Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Congratulations to Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar for winning the Best California Wine List Competition. I was able to join for one of the "Opening Nights", albeit a little late. Be sure to get there earlier so that you will have enough time to enjoy the wine. Fleming’s 100™ has a huge selection of some of the finest wines around.
Head to the back room where all the wine is showcased and tasted. The price is great for the amount of wine you get to sample and enjoy. They have handouts to guide you as you journey through the various types of wine and a pen for you to take any notes.
In the center was a table with a few snacks. What wine pairing would be perfect without some cheese? There are a few other appetizers to nibble on and cleanse the palette as you enjoy the fine wines. Ms. Lin and I were able to find some new favorites. Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Valley Indian Wells, 2007/2008 was the standout for the night. This Cabernet is rated 90 points and goes down smoothly. For the whites, we thought the Merryvale, Napa Valley Starmont, 2008 Chardonnay was buttery and pleasant to drink. They showcase different wines at each "Opening Night". If you missed any of these special events, don't worry they offer almost all of their great wines by the glass. Kudos to them for having so many wines by the glass. Customers can easily find a favorite wine and not worry about having to finish a bottle.
The staff here are super friendly and tons of fun. As I was walking by taking photos of their open kitchen they decided to take a group photo. I didn't flash so the photo isn't as clear, but they clearly were having a lot of fun. They said, "Keep the photo it will be famous one day." =) Great vibe and attitude.
Operating Partner Russ Bendel, Jr. and Chef Partner Christopher Hutten were both a delight and great hosts. Chef Hutten had previously been part of the Fleming's team but left a while back in other culinary pursuits, but his heart always belonged with Fleming's. He came around full circle when they called him to be a Chef Partner and he gladly accepted. Once you've worked for Fleming's, you will never want to leave.
They brought out fresh bread with a Chardonnay Feta and Rosemary Tomato Spread. I enjoy that they don't give the typical butter to add some pizazz to the bread.
To start off the evening, Ms. Lin got a Syrah and I opted for a Virgin Piña Colada. Yes, you read right... Virgin. O=) I was surprised they offered Piña Colada, but they have quite a few virgin blended drinks for anyone who does not feel like wine for the night.
I couldn't resist the temptations of French Onion Soup baked with Swiss and Parmesan Cheeses. How can one resist the fragrant aroma from the broth and the crisp melted cheese?! I asked for extra cheese and enjoyed every stringy bite. Mmm. Ms. Lin was not too happy that I just ate the cheese and drank a little soup because she had to finish everything else. O=)
Do I dare? Heck yah I do! Bring on the Chilled Seafood Tower for 2 baby! There were so many appetizing starters that I wanted to try but I felt bad if I ordered a bunch plus the tower. For the sake of my love for seafood, I forgoed the rest of the appetizers. Lobster, shrimp, and crab.. oh my! =D They really should be afraid of me, the seafood monster! Nom Nom Nom NOM! The accompaniments were Paprika Mayo and Horseradish Cocktail Sauce. On the platter was a lobster tail, 6 shrimps, white fish ceviche, lump dungeness crab, 2 king crab legs, and 4 snow crab claws!
Everything was fresh and tasty. I was astonished that the snow crab claws were so sweet and tasty when I normally detest claws. Now I will be looking for some snow crab the next time I get a seafood craving.
Minimal peeling with all the rewards, that's the way to live. Everything was cracked and sliced so that it would be readily available. After we finished they brought hot towels and lemon to clean up. A very nice way to begin the meal. I ♥ Seafood! =)
Luckily I kept the wine menu at the table. I was curious to see if they had some wines that I like since that list is very small... I found out that they actually carry my favorite Riesling from Dr. Loosen. Immediately I asked for a glass. Love the fact that they have a vast menu of wines by the glass, which allow customers to enjoy many different types of wine.
If you are at a steakhouse you must order what they specialize in. "Fleming's serves the finest USDA Prime beef: corn-fed, aged up to four weeks for flavor and texture, then broiled at 1600 degrees to seal in all the juices and flavor. All our steaks are seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper; finished with a touch of butter and freshly chopped parsley." Since I was unable to get the Prime Bone-In Ribeye from Carnevino, I had to get it here. The steak was nicely grilled and tender. Their meat was nicely marbleized to capture the natural flavor of the beef.
For the side, I chose the Lobster Mashed Potatoes where they use an 8 oz. Australian Lobster Tail with lobster cream sauce top of the mashed potatoes. The lobster was naturally sweet. I guess you can call this my own version of surf and turf. Got to have my steak and lobster. Always a perfect combo.
Ms. Lin chose a Fleming's New Classics, Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon. It's a center cut served with grilled asparagus spears and a gorgonzola cream sauce. The sauce was smooth and added a nice kick to the natural flavor of the meat.
The side she chose was Chipotle Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese. Who doesn't like mac & cheese? It was creamy but not cheesy enough and I couldn't really taste the chipotle flavor. They give a healthy portion that can definitely feed the table.
Everyone recommended the Chocolate Lava Cake, which takes about 15 minutes to prepare. It is a rich chocolate cake with a molten chocolate center served with vanilla ice cream and a pistachio cookie. I love how the chocolate oozes out as you cut into it. The warm soft center just melts in your mouth. I actually really enjoy eating the cookie boat that the ice cream sits in.
All in all it was a wonderful evening full of great wines and great food. A great big thanks to Lee for inviting and hosting the evening. Loved the fresh crabs in the seafood tower. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversation with Chef Hutten and the rest of the staff. While I was there eating, I looked at their Summer Prix Fixe menu and already starting to plan a return trip. I only wish I had enough room for the Key Lime Pie... mmmm. =)
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
455 Newport Center Drive in Fashion Island
Newport Beach, CA 92660