>After a dismal experience at Brasserie Pascal, I was extremely irritated that I had wasted valuable stomach space on terrible food. My friends Mahesh and Holly (Savored) decided that our evening wasn’t going to just end like this, that we were not going home unsatisfied and highly irked at the possibility of our evening not finishing on a high note.
We decided to go to Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, another choice on our Happy Hour Week list and immediately made our way from Newport to Costa Mesa. When we arrived, the restaurant was really quiet and we pondered whether or not they were still serving, but the bartender (who’s name I later found out was Perry), ushered us in and gave us the run of the sofa-ed area or the bar — whatever our hearts desired. We chose the corner and settled in.
|Prince Edward mussels|
I quickly ordered a glass of Riesling because the pomegranate champagne cocktail from earlier really didn’t do it for me. I also wanted to swiftly forget the nasty food I had just consumed and what better way than to ply myself with alcohol. Perry brought me a glass of Graff Riesling, a sweet seductive wine I fell in love with upon first sip. Mahesh and Holly ended up getting a glass each of the same thing.
The menu was simple and since we weren’t exactly empty-stomached, we selected three items off the menu: Prince Edward mussels, Prosciutto with mission figs, Humbolt Fog goat cheese and basa vinegar, and a grilled octopus salad.
|prosciutto fig goat cheese and basa vinegar|
The food arrived quickly and as soon as it hit our table the three of us pulled out our cameras and started taking photos. A couple was sitting on the other side of the sofas and we soon learned that he was Patina Group’s General Manager Johannes Masserer. He graciously offered us his table where the lighting was much more generous so we could capture the dishes as eloquently as possible. He soon started asking us questions about the photos, which blogs we wrote for…… and before you know it, Mr Masserer had brought Executive Chef Ross Pangilinan out to our table.
By now we had been eating the Prince Edward mussels and were oooo-ing and ahhh-ing over how sublime and subtle the lobster coconut broth was, and the most surprising thing of all for me was that I was indulging in these mussels. I’m not a mussel fan finding them generally overcooked and either rubbery or mushy in texture. Chef Pangilinan masterfully steamed these mussels to such perfection that my friend Mahesh exclaimed that it tasted as if each mussel was steamed on its own with such meticulous accuracy that each morsel was as delicate and divine as the last.
While we were enjoying the mussels, Chef Pangilinan brought out a plate of foie gras torchon for us to try on the house. The presentation alone blew me away and naturally, we spent a great deal of time photographing this eye-popping creation before digging in. Needless to say, this had me at first bite. At that point, my heart belonged to the dish. I would’ve been happy had my evening ended there. The foie gras was creamy orgasmic perfection accompanied by an assortment of berries and a raspberry quenelle.
|le piece de resistance|
The toasted brioche went rather well with the foie gras and when that was finished, I had no problem slathering the remainder with the bread from the bread basket. This was positively what I live for. Sometimes, it is hard to explain to people why I love food so much, why I have so much passion for it, and then I put something like this foie gras torchon in my mouth and no explanation is needed. I feel like if I could just give someone something like this to eat it will speak for itself. No words are necessary.
The octopus salad and the prosciutto were both really good but I think, after the torchon, nothing else mattered. Nothing could have topped that. It was was on my mind so much that I returned the following evening with a few other friends and revisited the foie gras torchon and the Prince Edward mussels. We also ordered the cheese plate — definitely get this if you love cheese — with honeycomb and quince paste, absolutely heavenly!
I am definitely in love with this place. By the end of the evening Perry, Chad, Chase, the staff who stayed at the bar to keep us company were on first name basis with us.
For some reason, the name Leatherby’s conjured an image of a dark steak house with plush red velvet booths, but fear not, the Cafe Rouge part stays true to its title. The restaurant is definitely trendy and tres chic. A huge crowd gathers before performances at the Performance Art Center for pre-show dinners, so it works out perfectly for me. When those people flock to the show, I’m there, and I have the place all to myself to enjoy the sexy drinks and tantalizing food which has not only captured my heart, but those of my foodie friends as well.