Thursday, March 14, 2013
Eatery - ARC (CA)
3321 Hyland Ave, Ste F, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - Casual, Dressy Casual | Cuisine - American (New)
Am I late to the blogger/food writer game to start writing about this place? Yeah, pretty much. However, with OC Restaurant Week not too distant from today, the blog was getting inundated with other posts. So yes, I do apologize but hey, I hope this will drive the final nail in you getting yourself out to ARC.
I came to ARC with the lovely Anne Watson after we had briefly walked around SoCo Collection enjoying the beautiful sunny California weather.I had been curious for the longest time about ARC because of the philosophy behind it and because, let's face it, it looks dang sexy inside. We came for lunch however so there wasn't the same night scene. Nevertheless, it was still giving off a good vibe. I love the wooden, rustic look that has both an antique and modern feel to it. Check out one of the trivets in my pictures that they put out - that black metal and intricate design gives me happy feels. There are even plans in action currently to get real bricks from the actual streets of Paris to create an outdoor patio; it's definitely a restaurant still in process of improvement but presently open for business. Of course, when I sat down at the bar, it seemed poor form not to get a drink from master mixologist Koire so I opted for the Gloom (junipero gin, cocchi americano, and lavender). Is it bad that I expected it to be purple because of the lavender and it's the name of a Pokemon? Sure shows my age. Don't worry - I am at least legal enough to sip the delectable drink and delicious it was. Light but herbally aromatic from the gin, this was something I was fine starting the day on (sorry - didn't eat beforehand).
Then it was time for the food. We had to order several dishes due to just curiosity. The potatoes that came out were roasted to a close perfection and seasoned to let the potato shine through but still highlight subtle sprinklings. I also enjoyed the fresh herbs and light touches of char from it being cooked in its cast iron skillet in their wood-fire stove. We also had the Dip which came with bread that's good enough itself to devour. There were separations between the different dips into which we could eat; I'm assuming that we had the option of leaving them separated or using a piece to mix all together. We were both polite enough to each other to try each portion individually and were rewarded by the flavors by doing so. There was a ricotta side that was very fresh and light, a tomato side with a good tang and roastedness, and a pepper/mole side that gave a savory finish to each bite. Delicious - yes! However, at $12, I'm a little hesitant about making it a repeat dish. Then we did something I don't normally do but we did because our neighbors at the bar had several off-menu items. There are chef specials that let you try items not on the normal list; owner Noah Bloom explained these to us and we could not resist getting one of their sandwiches for the day. Therefore, we got the pork sandwich which was downright scrumptious, especially with its inclusion of sweet chili pepper. Yum!
I debated on how I could rate this place actually because I was hesitant about the pricing of each dish (don't expect it to be an inexpensive meal). However, as aforementioned, I do quite respect what they're trying to do by using head-to-tail practices and cooking as genuinely as possible with a wood-fire stove. They decided to go with quality first despite being a brand new restaurant, and it shows in the way the establishment is run. The food, while beautifully presented, was not all necessarily perfect or mindblowing but still enjoyable as is the atmosphere. I'll have to definitely come back here during the nighttime to see what difference it makes.
Photography by Minerva Thai.