Greer's OC: Adopt a kitten, cat through Second Chance

Kittens and cats are patiently waiting for a home through Huntington Beach-based Second Chance Pet Adoptions. Its darling kittens are kept at Petco and PetSmart in Huntington Beach. There's a summer adoption fee special of $99 that includes neuter/spay, vaccinations, FVRCP/FIV testing, micro-chipping, vet check, ID tag/collar and a bag of food. It's a great deal, because their expenses exceed the adoption fee.

Petco is at 5961 Warner Ave. in Huntington Beach. For more information, call (714) 846-7331. PetSmart is at 7600 Edinger Ave. in Huntington Beach. For more information, call (714) 842-5253. For more information about Second Chance Pet Adoptions, call (714) 715-3027 or visit

Eat like royalty at Five Crowns

Curious to see what the unveiling of the updated Five Crowns in Corona del Mar will look (and taste) like? It's celebrating its grand reopening Thursday. For the first time in 46 years, the landmark restaurant closed for one month and will debut a new casual yet elegant dining experience, promising an improved dining value.

New Executive Chef Ryan O'Melveny Wilson, a fourth-generation Lawry family member, is keeping the Five Crowns' prime rib signature dish and other longtime favorites such as its traditional rib-eye, creamed spinach and creamed corn. And he'll introduce seasonal additions with fresh, regionally sourced ingredients. New menu items for spring will include wild salmon from Oregon, gem lettuce and Point Reyes Original Blue salad (a twist on a Five Crowns classic) and, as a vegetarian entrée, morel mushroom risotto with wild ramps and parmigiano reggiano.

Craft beers, classic cocktails and a finely tuned wine list are also part of the new menu. For dessert, treats include a dark chocolate soufflé, a strawberry and rhubarb tart and a dozen artisan cheeses. The restaurant's interior maintains the warmth and antiques of its English inn ambience, yet now features stunning sepia-toned silver gelatin prints from David Halliday, silver, gray and persimmon fabrics, hand-figured light fixtures and wood floors for a fresh, open space. The beautiful English garden and greenhouse patio are still ideal settings for outdoor dining and festive events.

SideDoor gastropub, named Orange Coast Magazine's 2010 Restaurant of the Year, is also attached to Five Crowns; its main entrance is on Poppy Avenue. The Five Crowns is open for dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at 3801 East Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar. For more information, call (949) 760-0331 or visit

Enjoy a meal, fight hunger

Giving to charity has never felt (or tasted) so good. Just by attending a rare celebrity chef collaboration dinner Sunday at Montage Laguna Beach, you can help eliminate childhood hunger. Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation is a leading culinary benefit that's raising funds for nutrition programs and fighting hunger with seven celebrity chefs joining Craig Strong, executive chef of Studio at Montage Laguna Beach. They'll be preparing fresh farm to table dishes for you to taste while you enjoy wine and signature cocktails, live music and spectacular ocean views.

Participating chefs include Scott Conant of Scarpetta Beverly Hills, Richard Ruskell of Montage Beverly Hills, Mark Peel of Campanile in Los Angeles, Joachim Splichal of Patina in Los Angeles, Alex Stratta of Alex in Las Vegas and Alan Wong of Alan Wong's in Honolulu.

The celebrity chef tasting is from 4 to 7 p.m. ($150 per person in advance, $175 at the door). You can also complete the evening and attend a VIP meet-the-chefs reception from 7 to 9 p.m. ($250 per person, or $275 at the door). Valet parking and event gifts are included.

Montage Laguna Beach is at 30801 South Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.

For more information about the Taste of the Nation at Montage Laguna Beach and to purchase tickets, visit or call (877) 268-2783.

Avanti expands its menu

After six years of serving some of the best vegetarian and organic foods in Orange County, Avanti Café in Costa Mesa celebrates by maturing from a restaurant/deli/bakery to a new full-fledged contemporary restaurant with new lunch, dinner and brunch menus; beers on tap; more room for dining; and, arriving soon, live music and deejay events.

From the get-go, chefs and co-owners Mark Cleveland and Tanya Fuqua created a haven for foodies (no need to be a vegetarian or vegan to love this place), where they lovingly prepare everything from scratch and serve as many organic ingredients as possible. Their produce comes exclusively from South Coast Farms in San Juan Capistrano.

I can't think of a better place to find homemade organic feta, ricotta, and mascarpone, and organic whey sherbet and buttermilk béchamel. And who else smokes organic mozzarella in-house? They also make hemp crackers, chutney, hot sauces, condiments (ketchup, Thousand Island, mustards), as well as organic breads and bakery items. And the plates you'll be eating off are also handmade by Mark and Tanya.

The creative pair just finished a remodel that's as eco-friendly as possible, with sustainable black walnut and Brazilian cherry tabletops hand made by Tanya's dad, LED lighting, low VOC paint and sleek concrete flooring.

It's all-new offerings include dinner appetizers (we love the organic polenta bites with fresh organic feta cheese), entrees and complex plated desserts. At dinner, they'll start you off with a complimentary plate of hemp seed crackers with garlic spread and tomato oil.

And I'm not trying to persuade you with your order, but you'd be crazy not to order the shiitake artichoke pizza with garnet yam, garlic shallot, baby arugula and spinach with olives and mixed nuts; or the pizza Bianca with organic ricotta and mixed cheeses, garlic shallots, baby arugula, spinach, olives, almonds and rosemary sea salt. These items are served at lunch ($10) and dinner ($11).

To your pizza, add incredible toppings ($1.95) that include oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, miso dengaku roasted tofu, barbecued tempeh, smoked organic mozzarella or avocado.

And definitely try the pesto pizza with spinach arugula pesto, falafel crusted onion rings, oven-dried tomatoes and barbecued tempeh for dinner ($11). (It's even better with organic house-made ricotta cheese or smoked organic mozzarella.)

Skipping to brunch, go for the French organic omelet with fresh herbs rolled in a cheese blend served with 10-plus-grain toast. Or try its eggs scrambled with arugula and spinach and served open-faced on 10-plus-grain toast and cumin tomato jam, organic smoked mozzarella, avocado and organic citrus miso-dressed baby greens. Equally good is our favorite cranberry walnut French toast grilled in a light coconut batter with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.

Not that you need more reasons to go to Avanti, but it's beer o'clock from 5 to 7 p.m. (select weekdays) with special prices on beers.

Avanti is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at 259 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa. For more information, call (949) 548-2224 or visit

GREER WYLDER writes Greer's OC for the Huntington Beach Independent each Thursday and the Daily Pilot and Coastline Pilot each Friday. She's the founder and president of, a free daily e-mail service that provides the latest in Orange County fashion, dining, music, events and trends. Her blog can be viewed and she can be contacted at

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