All the buzz about the newly opened Ways and Means was the reason why Austin and I ended up here for dinner. I was amazed at the transformation, of what they’ve done to the old Spiro’s where I had breakfast all those years ago. The decor exudes charm and class, yet, the feeling is very casual. The juxtaposition of the two makes it the perfect spot for celebrations as well as an impromptu meal out when you don’t feel like cooking.
The menu is seafood-heavy, but it doesn’t mean meat lovers are left out — quite the contrary. There is definitely something for everyone, both young and old alike.
The restaurant offers an 8-course tasting menu for a mere $75. After listening to the choices, I was interested, however, my allergy to oysters prohibited me from participating in at least two of the courses. Ordinarily, the entire party has to order the tasting menu, but after much persuasion, they made an exception for me to order a la carte while Austin went with the tasting — you won’t be able to do this unfortunately but you can always ask.
After you’ve placed your order, a beautifully lavish platter of breads is presented with a mound of Irish butter to slather your choices with. I was immediately enamored with the Guinness bread, a rich, almost cake-like piece of slightly sweet deliciousness. I was trying SO hard not to eat too many carbs before my food arrived. The other standouts were the sundried tomato and also, the curry.
Call me excessive, but I can’t go to a restaurant and just order an appetizer, entree and dessert. What fun is that? I like to taste a variety of dishes to get a good feel of the menu, and if that means taking a bite or two and then pushing them to the side, then so be it. Usually, I’ll just tell the server to box things up as I go along. Therefore, it isn’t surprising when I order three appetizers to start off our meal — yes, I know Austin is eating an 8-course meal as well!
My review will present the dishes with its a la carte prices even though we may have had it as part of the prix fixe. I apologzie if any confusion arises from that.
Before anything else, an amuse bouche of quail egg filled with finely diced ahi tuna is presented to us.
Caesar Salad ($11) was on the recommendation of our server Stan. Baby cos lettuce was too overdressed for my liking, but I was blown away by the crab meat Scotch egg. So many restaurants are embracing the concept of serving Scotch eggs as an appetizer but few can really execute it correctly. I love the use of crab instead of ground meat, making this light and crispy but so packed with flavor!
I absolutely loved the Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs ($6) which had the most delicate egg whites ever. I’ve been experiencing very rubbery egg whites on deviled eggs lately and was so delighted by its perfection. Wild watercress and lemon oil are featured as well.
Salmon Rilettes ($12) was served outside of a jar — something a little different — with red onions, watercress and lemon aioli. A really generous portion which should definitely be shared.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Kataifi-style crabcakes ($14). I didn’t care for the minuscule shards the crab was shredded into in order for it to have the same texture as the kataifi phyllo (which is similar to shredded wheat). By doing so, I couldn’t really tell I was eating crab had it not been presented as such.
The Oyster Ceviche course I’m not able to provide you with any information apart from how lovely it looked!
Tuna Tartare ($14) comprised a tower seasoned with gherkin, caper and harissa, topped with a quail’s egg and served with whole wheat toast. The most amazing thing was the little boiled quail’s egg served alongside — it revealed a runny interior!
The Ravioli ($19) was decadent, stuffed with chunks of lobster, goat cheese and basil atop a basque-style stew of peppers. Since I don’t care for goat cheese, it wasn’t really my thing, but Austin loved it. I, on the other hand delighted in the stew of peppers which was so rich in flavors and decadent in aromas I couldn’t stop picking at it.
Bamboo Steamed Halibut ($36) is a little misleading because although there is a piece of halibut, the star of the plate was the cumin spiced Savoy cabbage with braised oxtail, baby leeks and red wine dressing peeking through from underneath. The oxtail was tender and oh-so-packed with flavor. I could have eaten an entire plate of it sans fish.
I’m a huge duck fan and Roasted Muskovy [sic] Duck Breast ($33) was prepared to perfection, nicely pink in the center. Served with butternut puree, puy lentils, sunny side up quail’s egg and an apple walnut salad, I loved the lentils and the sweetness of the butternut squash. The salad was a very refreshing palate cleanser after the richness of the duck.
If you’re a carnivore, then by all means order the Prime Rib Eye ($52), a hefty 16-ozer 40 days dry-aged CG2 (a unique drying process they’ve developed with the purveyor) — which they tell me does not include the weight of the bone — prepared to your liking. Ours was medium rare and served with bearnaise sauce, although Stan brought out some peppercorn sauce as well.
One of the sides was Lobster Mac n Cheese ($14), with a generous lobster claw laid on top.
Colcannon Creamy Mash ($5) is another side and is a must! Please do not omit this from your dinner. It is some of the best smooth mashed potatoes I’ve ever had, and I do not like mashed potatoes! Decadent and oh so sinfully good!
The tasting menu also included a cheese course as well as a dessert course. Cheeses included Laura Chenel chevre, Stilton and Port Salut, a semi-soft pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Pays de la Loire in France. The latter two are my dad’s favorite which means I am very familiar with them having eaten a lot in the past. The accompanying home made fig preserves paired exquisitely with the blue.
Our trio of desserts were the last course from the tasting menu, miniature sizes of the full sized portions ($8 each) seemed ideal for me regardless and it was a huge meal indeed if opting for the tasting menu.
Even though I’m not a fan of apples, the Granny Smith Apple Cobbler was very good. The crumble on top was the right texture to go with the apples underneath which had a lovely tart finish. The cinnamon creme fraiche ice cream was delicious as well.
My favorite was the Traditional Lemon Tart with sour cream and topped with a quinelle of blueberry sorbet and warm blueberries alongside. I love tart desserts and this was exquisite on my palate. Both the blueberries and lemon offered up a nice acidity for a great finish to a meal.
But that’s not to say Warm Valhrona Chocolate Cake wasn’t just as good. In fact, the sinfully rich dark chocolate is hard to resist. It was decadence in a cup so to speak and I would have eaten a lot more had I not been immensely full from everything we ate.
The tasting menu is so generous I could not have finished all 8 courses on my own. Even though the portions are smaller than its a la carte counterparts, it is still larger than just a mouthful and you will leave wishing you had worn stretch pants to this meal.
Ways and Means
513 E Chapman Avenue
Orange, CA 92866