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The following are summaries of recent Times...

The following are summaries of recent Times restaurant reviews.

Gemmell’s, 3000 Bristol St., Costa Mesa . (714) 751-1074. Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays 6 to 10:30 p.m.

You’ve seen it all before: the quiet, understated rooms, the tables draped like ballroom gowns, the silver domes, the brandy cart. At Gemmell’s, thank heaven, it all makes sense. Treat yourself to an evening here, feasting on such specialties as goose liver wrapped in blackened cabbage, lobster in Sauteres, veal chop with morels. Chef Byron Gemmell has a carefully designed menu with nearly every item on it worthy of praise. Prepare to pay handsomely for the privilege of praising.

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McCormick and Schmick, 2000 Main St., Irvine. (714) 756-0505. Open Mondays through Fridays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

McCormick and Schmick is the latest member of an exclusive chain that started in the Pacific Northwest, a slick, muscular operation specializing in fresh seafoods, and the food is terrific. Oysters like Quilicene, Olympia, Golden Mantle, and Skookum taste as if they have just been dragged from the sea. Fish like Copper River salmon in cream with bay scallops, or sea bass with Jamaican spices, are good enough to make a grown man weep. Non-fish eaters can feast on marinated chicken, or Cajun cheeseburgers. Head of the class.

China Palms, Fullerton Metro Center, 104 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Fullerton. (714) 526-2196. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Joe Ling put a palm tree in the middle of his restaurant, an airy, ultra- modern dining room in Fullerton’s spanking new Metro Center. But there is nothing tropical about the solid pan-Chinese food he serves, made in one of the most accomplished Chinese kitchens around. Cold dishes, dumplings and first-rate soups make perfect beginnings. Honey-glazed bananas, plunged steaming into an ice-filled bowl tableside, make perfect endings. The goodies you can have in between are too numerous to mention.

Ferrantelli, 25001 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point. (714) 493-1401. Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10, Fridays and Saturdays till 11.

Ferrantelli is an engaging dockside pasta house that doesn’t take a lot of chances but offers solid meals. The house antipasto, a stunning palette of color and taste, gives an idea of the type of effort the kitchen puts in with its limited skill. Pastas are fine, too, made fresh daily by Pasta Mia and embellished with a variety of good sauces. But the veal dishes are tasteless, and main courses are often sweet and cloying.

Yankee Tavern, 333 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach. (714) 675 5333. Open nightly 5:30 to midnight.

Those who know Yankee Tavern owner Hans Prager as proprietor of the Ritz may be surprised to see him in this urban roadhouse, catering to a crowd hungry for low prices, speedy service and an unpretentious menu. The food here is almost unfailingly good, though, in a cafeteria-style manner. Meat loaf, pot pie, lamb shanks and fresh seafoods are featured along with many New England style dishes such as Little Neck clams, seafood stew and blueberry cobbler. Good fun.

Kachina, 222 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. (714) 497-5546. Open nightly from 5:30 to 10.

Kachina is new, but it already may be the county’s best restaurant. Named for an American Indian doll of the Southwest, the restaurant serves food that is rare and exotic--edible art. David Wilhelm, late of Pave and the El Torito Grill, has composed a menu featuring some of the most imaginative, intelligent cooking this side of the Twilight Zone, full of sumptuous tastes and color-splashed textures. Run, don’t walk, to taste their green corn tamale, honey-glazed pork and celestial chocolate bread pudding. And go early.

Agostino’s, 34700 Coast Highway, Capistrano Beach. (714) 661-8266. Open Tuesdays through Sundays noon to 3 and 5 to 10.

Entirely new management is in place at this Chicago-style Italian restaurant, famous for its homemade sausage and romantic beach view. Much of the menu, including the tableside Caesar and the rich, creamy pastas, is the same as it was when the place was called Sabatino’s. But Agostino already has added many seafood dishes including mussels, fresh salmon, and calamari. The bar is as good a hangout as you’ll find on Capo Beach.

Tuttomare, 545 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach. (714) 640-6333. Open Mondays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays 11 to midnight; Saturdays 11:30 to midnight; Sundays 5 to 10.

Service is fluid and solicitous at this smart, stunning restaurant, located in the building that used to house the Savannah Grill, but the kitchen is having its ups and downs. Wonderful, yeasty foccaccia bread served with virgin olive oil and the fine grilled seafoods are some of the ups. Naked vegetables and bland pasta dishes are some of the downs. Lombata di vitello, veal chop with fontina and prosciutto, is one reason to go back for a second look.


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