Event - Pinot Provence Spring Menu Preview
Whenever a new season swings by (and happily, spring is my favorite), it is always exciting to see what restaurants are putting out, especially those that focus on featuring seasonal dishes. I was gratefully invited to a preview of Pinot Provence's spring menu, and it was a delicious experience both visually and in taste. If you don't know about this gem, it's been a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner since 2003 and was voted "Best French Restaurant in Orange County" by MyFoxLA.com.
The restaurant is a part of the Patina Restaurant Group and is conveniently located across the way from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (from the street, you might spot Scott's Restaurant first which shares the same lot). The style of food is a tad on the side of rustic Southern French and a tad on the side of seasonal class (I'm making up a category). Throughout you'll see purposeful decor of old, which would not only make it a romantic night for dinner but also a welcoming, European style for lunch. Seating is present both inside and outside.
I saw a few familiar faces at the lunch the other day but also met a few new ones. We were in one of their private dining rooms, an intimate place setting for 12 that you can reserve for milestone celebrations or just because. Our menus were already set in front of us when we entered, and I was excited to see the planned courses which took on a seafood theme where the actual seafood was paired with bright, spring-inspired flavors.
The first to come out will be available on both their lunch and dinner menus - their Crab and Melon Salad (Cavaillon melon, Dungeness crab, coriander, and port wine atop very thinly sliced watermelon). The first impression that everyone had when the dish hovered near the table was that the salad was very beautifully presented. Every color popped, and each ingredient's placement atop the sliced watermelon suggested how to steer the course. Each bite featured each ingredient, an impressive task considering how many there were. The freshness of the Dungeness crab and its sweet texture let it melt well with the geometrically shaped fruits and thinly shaven vegetables. I also very much enjoyed every pop of coriander flavor throughout and the light yogurt dollops.
Our second course was a particularly special treat as it will not be available on the menu (sorry!) - Chef Alonso's Prawns (spot prawns, Yukon potatoes, uni, Osetra caviar, crème fraîche, Marscapone, and pistachio vinaigrette). Thick prawns that were a little soft along the edges wrapped around golden balls of potatoes, both easy to slice through and swirl into either crème fraîche or Marscapone as you pleased. The caviar atop each choice gave salty accents, happily welcomed. As for the uni, good goodness was it tasty and fresh!
The gorgeous third course is something you can order for dinner, and I would highly recommend it. Not only will you smell the flavorfully roasted halibut from afar, you will also quickly see both the golden color on the outside and the flaky white inside. The Halibut (roasted halibut, pea puree, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and Vadouvan curry crunches with a saffron emulsion) was expertly executed to be well-salted and crispy on the outside and still flaky and soft enough inside to get through without a knife. Obviously fresh peas drew some contrasting color to the plate and were playful to eat. The pea puree caught everyone's attention because who would have thought they would enjoy "mashed" peas so much? I'm also always a fan of mushrooms so you know I enjoyed these ones.
Lastly, the perfect dessert was brought by, and I felt like I must have been someone important to be treated so well by this dish. The Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta (with blood orange and honeycomb) quivered on my plate so demurely that each spoonful seemed forbidden. I first noticed its vanilla bean top layer, an artful preview of what the creaminess underneath would taste like. The blood orange's citrus flavor wonderfully paired with the rich pannacotta in a very mature and genius manner (yet also nostalgia-inducing as my memory sped back to Creamsicle days). However, to not neglect the sweetness that a dessert calls for, the crunchy bits of honeycomb were there to give each bite a declaration of dessertdom. You can indulge in this at any meal there and please do let me know what you think if you get the chance to experience it.
My thank you to Danielle and Talya for the invitation, Executive Chef Alonso Ramirez for the fantastic feast, and the staff for not only being very attentive and friendly but also very knowledgeable about each dish coming out. If you're interested in visiting Pinot Provence, they are located at 686 Anton Blvd Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
Photography by Minerva Thai. More photos available on Facebook.