Thursday, October 7, 2010
What did I find in my e-mail box? An invite for a media dinner at Leatherby's Café Rouge? How did this happen? After my first visit a while back I wasn't ever going to return, but fate has thrown me a curve ball by inviting me back. Luckily I do give places second chances because things can have changed in the time I haven't been there or maybe the previous experience was an off night. You never know and it is best not to make quick judgments. Times have changed and Executive Chef Ross Pangilinan is manning the helm taking Leatherby's on a new uncharted adventure. Located next to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Leatherby's has a beautiful modern glass design that captivates passersby. I am glad I was invited to this great media dinner with many wonderful bloggers. Finally able to meet Mike from Eating My Way Through OC and Griffin from Griffin Eats.
To start the evening off with a bang they served Chateau Moncontour Champagne along with a surprising amuse-bouche. The compressed watermelon with pop rocks was exciting and refreshing. It was a great mix of savory and sweet. As you sink your teeth into the compressed watermelon the delicious juice seeps out and set off an explosion of pop rocks. Everyone these days seems to be taking a trip down memory lane by bringing back classic sweets for that extra oomph.
That was just the beginning and the evening was young. We were given a Fresh Seafood Quartet that was very nicely plated. They actually served very nicely poached lobster with crisp croutons and assorted fresh vegetables. I thought this was succulent and paired well. Who doesn't know that I simply adore lobster? I only wish we had more of this.
Included in the quartet was a light octopus salad with heirloom tomatoes and cucumber. This was very light and the octopus was tender, not chewy. I thought the tuna tartare in a crispy wonton cone was cute. The tartare was flavored well and complemented the crisp wonton well. I enjoyed the lightly seared hamachi topped with green apple and jicama. The spice used to rub the outer layer added a real zing. Overall this was a tasty start to a promising evening.
There are three items on my "list" of favorite ingredients... lobster, foie gras... and truffles! For the second course they served a House Made Fettuccine with Roasted Mushroom, White Wine Parmesan Sauce, AND Summer Truffle!! We enjoyed a Frank Family Chardonnay with this course. There were plenty healthy shavings of truffle strewn out on top of the twist of fettuccine. This was creamy and savory. I only wish the truffle was a little more fragrant and emanated on the palette with each bite. Still, this was a solid dish.
For the main course we each got to choose from the list. The black bass sounded great, but I always default to duck. On my previous experience I had their beef short ribs and it failed to impress so I was a little shy about trying this dish. Thanks to Vanessa's generosity, I was able to sample her duo of beef short ribs that was both tender and flavorful. I really enjoyed the raclette potatoes. The Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast was paired with Mushroom Risotto, Caramelized Blackberries, Szechuan Pepper, and Cider Jus. To pair with the main course they served an Acacia Pinot Noir. I thought the duck was cooked to perfection withe a crisp skin and a juicy center. The portion was very generous with two thick slices of breast meat. It's definitely worth going back for.
Surprise! Another serving of truffles you say?? They brought out huge sides of Truffle Risotto. I kidded with everyone that I don't share and was going to usurp the bowl for myself. Little did they know I was half kidding! It took all the will power in the world not to take the bowl gobble it down. I controlled the urges and ate a few delicate scoops. In the end there was plenty left and I was so tempted to ask for all of it packed up so I can revel each bite in private! Alas... I didn't. O=)
Last but definitely not least was the assortment of desserts they brought to the table! I was astonished to find out that Executive Chef Ross Pangilinan created and made all of these. As many people have seen on all the cooking shows that the one weakness of most chefs is pastries/desserts. Chef Pangilinan really brought out his A-game for the night.
Everyone enjoyed the mystery of the Watermelon Sorbet. So what made it savory? He added a hint of white pepper for that extra pizazz.
Their Bread Pudding was beautifully presented and scrumptious. It was warm and melted in my mouth.
The Panna Cotta had a smooth velvety texture and tasty. I enjoyed nibbling on the pistachio brittle.
They served a non-traditional cheesecake. My favorite part as always was munching on the crust. The chocolate indulgences trio was great. This was definitely the most heavy of the desserts but I love chocolate so I didn't mind. Each chocolate treat crumbled and melted in my mouth. We were served Heitz Ink Port and coffee to enjoy with the desserts.
All in all it was a wonderful evening with awesome company. We were able to chit chat about the food and everything that is happening in town. Nothing better than to share it all over a delicious meal and wonderful service. Even though I had a horrible experience the first time I was here, this dinner made up for all of it. It's a perfect place to grab dinner before a show or if you are just coming to enjoy the food. Tip: If you come after everyone is at the shows, then you will have a quiet relaxing evening with your companion(s). Bon Appétit!
Leatherby's Café Rouge
615 Town Center Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626