Ordinarily, I am a firm believer that one should try out restaurant week menus whenever possible to get a glimpse of what the individual restaurants has to offer diners. When my friend and I looked at the restaurant week menu from South Coast Winery Restaurant, it was quite tantalizing especially the lobster bisque as a starter.
The restaurant was relatively empty when we got there so I asked for a table with better lighting in order to capture some good photos. We were shown to a booth and our server was swift in bringing us water. We were also quick to order seeing the choices were relatively straightforward.
Both of us decided to go for the lobster bisque seeing the other option was a salad which sounded uninspiring. For $15, the selection looked decent — an appetizer and an entree, no dessert, which was fine by me seeing I’m not big on sweets anyway.
A bread basket of two crusty rolls were brought to the table. They were average rolls, neither good nor bad. Lobster bisque arrived….. it wasn’t piping hot, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to hot soups and on top of that it was absolutely terrible! It was way too salty and to make things worse, it was super fishy as well. I think this lobster bisque is in my list of bottom five I’ve tasted to date! We had two spoonfuls, maybe three, and couldn’t stomach much more. When our server came back and asked how it was, I said “it’s too salty”. He was sweet enough to offer us a new one, but it takes a long time to create lobster bisque so in my mind, I knew it was more from the same pot so what’s the point really? We declined.
The entree selections were hangar steak frites or grilled salmon. The hangar steak came with the fries of course (frites!) and some aioli and ketchup in ramekins while the grilled salmon was served on a bed of quinoa, asparagus stems and cherry tomato halves.
The steak started off okay, it wasn’t seasoned enough and I tasted the salt on the table — it was iodized salt and I wasn’t going to put that on my steak, so I fished out my salt dispenser from my purse and ground some sea salt onto the steak. It definitely was better than what was originally presented to us. However, as I got farther down, the steak started to tasted off with an increasingly strong bloody aftertaste. I gagged at one point and had to spit it out. Definitely not a good idea to ask for steak medium rare when it is not a top quality piece of meat. I think the reason why it tasted off the farther we got was because the meat was rarer on that end.
Salmon wasn’t much better. I knew it was overcooked the minute I pierced my fork into it. The fish was dry and tasteless. The accompanying quinoa was seasoned inconsistently with one side overly salty and the other side with no salt at all. My friend and I were both saying how we could’ve done a better job at home, sad really!
For $15, I still don’t feel this was a good deal because it wasn’t enjoyable at all. Sure it sounds good on paper, but at the end of the day, the execution and what was presented was far from ideal. A meal can be reasonable, cheap even, but when you don’t enjoy it, or you can’t eat it, then really, what’s the point?
South Coast Winery Restaurant, 3608 S Bristol Street, Santa Ana, CA 92704. Tel: 714-957-1857