Cooking in a simple and rustic Arc

A new restaurant in Costa Mesa with decor that's a modernized take on 1920s New York is having its grand opening Friday evening.

The folks behind Arc Restaurant at the South Coast Collection, 3321 Hyland Ave., are calling their nearly 1,800-square-foot restaurant a new American roast house and classic cocktail bar.

"We're looking more into doing right what we were doing in the '20s, kind of a happy period when we weren't overthinking things too much," said head chef and co-owner Noah Blom, a Newport Beach native. "It was a more simple age."

Some of Arc's food offerings, generally priced between $10 and $15, are familiar American staples. The owners said their food is a version of "what your mom would make at home": casseroles, pork and beans, or steak and potatoes. The ingredients are locally sourced and served in cast-iron, wood or black-clay serving dishes.

Arc's owners say the restaurant — which will serve lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily — is all about simplicity in an environment where there is show in making the food. Furthermore, the bar and kitchen are literally one.

"Our bar is our kitchen and our kitchen is our bar," said co-owner Marin Howarth, Blom's wife, who serves as operations manager and, as the "professional prettier," contributed to Arc's retro and rustic design.

"We're not trying to bring a pretentiousness to dining," Blom added. "We're really trying to scale that back and bring a simplicity back to dining, in everything we do."

The centerpiece of Arc is a large wood-fired oven. Keeping it going is labor-intensive, but worth it for the distinctive flavor it gives the food, Blom said.

Koire Rogers, a Costa Mesa resident, is in charge of the cocktail menu, right down to the housemade ingredients and hand-chopped ice cubes.

He's particularly excited about the Cigarettes and Coffee drink, which includes smoked bitters, rye whiskey, Amaro liqueur and grated coffee from nearby Portola Coffee Lab at the OC Mix.

The restaurant's name has two meanings: a reference to a joke to name the restaurant "Noah's Ark," and something the owners came up with after perusing a thesaurus. Blom and Howarth said they traced "arc" to an Old English word that meant fire or flame.

"When you look at how our oven runs at full speed, when it's going really hot, it arches in this beautiful piece of flame that runs around the top of it and licks the front side of it," Blom said. "So for us, it's really about flame and fire."

Blom, who also co-founded Shuck Oyster Bar at the OC Mix, said the process of finding a spot for Arc took nearly five years, and initially the South Coast Collection wasn't anywhere near the top of that list. When they first drove by it, he said, they laughed and drove away, thinking it was some "mini-mall in Fountain Valley."

But South Coast Collection's developers, Scott Burnham and Bryon Ward, eventually convinced them otherwise, encouraging them throughout the development process.

Blom went to culinary school in San Francisco and has worked there and in New York, but said there's nothing like opening up a business you can call your own.

"It's our own restaurant after a long career of opening restaurants for other people, making good decisions, making bad decisions. For this one, every dollar is essentially our own. It was a no-compromise kind of thing."

Twitter: @bradleyzint

If You Go

What: Arc Restaurant's grand opening

When: 5 p.m. Friday

Where: 3321 Hyland Ave., Suite F, Costa Mesa

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