On a recent evening with perfect weather, South Coast Plaza hosted a private party with a menu designed by two chefs opening new establishments there this year.
The food of Amar Santana and Tony Esnault took center stage, as did the venue: the Segerstrom family’s historic home ranch property off Fairview Road near the 405 Freeway. The roughly 50-acre plot is rarely open to the public, and the centerpiece is a stunningly-maintained 1915 Craftsman house. Modern-day offices for the family business are nearby.
The pre-dinner reception took place in the front yard, where guests could peek into the home from the porch and spy the vintage touches inside. Dinner was served on a long, rectangular table beautifully set up in the backyard.
The ranch remains a working farm, a reminder of the family’s agricultural roots growing lima beans, which it still does. Santana used them in falafel hors d’oeuvres, and Esnault in a wonderful hummus and “Riviera” shellfish salad, which also contained an amazing blend of Manila clams, mussels, cuttlefish, calamari, prawns, lemon confit, tomato, olives and parsley.
Santana and his business partner, Ahmed Labbate, are planning to open The Hall Global Eatery in the Plaza’s former Z’Tejas spot in August. Santana is a “Top Chef” finalist who opened the highly-lauded Vaca restaurant, also in Costa Mesa.
The “global marketplace” restaurant will offer both fast-casual and full-service dining, according to a news release. It looks to feature Mediterranean staples babaganoush, shawarma and hummus, as well as a crudo and charcuterie bar. It will also have a cafe and craft cocktails.
Santana’s prowess was noted at the dinner, with a perfectly grilled filet of beef served as an entrée, accompanied by corn pudding, asparagus, confit tomatoes and eggless béarnaise.
Esnault, with his wife, Yassmin Sarmadi, are opening Knife Pleat in Marché Moderne’s former space. The duo is known for two L.A. French restaurants, Spring and Church & State.
Knife Pleat, expected to open early June, promises “elegant yet approachable” French fare, according to the news release, and interior design inspired by “the world of high fashion with an architecture that is both tailored and feminine, edgy and classic.”