Sunday, March 15, 2009

After a HELLISH experience at Nirvana Grille, both my Mom and I were angry and annoyed. What to do for food? I had told her originally that we should go to The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar for their OC Happy Hour Week special, which they have normally for Happy Hour too. The food looked interesting and I wanted to try them out, but nooo... My Mom was lazy and wanted to go somewhere local, which turned into a completely ridiculous situation. Basically the server decided to step in and say that there MIGHT be a no photo policy that she is not sure of. A whole argument ensued and it was just completely preposterous. If she was a smart server, she would have just kept her mouth shut or say something if she was sure. A similar situation almost happened at Yard House with Ms. Lin but the server there was much smarter and just told us not to take photos in front of her. I have taken so many photos in Yard House that it can't be a rule, but good thing she just blew past it. Nonetheless, we were super upset and fed up with the imbecilic conversation that we just got up and left. So what to do next? I was yelling at my Mom for making me return to such a place and we kept arguing on where to go. She told me to just go to the place I had originally planned to check out that day. We could have solved this whole problem if she just listened to me from the beginning! lol Since their Happy Hour ends at 6PM, I had to haul butt to get there but I made it. In comparison, this place saved the night and service was much better! It's Nirvana Grille's loss because I ended up spending close to $100 for Happy Hour and tipped them very well for changing the mood.
To start off the night, I decided that I needed a drink from the whole day's ordeal and I promised to try out some of the Happy Hour drinks. They had a list of Maritinis featuring Boru Vodka all for $6.95. I chose the Mangolicious with Mango Purée, Sweet & Sour, and 7-Up. The alcohol flavor was light and it went down smoothly. I am not a big fan of alcohol so it was a good light balance.
Needless to say that after the whole ordeal I was upset and starving since I waited so long for some good food. I arrived only shortly before the Happy Hour was going to end so I had to order everything on the menu! lol Being hungry and in a bad mood is not a good mix. I was anxiously awaiting the food to come so I can order a second round and got too greedy about doubling up. It didn't help that my Mom was greedier and I had to stop her too. lol Lets start off with their delicious YG's Alsation "Pizza" with Creme Fraiche, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Gruyere, and Onions on a Flat Bread. This dish was extremely aromatic and tantalizing. Even the left overs the next day made me drool. It might not be the best thing in the world but it was definitely solid. Keep in mind that I was dying of starvation at this point too. lol After reading all the low reviews about this place, I was surprised that they made this delightful snack. It was still delicious the next day. I would definitely come back just for this. This "pizza" was much much better than anything they served me at Pizzeria Ortica. **review coming soon!**
What really made me want to try out this place was when I saw they had an appetizer called Crispy Lobster Red-Wine Risotto Lollipop's with Black Truffle Sauce. First off, they had me at Black Truffles and then lobster... Mmmm lol There really wasn't any Lobster hidden amongst the Risotto but this dish was very fragrant. You can definitely smell the Black Truffles. I loved the presentation and idea. The "lollipops" are lightly coated to add that crisp texture. They fell a little short in execution but I still liked it enough to order another set before the time ran out! lol Being hungry, in a rush, and greedy was not a good combo.
The first dish to come out was the Seared Rare Ahi Tuna that was very nicely presented. It's made with Avocado, Mango, a Cucumber Tower, and a Cilantro-Orange Vinaigrette. This dish was very nicely presented and very eye-catching. I really liked how they are served in perfect bite-sized spoons. The tangy citrus helped bring out the sweetness of the fish. At first I really questioned why we would order another set, but it's actually not a bad deal ($6.95) for Happy Hour. The ingredients work well with one another and is light on the palate.
Another item that caught my eye on the internet for Happy Hour was the Hot Sun-dried Tomato-Arugula Fondue with Goat Cheese, Parmesan, and Grilled Baguettes. This dish comes out piping hot, so be careful that you don't touch the pan or you will get burned. The melted cheese on top looked so inviting because of the top crispy layer. If you love cheese then this is the dish for you. The fondue was packed full of flavor and had a spicy kick to it. We were very greedy and order 2 of this dish as well when we couldn't even finish the first order! lol Be sure to eat this before it starts cooling off and becomes to congealed and the oil starts to separate. I enjoyed the sliced toasted baguettes to add more bite/texture to the fondue. If you love melted cheese then this is definitely the appetizer for you.
Luckily I waited on doubling up my order by trying each dish because the Trio of Beef Sliders were not anything special. They are served with sautéed Mushrooms and melted Brie. The portion was not bad but I felt that this dish lacked any flavor. Nothing popped out for me and I had to steal sauces from other appetizers to wash it down. It's not that the sliders weren't cooked nicely, it was just dry in taste. I probably should have asked for some Ranch to add more flavor.
To my surprise they offered a Domestic and Imported Artisanal Cheeses with Seasonal Accompaniments and Walnut Bread as part of Happy Hour. If you know me, I love cheeses so how could I resist. They offered a Blue Cheese, a Goat Cheese covered with bits of Pistachio, and a type of Brie. The accompaniments were thin sticks of Green Apple, Honey with a Raspberry, Vinegar Reduction, Candied Walnuts, and Grapes. I asked if they had honeycombs but sadly they don't. At least there was honey on the plate to compliment the blue cheese. I didn't really care for the bread because I feel it takes a little away from the cheese. My preference is a simple French bread or baguette so that no flavors are trying to compete with the cheese. I guess I am just a purist. The cheeses were actually pretty good even if they weren't anything special. I had fun playing around with all the elements to find the right combinations of flavors. O=)
All in all I had a good time for Happy Hour here. After the foul experience earlier, this place really shined in service and the food was better than what I thought it would be. They might not be the best dishes in the world but it's a good deal for Happy Hour. Every appetizer and even drink above were all $6.95. I have been thinking about returning here just so I can get that yummy "Pizza" again. It's even good the next day when you reheat it in the oven! Everything else was just okay to be honest. Still, the ambiance and service made it all a good experience.

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
2647 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782
(714) 258-7600
The Winery on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Looks like you had a pretty nice dinner here. I like the tuna presentation.

Kat said...

I thought this was definitely one of the better Happy Hours I went to those weeks. I often think about returning for more. ^_^

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