Marche Moderne (Costa Mesa, CA)

Marche Moderne
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Dining date: 3/30/14

exterior

After having dinner at Studio the previous night during a quick weekend trip, Marche Moderne was our choice for lunch on the way back from LA. Known for its upscale French bistro food in South Coast Plaza (which really takes mall food up a few notches), the restaurant offers a notable three-course daily lunch menu for $25.

Marche Moderne offers all the items one expects from a French bistro from cheese & charcuterie to a large selection steeped in French classics to some modernized, Californian dishes. The prix-fixe for lunch offers a soup or salad, a plated meat or fish main course and a small dessert. Between two people, it’s possible to sample all of the options on the prix-fixe menu…which is what we did.

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Faith & Flower (Los Angeles, CA)

Faith & Flower
705 W 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 4/3/14

exterior

Faith & Flower is one of the bigger downtown restaurant openings lately, brought to us by a powerful partnership between Coastal Luxury Management (Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Los Angeles Food & Wine) and Stephane Bombet (Picca). It’s the first LA restaurant opening for the high-profile CLM team and Bombet’s first since his partnership with Ricardo Zarate.

interior

The restaurant space, formerly Towne Food & Drink, is large and quite nice. Located near LA Live, it has a luxurious-feeling interior, though still feels comfortable for someone having a casual meal out. The restaurant partners brought in chef Michael Hung to execute the menu, who comes with a San Francisco-based fine dining pedigree (Jardinere, La Folie). The food is more approachable than his background may suggest; it could be classified as modern American and I found a lot of Asian flair throughout his food. Between our party of three, we sampled our way through a good portion of the menu, picking out a number of vegetarian-friendly items for our vegetarian friend.

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Corazon y Miel (Bell, CA)

Corazon y Miel
6626 Atlantic Ave
Bell, CA 90201
Dining date: 4/5/14

exterior

Corazon y Miel opened just about a year ago and has been well-received in its short life. Located about 10 miles southeast of downtown in Bell, California, it’s not exactly in a part of town I think about for dining destinations. But chef Eduardo Ruiz is crafting modernized interpretations of Latin cuisine that has the whole city (and more) taking notice. Mentioned in a number of best new restaurant lists, Ruiz was recently named a semifinalist for the 2014 “Rising Star Chef of the Year” James Beard Award.

interior

The restaurant’s menu is broken up into small and large plates, many meant to be paired with drinks. A full bar, including a unique cocktail list and a carefully crafted beer list, is available. We picked a handful of both small and large plates to share for this dinner.

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Studio (Laguna Beach, CA)

Studio
30801 Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Dining date: 3/29/14

studio laguna beach

I’ve known about Studio for a while and always figured it to be a good option if I was ever in need of a nicer restaurant in the southern part of Orange County. Just recently I found myself on a weekend trip to OC and decided it was time to try it. The restaurant is located on the Montage Laguna Beach property (which is beautiful, I might add), right on the edge of the resort by the water. I’d recommend a pre- or post-dinner walk to take it all in, including the garden where the restaurant grows much of its own produce and herbs.

studio laguna beach

studio garden

The chef here is Craig Strong, who came to Studio four years ago after helming the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton/Langham Pasadena (and was replaced by one Michael Voltaggio). Strong’s modern Californian/French cooking is available in a six-course tasting menu ($125), but we elected to do a la carte on this evening.

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Scratch Bar (Los Angeles, CA)

Scratch Bar
111 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Dining date: 3/15/14

scratch bar signage

Scratch Bar opened almost a year ago, a relatively young entrant to La Cienega’s Restaurant Row. The menu, created by chef Phillip Frankland Lee, has been described as modern American yet in a fun and whimsical manner. Something a bit different.

An a la carte menu is offered as well as a few different tasting menus (all the way up to a 14 course at the chef’s counter). We went somewhere in the middle with a 9 course tasting priced at $85pp, adding on a supplemental dish.

interior

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Chi Spacca (Los Angeles, CA)

Chi Spacca
6610 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 3/14/14

chi spacca

Chi Spacca opened last year and is the latest restaurant to join the Mozza corner at Melrose & Highland. It replaced the Scuola di Pizza, yet in a way is a permanent extension of the restaurant. Chad Colby, who used to helm the Scuola kitchen, is also managing the Chi Spacca menu. The restaurant’s probably best known for its house salumi program and catering to a primal way of eating – large slabs of meat cooked over fire. Think 36 ounce veal racks and 42 ounce tomahawk pork chops and beef porterhouses. My kind of place.

I’ve been wanting to try Chi Spacca for some time, but it really felt like a place to try with a large group. We rounded up five for this evening and came hungry. A holdover from the Scuola di Pizza, a completely open kitchen offers visibility into all of the cooking being done between the large steaks on the grill and items coming out of the wood-burning oven.

open kitchen3

open kitchen2

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