The following are summaries of recent Times...
The following are summaries of recent Times restaurant reviews.
Al’s Steakhouse & Saloon, 16020 E. 1st St., Santa Ana . (714) 550-0847 . Open daily 5 to 10 p.m. (until 11 on weekends). Just as our waitress promised, there is “nothin’ fancy, just food” at this urban steakhouse that looks as if it belongs alongside one of those old highways made obsolete by the interstates. Appetizers are served on large, cast-iron skillets, and there is a giant relish tray with all meals. Salad dressings are homemade and include a very good Caesar and a thick, hearty ranch. Steaks can be tough, but non-steak items are terrific, like barbecued pork ribs, an entire slab, and lamb chops, six mini-chops marinated in garlic and flame broiled. Bionic baked potatoes and heaps of steamed veggies ride sidesaddle. Be hungry, or have a big dog waiting at home.
Capriccio Italiano Ristorante, 25830 Marguerite Parkway, Village Mall, Mission Viejo. (714) 855-6866. Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 4 to 9:30; weekends 4 to 9:30.
Capriccio may mean “whim” in Italian, but there is nothing whimsical about the food in this restaurant; it is polished and sophisticated. For my money, it is a real find. The kitchen is run by two brothers from Palermo, Sal and Franco Maniaci, but there is barely a trace of Sicilan influence in the dishes they serve. Appetizers like vitello tonnato and lumache del bosco are marvelous, and pastas are fresh and homemade. Many main dishes have French overtones, like a stylish lamb rack with truffles and foie gras , or a civet of hare called lepre salmi. Cappriccio’s location is modest, and so are prices, but its class is obvious.
Dewi, 1762 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 637-1101, and 9606 Hamilton Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 962-4446. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hurry over--while there is still time--to Dewi in Orange, a small Indonesian restaurant/grocery store hidden among commercial properties along a busy avenue. Nasi rames is a mixed rice plate with a whole cookbook full of Indonesian goodies, and the restaurant has fabulous barbecued chicken and hot stewed beef dishes. Owner Edith Vredevoogd is constantly preparing little snacks like lemper , a sticky rice roll filled with minced chicken, or cendol , mysterious green bits taken with crushed ice, syrup, and jackfruit. Don’t despair if you miss the Orange restaurant, though. There is a second Dewi run by Mrs. V’s brother in Huntington Beach. Exotica at its best.
The Golden Truffle, 1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa. (714) 645-9858 . Open Tuesdays through Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays through Thursdays, 6 to 9:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 6 to 10 p.m.
The Golden Truffle is an eccentric restaurant with an eclectic menu that defies rhythm or logic. Chef Alan Greeley is whimsical; he cooks for the sheer pleasure of it, and it mostly tastes terrific. Bay shrimp cocktail Yucatan is like a combination gazpacho-ceviche, with tiny shrimp and chunky pieces of avocado, immobilized in a thick, tangy puree of tomato and chili. Broiled marinated skirt steak with pinto beans and cactus is a triumph. Nothing else on the menu will prepare you for it. There is a wide selection of preium wines and bistro-like desserts. The ambience is relaxed and casual, like a high school friend’s livingroom.
The Greek Corner, 520 Main St., Huntington Beach . (714) 960-3212 . Open Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.
The Greek Corner is an odd looking restaurant, with barely a hint of Greek decor, but it’s full of Hellenic spirit and Mediterranean fire. Weekends, there is dancing on the dining room floor led by the proprietor, papa Loizides, and his wife Rodula who doubles as chef. Don’t expect your food to come out with any regularity. All dinners begin with fresh bread and tzatziki , an addictive appetizer made from yogurt, garlic, cucumber, mint, and olive oil.
JW’s, in the Anaheim Marriott Hotel, 700 W. Convention Way, Anaheim . (714) 750-0900 . Open Mondays through Saturdays, 6 to 9 p.m.
JW’s is one of those staunchly old-school special occasion restaurants, but the food is somewhat innovative and of surprisingly high quality. Appetizers show a certain daring, like home grown foie gras served on a potato galette in a Madeira sauce, or escargot ravioli with wild mushrooms. Main dishes show enthusiasm as well, and the sauces accompanying them are generally big hits. Roast boar comes drenched with a simple sauce of sage, juniper and honey, and has a robust spiciness. Venison comes in a sauce based on red wine vinegar. Prices are definitely on the high end.
Mi Rincon, 7001 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana . (714) 836-9482 . Open daily except Monday s from noon to 9 p.m., weekends until 10 p.m.
Mi Rincon specializes in Peruvian cuisine, a mingling of Indian and Spanish influences with a host of original twists. Ceviche, the seafood appetizer of marinated raw fish so often identified as Mexican, is really Peruvian in origin, and Maria Leva, the chef here, makes one of the best versions ever. Papas a la Huancaina is a classic dish from northern Peru, whole boiled potatoes blanketed with a rich sauce made from cheese, cream, chili, and olive oil. Arroz con pato is an amazing braised duck specialty with coriander rice.
Mimi’s Cafe, five Orange County locations: 1240 N. Euclid, Anaheim, (714) 535-1552; 1835 E. Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 722-6722; 7935 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 898-5022; 17231 E. 17th St., Tustin, (714) 544-5522; 18342 Imperial Hwy., Yorba Linda, (714) 996-7650. Open daily 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Mimi’s Cafe has ten Southland locations boasting identical menus and decor. There’s almost always a line to get in. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches and breakfasts along with such entrees as mesquite broiled fish and a host of (commercially) baked desserts. The kittenish and busy decor hints at France, though from the outside, the places looks like gingerbread houses. Food at Mimi’s tastes much like what the French think American food is; abundant sugar and salt, abundant period.