Lark Creek opened its doors at Fashion Island to great reception. I’ve visited several times now to get a better feel of the menu, as well as the general aspect of the place and each time have found it to be packed and bustling with diners. The concept is one restaurants are all gravitating towards: going back to basics and using the freshest, most natural ingredients to create seasonal dishes suited to a majority of palates. Pair that with attentive staff and voila, an all-around good time.
If you like cocktails there are many to choose from and at dinner time I’ve been known to indulge in one or two… or three. If you don’t see anything you like on the menu, tell your server to relay your taste preferences to the bartender and one will be created for you. As usual, I prefer anything with tequila or mezcal…..
Moving on to food…… every time I’ve been here, White Shrimp Ceviche ($14) has made an appearance. I think it is because I just love how the avocado is mixed in with the toy box tomato, cilantro, habanero and lime. I generally prefer more lime in mine, so if you do too, let them know when you order. It isn’t technically ceviche since the shrimp is not raw and the dressing isn’t just lime juice, but it is very enjoyable all the same, and judging from my track record, I probably will order it again.
Puree of Corn Soup ($7/$9.50) is absolutely delicious especially right now while corn is still in season. The creamy smooth texture is really enticing and the bits of charred baby corn and bacon lardon add a smokey finish to the sweetness.
At dinner, you get an extra special touch when they pour this tableside.
We were all intrigued by the Watermelon Carpaccio ($11) but I don’t think any of us were prepared for the oxymoron of this dish. It is simple yet complex! A thin slice of watermelon is vacuum packed in a marinade of Piment d’Esplette — a chili pepper cultivated in France but originally from Mexico — and aged balsamic vinegar. The watermelon is topped with dots of Valbreso feta, daikon (radish) sprouts and basil. It was subtle yet sublime — a definite winner!
The Baby Kale and Quinoa Salad ($11) packed a nice contrasting punch with sunflower seeds, roasted plum in a white balsamic vinaigrette. The baby kale was rather tender and the quinoa beautifully al dente, every mouthful filled with delectable contrasting textures.
The Cowboy Burger ($15.50) was so tasty one of the kids almost devoured the entire thing on his own. A juicy patty is topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, onion rings and house BBQ sauce, between a bun from OC Baking Company. I’m not a fan of BBQ sauce, but this wasn’t overly sweet and worked well with all the components.
If you’re not looking for a meaty burger, then the Ahi Tuna Burger ($16.50) might just be your choice. I normally don’t like cooked ahi tuna, but was impressed at how well the final product arrived. The perfect amount of seasonings brought out the natural taste of the ahi without overpowering, while pickled onions added a touch of acid. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a shaved fennel salad with mizuna as a side rather than just a boring green salad.
Torn Pasta “Handkerchiefs” ($15) was our least favorite and rather disappointing. The pasta was overcooked and the simple tomato sauce too watery.
If you’re looking for a fish dish, the Idaho Rainbow Trout ($19) is just as good as any. The hazelnut-caper brown butter is nutty in both flavor and texture while the shaved zucchini salad is light and summer-y.
One of our favorites was Petite “Steak Frites” ($19), a USDA prime flat iron steak cooked to your liking. Even though the person who ordered it requested medium well, the steak arrived tender and moist — a surprising feat — and the Bearnaise sauce had a good consistency and was not at all cloying. The hand-cut garlic and herb fries were to-die-for and I’m going to see if they would substitute this on other dishes the next time I visit.
I’ve tried several desserts, but only like a few, one of which is Lemon Meringue Pie ($5) topped with a blueberry compote. It is smooth and tart with the compote adding freshness to the end product.
Apple Blackberry Crisp ($8) possessed a tart fruity filling with a crunchy oat streusel topping complete with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The cold, the hot, the crunchy, the soft, all made for an explosion in my mouth.
Lark Creek is great for lunch or dinner regardless whether you’re looking for something casual, or a little more formal. They have a private room in the back should you want to put together a small celebratory party of some sort. The restaurant is located by the movie theaters on the Nordstrom side.
957 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660