new menu, old charm at Five Crowns

The Hungry Dogg and I recently visited the newly renovated Five Crowns in Corona del Mar for dinner. We arrived early so grabbed a drink at SideDoor before heading over.

As I walked through the dining room, I was trying hard to figure out what exactly had been done here. It looked the same but different. It had the same English charm but seemed brighter. We were shown to our nook and were able to pull back the blinds to take advantage of the remaining natural light which was slowly dissipating.

A bread basket of sourdough rolls and this darker bread was brought to the table. I detected molasses in the dark bread with a hint of sweetness, perfect with a slathering of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt which accompanied.

We started with a cocktail for Austin: Salty Dog ($12), consisting of Broker’s gin, Aperol, lemon basil, grapefruit bitters, ruby red grapefruit juice and served on the rocks, while I chose a Bautista Simona Malbec from Mendoza ($10). His cocktail was definitely a lot prettier than mine that’s for sure.

Our meal began with White Corn Chowder ($13), a cream-less chowder with mini cubes of potato, dungeness crab and a drizzle of lemon verbena. I enjoyed the chowder but was disappointed that the corn was so subtle that I wasn’t able to detect it at all.

I’m a big fan of steak tartare and I know Austin is too so Grassfed Steak Tartar ($17) with classic accompaniments was a must-order. The tartare arrives with a quail egg yolk and diced red onions on top and ramekins of cornichons, mustard and fried capers were available if you want to add them to your tartare.

The tartare on its own was under-seasoned but a schmear of mustard on the crisped bread slice, a dollop of tartare and a few fried capers made a perfectly flavored mouthful. Lightly frying the capers was a genius idea! It intensified its taste and gave it that salty-tart flavor I so love.

The two types of Heirloom Tomatoes ($14) slices were succulent and so lusciously flavorful I could’ve just eaten them on their own. I like the idea of the crispy burrata cheese more than its actual execution because the panko crust — though so thin and crunchy — took away from the natural delicate flavor of the burrata. Served with a lemon basil pesto, the dish was delightful, but like I said, burrata stands quite firmly on its own without additions even though the textural contrast was nice.

The restaurant is known for its Roasted Prime Ribs of Beef and there are four ways to enjoy it. We chose the Five Crowns ($33) the traditional cut served since 1965 when the restaurant first opened.

I loved the au jus served in a little dispenser, along with Yorkshire pudding, vital to any good beef dish. Whipped organic horseradish and fresh horseradish were served alongside and I had to ask for more of the latter because it went so well with the tender, pink meat.

I chose creamed spinach as my side although mashed potatoes or creamed corn were also available.

Sticheddar Mac ‘n Cheese ($7) was screaming out at us so we ordered a side, which, incidentally turned out to be a fantastic move. It was quite lovely even though I would’ve loved more Stilton in it — yep, I’m all for the smelly cheeses!

When the time came to end our meal with a sweet treat, those of you who know me know where my mind was — wandering off into outer space! I’m just not THAT into desserts, so when the option of ordering a Cheese Platter ($21/5 cheeses) came up, I was all for it!

Kunik, Nettle Meadow Farm (NY), Abbaye de Belloc (France), Soledad, Mojave (California), Chabrin, Onetik (France), Pena Azul, Asturias (Spain) were the ones selected and memory does not serve me correctly right now, but the one in the center was my favorite followed by the Pena Azul — the blue cheese from Spain.

One dessert was ordered purely because I really like crisps and there was one staring at me begging me to order it. Peach & Blueberry Crisp ($9) arrived scorching hot with a scoop of blackberry cream gelato on top.

This is my kind of dessert — not too sweet, with some tartness, texturally complex with everything in one mouthful, and of course, the hot and the cold together. I would’ve liked a little more of the “crisp” because I had eaten all of it before we had finished the peach and blueberry compote underneath.

By the time we’d finish our meal, the dining room was empty except for the boisterous threesome sitting across the room speaking loudly in Cantonese. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation. I was hugely satisfied with our meal, the company and most of all, the visit from Chef de Cuisine Bryon who stopped by to have a quick chat with us.

Five Crowns
3801 E Coast Hwy
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
Tel: 949-760-0331

Five Crowns on Urbanspoon

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