the dish’s fall-ready flavors. Topped with a dollop of mashed potatoes, this is the dish you’ll crave after a blustery afternoon of shopping.
When done right, the grown-up version of ravioli tastes nothing like the canned ravioli that doubled as a childhood staple. Yet magically, the adult version will still evoke fond childhood memories of comfort. For proof of this, head to the venerable Corona Del Mar restaurant Rothschild’s and dig into a plate of their Ravioli Tricolore. You won’t find odd bits of ground beef or neon sauce here. Rather, you’ll indulge in pillows of cheese paired with mushrooms, peas, prosciutto ham, and a cream sauce. One bite will bring up soothing memories, but there’s a catch: You’ll end up wondering why the ravioli of your youth never tasted this fantastic.
Any item worthy of “bar food” status automatically doubles as comfort food. Chili fries unmistakably qualifies as both. The Prime Rib Chili Fries whipped up at the popular Corona Del Mar gastropub Side Door demonstrates this with tremendous aplomb. There’s nothing fancy about the presentation – a generous pour of spicy-but-not-too-spicy chili sits atop a heap of golden shoestring fries. Of course, the delectable chunks of prime rib shoot the simple looking plate of comfort into the stratosphere. It’s a slightly naughty dish that will make you feel oh so good – particularly if you pair it with a beer.
Pumpkin flavors are everywhere this time of year. While some choose to lament their ubiquitous presence, it’s far more beneficial to seek out bites that utilize its uniquely sweet and mildly spicy flavor to its utmost advantage. The Pumpkin Pancakes at the legendary Wilma’s Patio on Balboa Island makes this search easy for you. The stack of homestyle goodness features the full flavors of autumn, accompanied by the simple pleasure of syrup and butter. It’s a plate of rustic charm that will conjure charming memories of country living – even if you’ve lived in the city all your life.
Of course, sometime there’s nothing more comforting that a big ol’ cut of meat. This goes double if there’s still a bone attached. The Honey Glazed Kurobuta Tomahawk Pork Chop served up at the waterfront Mariner’s Mile venue The Winery provides a dose of comfort that can practically linger all autumn long. Executive Chef Yvon Goetz’s succulent cut is relentless in its juicy pork essence, and its honey glaze adds just the right touch of delicate sweetness to the entree. You’ll be tempted to pick up the bone. If you do succumb to temptation, at least make sure no one is looking.