Last week, I gushed over the opening of Whole Foods Newport Beach. The Tustin location sports a wine bar, so how to up the ante but to put a gastropub inside the newest Whole Foods Market in Newport Beach.
Back Bay Tavern seats 150 with a rotating selection of craft beers on tap, plus wine and spirits as well as a full menu. My table started with some beers including Stone IPA, North Coast Brewing Company’s Old Rasputin Imperial Stout — my fave — and two others I don’t quite remember now.
To pair with the beers, we ordered a bunch of things off the menu. An Artisanal Cheese Board ($10) features seasonal cheeses and changes often.
Local Brew Battered Fish and Chips ($11) uses very fresh fish dipped in beer batter and fried golden. The batter itself still needs a little tweaking but I hope it will get to the perfect consistency when I visit next.
I was pleasantly surprised by Veggie Plate ($7), seasonal vegetables coated with a tempura batter and fried to perfection. Several dipping sauces are available and I highly suggest the soy-based one. It is the ideal complement to the delicious crispy morsels and a cold brew.
The restaurant has a Tavern After Dark Menu only available after 5pm. Cabernet Braised Short Ribs ($23) was definitely one of the highlights with sweet corn polenta cake, smoked poblano puree, local seasonal vegetables, Cabernet pan jus and tomato confit. The flavors were complex and the meat tender.
I’m not normally a fan of salmon, but Gingered Atlantic Salmon ($25) was really good. Pan seared Atlantic salmon is topped with salmon roe, something which added so much flavor to the moist, flaky fish. Accoutrements include scarlet beet puree, local radish, frisee and green salad, with sacha inchi — a perennial plant from the Amazon rainforest — vinaigrette.
Panko Crusted Eggplant “Parmesan “Fondue” ($18) is a tasty vegan option. White truffle laced crisp eggplant with tomato confit, basil pesto and cashew parmesan “cheese” comes together in a delectable mouthful. It is definitely crispy with nice textures and the flavors are amazing!
However, the star of the night was Wasabi Pepper Seared Scallops ($25). Large, plump scallops are cooked to perfection and oh so succulent. Served with a full flavored forest mushrooms and asparagus saute and topped with micro Asian greens.
Visit specifically for Back Bay Tavern or just pop in for a quick drink when you’re shopping. If you’re hungry, order something to munch on. This is one of the most innovative concepts by Whole Foods yet, and I’m so happy it is so close to me!
This week, I have another $50 gift card for one lucky winner to win. Leave me a comment with your FULL name and tell me what your favorite beer is! You have until Sunday to enter. Good Luck!
Back Bay Tavern
at Whole Foods Market
415 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660