Local Chefs Share Their Favorite Dining Hideaways
Let’s face it. 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 us….
Chef Paul Gstrein~ Bayside Restaurant in Newport Beach
“When I am not at Bayside, I gravitate to Middle-Eastern cuisine, and that means my friend Ali at The Port Restaurant located in Corona del Mar. It is a family run business, and the food is incredible. One of my favorite dishes to order is the M&M Combo. This is a combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and is the perfect sampler. This appetizer includes: Hummus, Eggplant Dip (which we call Babaganoush which means “pampered Papa”) as well as Tzatziki (which is strained yogurt with cucumbers, garlic, pepper and squeeze of lemon), Shirazi (a selection of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and mint), and these four are served with warm Greek Pita Wedges. It is delicious and authentic Middle Eastern fare. My second favorite is the entrée selection of Chicken Breast Kabob served with Basmati Rice.”
Meet Paul Gstrein who is the Executive Chef of Bayside Restaurant. This is a wonderful restaurant with various dining options—from the elegant dining room to an outdoor patio with a peek-a-boo view of the water. The food is delicious—from seafood, to steaks, the best Ahi Tuna Tartare, and my personal favorite is the Pan Roasted Jumbo Tiger Prawns with snap pea Risotto. The bar and lounge is our “go-to” spot for Happy Hour, with creative cocktails, small plates, exceptional bartenders and music most evenings. Their Sunday Champagne brunch is very popular and a place where our family celebrates many events. This is a gem of a spot and even has a rotating art collection!
Chef Jason Mazur ~ Bluewater Grill Restaurant in Newport Beach
“A favorite breakfast joint for me is Eat Chow. I usually order the Breakfast Sandwich or the Chow Benedict. I have to rotate because I enjoy both. However I can’t have breakfast without a good cup of Joe and my “go to” neighborhood coffee house is Kean Coffee. They have great coffee, a cool artsy vibe and it’s close to my home.
As biased as it sounds, for lunch, I love our sustainably harvested fish tacos, and our Miso Glazed Halibut at Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach.
As for dinner, I’ve recently eaten at Juliette Kitchen + Bar and enjoyed it greatly. I really enjoy wine, cheese and charcuterie. Chef Daniel Hyatt invents solid dishes with really good ingredients. I have two places in mind for an evening drink. I enjoy Crow Burger Kitchen on the Balboa Peninsula. They’ve got good food and even a better beer selection. The other would be Sidedoor in Corona del Mar. They offer a nice selection of wine and beer, plus cheese and charcuterie which they prepare right there. It is a unique experience and I tend to seek those out.”
Chef Jason Mazur oversees operations and menus for all of the Bluewater Grill locations, and is the Corporate & Executive Chef. They have restaurants in: Redondo Beach, Tustin, Newport Beach and most recently in Avalon on Catalina Island. The Newport Beach location is my favorite, and is just a classic spot on the water. The wooden planks leading to the restaurant, and the big picture windows overlooking the boats, instantly remind me of New England. The seafood is exceptional and throughout the year they have special dining events based on the arrival of the freshest seasonal fare.
Yvon Goetz ~ The Winery in Newport Beach
“One of my favorite lunch spots is Provenance. The Owner Chef Cathy Pavlos, is a friend of mine. If I am looking for a nice, relaxed lunch, I head up to her restaurant for a lovely glass of wine and a light bite. I can sit out in the garden or at the bar and enjoy a sandwich or greens clipped from her on-site garden. And since The Winery Newport Beach isn’t open for lunch, I can easily promote this spot! For a late-night drink, I pop into SOL Cocina. Sometimes I just need tequila after a long night in the kitchen! SOL has a great selection and a fun crowd. It is conveniently close to The Winery, so I don’t have to travel far for a drink and a couple of delicious street tacos.”
Yvon Goetz is Executive Chef and Partner of The Winery
The Winery enjoys two locations, in Tustin, and the latest addition is on the waterfront in Newport Beach. The former Villa Nova has been transformed into this lovely, modern, two-story restaurant and bar, featuring a balcony overlooking the marina (my favorite spot), two private dining rooms upstairs, an extensive wine collection, elegant bar with mood lighting in the bar itself, and an elegant dining room with views to die for. The food is wonderful and covers all the bases—from lamb chops, to exceptional seafood, steaks, and salads. It is hard to decide when they hand me the menu!
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Photo Featured on slide: The Port Restaurant’s M&M Combo starter