Feed Your Inner Health Nut
January is typically when people hit the reset button, implementing diets that are often radical and unsustainable. We support a more measured approach, with healthier food that doesn’t sacrifice flavor. 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of Newport Beach Restaurant Week, which lasts from January 18-31st. Learn about 10 participating restaurants where you can feed your inner health nut.
Poolside dining dictates that you eat relatively light. After all, it’s key to stay svelte in a swimsuit. For lunch at this ocean-inspired restaurant at The Resort at Pelican Hill, which provides views of the Pacific Ocean and sidles up to a pool coated with sea-blue mosaic tiles, Chef Micah Severeid prepares seasonal food with an emphasis on local ingredients. His menu for Newport Beach Restaurant Week leans lean, with dishes like a wedge salad with honey crisp apple, candied walnuts, golden raisins, Roquefort blue cheese, and sparkling apple vinaigrette. Fish is a promising option at either meal. Lunch brings maple-glazed salmon with sautéed baby kale, toasted farro, butternut squash, apple, and salsify purée. Dinner stars pan-seared barramundi with herb-roasted baby potatoes, sautéed spinach, charred corn, and fire-roasted red pepper coulis.
This restaurant from Ruby’s Diner founder Doug Cavanaugh debuted in December at Balboa Peninsula’s Marina Park. The steel and glass structure resembles a lighthouse and overlooks the harbor. In the kitchen, Chef Ryan Sumner is strong on salads and seafood. For Newport Beach Restaurant Week, he’s featuring a baby gem lettuce salad with green goddess dressing. At lunch, grilled albacore joins Napa cabbage slaw, avocado, wonton crisps and sweet chile mayo in a sandwich. At dinner, grilled swordfish graces quinoa, roasted corn, peppers, tomatoes, and tarragon lemon vinaigrette. If you’re comfortable straying from the sea, pan-roasted chicken is a flavor match for farro ragout, peas, curry honey roasted carrots, and lemon thyme butter sauce.
Chef Andrew Gruel, the devious mastermind behind “boat to plate” dining, showcases sustainable seafood in creative ways at his growing chain of Southern California restaurants. At his “modern seafood shack” in Newport Beach, he features over-the-top crowd pleasers like the Chicago-style lobster dog and chowder fries topped with a fried egg and bacon. Still, Gruel also knows when to show restraint, as evidenced by the crispy tuna tacos and classic lobster roll, which are both on the Restaurant Week menu.
Fuel up before returning to the shopping fray in Fashion Island at Mariposa, a fashionable café located inside Neiman Marcus that has a dining room with pixilated green banquettes and bar counter that overlooks stylish customers. Executive chef Javier Montoya specializes in contemporary American cuisine. For Mariposa’s two-course lunch, Chef Montoya’s most enticing option just might be sweet white corn risotto with pancetta-wrapped Mexican prawns and white balsamic vinaigrette for an added burst.
Chicago legend and “Top Chef Masters” champion Rick Bayless continues to hone his high-end Mexican cuisine at Fashion Island. Slip into a tequila cocktail before indulging into some of the plates inspired by the chef’s extensive travels in Mexico. Some of the more invigorating dishes on RED O’s Restaurant Week menu include fresh corn and goat cheese tamales dressed with tomatillo salsa; organic mixed green salad with roasted goat cheese and cilantro vinaigrette; and roasted goat cheese, avocado, red onion, cilantro vinaigrette fish of the day with guajillo chimichurri. Bayless clearly loves goat cheese.
Jeff Reuter docked his restaurant by Lower Newport Bay in 2005. For Restaurant Week, aside from a duo of Key lime cheesecake and chocolate brownie, they’re primarily featuring healthy options. For their two-course lunch, consider tortilla soup and tangy chicken piccata with white rice and sautéed green beans Almondine. They sub a salmon patty for standard beef in a burger, which comes on ciabatta with chipotle aioli, tomatoes, red onions, and crunchy cabbage. As part of their three-course dinner menu, pan-seared mahi-mahi arrives on a bed of couscous with asparagus and cilantro butter sauce.
Billy’s at the Beach, situated by Pacific Coast Highway, is well known for harbor views from the patio, which pair nicely with nightly live music to create “aloha in the heart of Newport.” Dinner with a show might include papaya chicken salad or an oceanic skewer of shrimp, scallops, and swordfish plated in papaya beurre blanc with baby bok choy and brown rice. For dessert, Key lime pie adheres to Key West traditions, comes with whipped cream and is downright judicious when compared with Hawaiian bread pudding.
L.A. based Innovative Dining Group’s chic Fashion Island outpost takes Japanese cuisine for repeated spins. Eclectic ingredients like jalapeños and olive oil often infiltrate traditional sushi preparations and small plates. For Newport Beach Restaurant Week, a simple kale salad luxuriates in ginger plum vinaigrette. At dinner, start with San Ten Mori, a trio of oceanic appetizers: seared albacore sashimi with fried onions and garlic, ponzu tuna sashimi carpaccio, and sesame soy fluke kumquat sashimi. The sushi course at dinner multiplies matters to a quintet, with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, sea bream, and King crab. For dessert, as good as a mini chocolate volcano with vanilla ice cream sounds, you’ll probably feel even better by sticking with sorbet and fresh fruit.
This brick-wrapped Balboa Island classic is a great place to watch a game, grab a drink, watch live music, or perhaps all three. The Newport Beach Restaurant Week menu keeps with their mission to “Eat*Drink*Entertain.” In culinary terms, that translates to Strawberry Fields salad with Spring mix, goat cheese, candied walnuts, strawberries, and strawberry vinaigrette. Lunch’s seafood taco trio stars salmon, Baja-style fish, and shrimp, all served with tortilla chips, avocado cream sauce, and salsa roja. Dinner brings a more ambitious seafood preparation: blackened salmon with pineapple relish.
This stylish Thai restaurant with elaborate murals and accentuating plant-life resides right near Balboa Coves. Chile pepper emblems signal spice on an expansive menu, which includes iconic Thai dishes like tom yum soup, and of course pad Thai. However, Royal Thai can dive far deeper. For instance, the restaurant grills huge fresh-water prawns from Thailand’s Chao Praya River, which are either dressed with tamarind and curry sauce, or stir-fried with asparagus in garlic oyster sauce. Multi-seafood stir-fries are also popular, as are curries like hang ped and panang, which come with a choice of key ingredient, which could be calamari, scallops, tofu, or oyster mushrooms.