It is always interesting to me that outside of Asia, people rarely eat in hotel restaurants. I’m not quite sure why this hasn’t taken off in the US, but I can assure you, some of the restaurants within restaurants offer up some of the best menus you’ll find.
I don’t have to remind anyone how much I love going to EATS Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Irvine. Now, I’m going to tell you about Citrus (formerly Bambu) at The Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach.
We arrive a little before lunch time, so we are able to enjoy a few things off the breakfast menu and then embark onto the lunch menu. My friend has her kids with her so our biggest challenge is to get the grumpy toddler to sit and behave. It doesn’t take long because after ordering a couple of things, the staff are out with several things to keep him interested and entertained.
The first thing is fruit off the kid’s menu, thin strips of watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe and melon. I love that they are small enough for little fingers to maneuver and there is also a little ramekin of strawberry puree for them to dip the fruit strips in.
While he is entertained, we begin by sipping on Watermelon Mint Juice ($6), beautifully refreshing and a nice change to the ubiquitous OJ everyone gravitates towards.
An array of pastries ($3 each) arrive with butter and house-made jam in glass jars presented on a wooden case. They are flaky and delicious. There is a regular croissant, a pan au chocolat, and an almond croissant. The jam is filled with chunks of peach and not overly sweet.
At the same time, Chef sends out a sampling of the Seasonal Berry Breakfast Parfait (normally $10) of Greek yogurt, accompanied by the loveliest of house-made Granola Bar. It is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten and I’m sure the little boy thinks so too. He is eating comprises 10 different types of nuts, honey, peanut butter, brown sugar, corn flakes and Special K. He smiles as I give him another chunk.
We choose California Avocado Frittata ($16) while we wait for the lunch menu to switch over. This generous portion is enough for two to share. Eggs are topped with potato hash, beautiful yellow and red tomato slices, avocado, and oven roasted tomato crisps. A gravy boat of basil Hollandaise is served on the side. We love the flavors, however, there is a lot of potatoes which could have been crispier as well.
As we move into lunch, the dining room starts filling up. We choose lunch items off the menu. Avocado BLT ($15) is a sandwich of focaccia stuffed with honey peppered speck ham, heirloom tomatoes, organic baby lettuce and avocado. Three onion rings accompany. I love the sandwich. The speck ham is crispy, textured like bacon, and the filling to bread ratio is fantastic.
However, it is the Steamed Mahi Mahi ($24) which blows me away. It reminds me so much of Chinese steamed fish, especially in flavor. A thick piece of fish sits on top of baby bok choy and sticky rice. Shiitake mushrooms and scallion is arranged above the fish and the whole thing is drizzled with a sesame and cilantro ginger soy. The aroma is incredible and evokes fond childhood memories. What I would have liked though is a little more soy in the mix. I am surprised that when I warmed up the remainder in the microwave the following day, the fish remains tender and absolutely lovely. This is a dish I want to return for again!
There is complimentary valet parking at the hotel. Grab a ticket and have it validated at Citrus. It is a comfortable place for breakfast and lunch, especially for a group of ladies who might have differing tastes. There is something for everyone here.
Citrus at The Fairmont Hotel
4500 MacArthur Blvd
Newport Beach, CA 92660