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On Food: Coastal cuisine with harbor views at Newport’s Tavern

tavern house
Honey buttermilk fried chicken, a voodoo shrimp martini and white sea bass crudo served with a glass of Erata Pinot Noir at Tavern House Kitchen + Bar.
(Spencer Grant)

A New American eatery with enviable harbor views recently opened in Newport Beach.

Tavern House Kitchen + Bar, which replaced 3-Thirty-3 Waterfront at 333 Bayside Drive, is the latest endeavor by longtime O.C. restaurateurs David Wilhelm and Gregg Solomon, whose previous efforts have included French 75, Sorrento Grille and Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern.

In an interview after the summer grand opening, Wilhelm said Tavern House exemplifies coastal foods that are fresh and light. Mixed in there are classic comfort foods and some of his “greatest hits” from his previous restaurants.

“It’s like a homecoming,” he said. “It’s been really gratifying.”

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Tavern House Kitchen + Bar
Tavern House Kitchen + Bar founder David Wilhelm in his new restaurant in Newport Beach.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

Menu items include a top-selling honey buttermilk fried chicken (served alongside red bliss potatoes, heirloom green beans and thyme gravy), maple and bacon charred brussels sprouts, a “Veracruzana” red snapper (with heirloom tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, jalapenos, garlic and capers), barbecue chipotle bourbon oysters, and garlic and black pepper roasted prime rib.

Everything’s made from small vegetable farms, sustainable seafood, and humanely-raised poultry and livestock.

The interior of Tavern House, with its views of Newport Harbor, is a show-stealer as a well. Warm and inviting, with shades of blue, gray and cream, it’s a bit reminiscent of a Yosemite lodge. Wilhelm noted how since 3-Thirty-3, they’ve also remodeled with new lighting, flooring and seating.

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For drinks, Tavern offers a comfortable horseshoe-shaped bar serving classic cocktails and wine from a curated menu.

The name Tavern House also pays homage to chef Hans Prager’s Yankee Tavern, which operated at the site from 1989 to 2003. Furthermore, Wilhelm has a fondness for the word tavern.

“It speaks to a local neighborhood place that was originally a gathering place,” he said.

Four boat slips are also available for those wanting to float on in.

IF YOU GO

What: Tavern House Kitchen + Bar

Where: 333 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach

When: Happy hour Monday through Thursday, 4 to 6 p.m. and Friday 3 to 6 p.m.; dinner nightly at 5 p.m.; weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Information: (949) 673-8464; tavernhousekb.com

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