Last week, my BFF and I attend a performance of Phantom of the Opera at Segerstrom Center of the Arts and eat at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge beforehand. It is her first time here so I want her to try as many things across the board. The prix fixe theater menu (3 courses/$45) is always the hit, but the a la carte menu is stunning as well.
After much deliberation, we begin with Heirloom Tomatoes ($12) which is presented on a slab of Himalayan salt. The tomatoes are seasoned by its brush with the salt slab, and there are four different toppings you can enjoy the luscious slices with. There is creamy burrata, olive tapenade, avocado and roasted pepper. Thinly sliced crostini add an element of crunch to the mix.
I have never seen Thai Lobster Bisque ($18) on the menu before, hence am intrigued. The airy soup is infused with lemongrass, a touch of coconut milk, sweet chunks of lobster, and served with a spring roll of crisp vegetable and herbs. Chef Ross Pangilinan is always a maestro when it comes to a crescendo of flavors and textures.
The Market Fish ($32) option is John Dory tonight. Flaky but firm fish possesses a perfect sear accompanied by carrots, cauliflower, fennel and lentils. The vadouvan lends hints of curry, while sauce vierge adds a touch of brightness to the dish.
Moving on, the theater menu offers three courses with two choices to select from. First course includes The Phantom, an absolutely delightful starter. It is a play on sushi with rice topped with lightly cured cobia and a paper thin slice of pickled daikon. I love the citrus in this dish, but I know it is the nori which brings everything together. The flavors dance in my mouth offering comfort and familiarity which always make me crave for more. It is perfection on a plate.
The two entree selections are also stellar. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again is tender CAB hanger steak prepared to the temperature of your choice. The meat sits atop light-as-air potato espuma, topped with asparagus and crispy shallots. The Bearnaise is exceptionally light and never overpowers the plate, but it is the robust jus that I want more of.
Vegetarians will enjoy Magical Lasso, a housemade fettucine tossed in a kale pesto with market vegetables such as fresh peas, zucchini, summer squash and carrots.
To finish, the aptly named Opera is a modernized version of the traditional Opera cake. The coffee flavored cake is topped with chocolate pearls and almonds — a tad too sweet for me, but my BFF gladly ravished its entirety.
Phantom of the Opera runs until August 16th.
Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge
615 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626