OC Fine Dining Weekday Lunch - Any price, any cuisine

It’s my cousin’s birthday, and she wants to do a fine dining lunch on a Thursday in February. I know…it’s a tall order. Marche Moderne is moving to a new location (Crystal Cove) in late January, so that’s out of the question. Anywhere in the OC works. Any budget and cuisine works, too. She likes smaller portions. No sushi, please.
And it has to be lunch because she can’t do dinner…and it has to be a Thursday lunch at that…I know…tall order. I’m hoping you FTCers can knock this one out of the park for me.

I would take the Catalina Express out of Dana Point to Avalon and have a lovely 3 course lunch at Mt. Ada at the Wrigley Estate, overlooking Avalon.
(closed till Feb 9th)

Hit up the zip line afterwards…woooo hooo!.

www.visitcatalinaisland.com/dining-nightlife/avalon/mt-ada

www.visitcatalinaisland.com/activities-adventures/land/zip-line-eco-tour

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That’s a fantastic idea, @Plumeria! I may save this one for my husband’s birthday in April as he’s an adventurer. My cousin has to be available to pick up her kids from school. I just checked the Flyer schedule…doesn’t look like it’ll work for her.

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How about Marche Moderne before they move?

marchemoderne.net

@teriyakichi Marche’s last service at their current location is Sunday. The new place won’t open until March. Great idea, but won’t pan out. Thanks!

Two totally random and unrelated suggestions:

The Dal Rae in Pico Rivera (I know, not OC).

Vaca

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@OCSteve I wasn’t to terribly impressed with Dal Rae when I went. Food was okay as was the location and service. I much more enjoy the experience at Clearman’s an exit away on Beverly.
I had initially thought of Vaca, but wasn’t sure if it was too casual given the menu. It may be the winner since Marche is unavailable.

Good to know about Dal Rae. Thanks!

What about Park Avenue Dining in Stanton?

J. Zhou?

I don’t think Vaca is too casual, but I haven’t been at lunch, so that might be a different experience than a Friday or Saturday night.

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I totally forgot about Park Avenue…didn’t even know they served lunch. Been meaning to get over there for il Garage, too. Given the choice between Vaca and Park, my cousin will pick Vaca. I think Vaca is our winner…thanks, @OCSteve.
Side note on Clearman’s…the place is pretty eclectic and has a whole lot of character, but the steaks are well-cooked, the bartenders are known to make a stiff cocktail, and the service is always fun…oh, and that cheese bread! I rather love sitting in the bar area right next to the firepit (during late fall/winter/early spring) for happy hour…the deals are fabulous and it’s a bit on the dim side, but super comfortable.

I’ve been to some of their other restaurants (North Woods Inn, Clearman’s Galley) and enjoyed them. This one’s on my list. Dal Rae was for years, but I never did get in there, and after seeing your comment, I’m thinking there are better options.

The Scotchery.

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Dang, I’ve been wanting to go to Dal Rae forever and it looks like my kind of place.

Nice call. Have you been? I’m interested in your thoughts.

We went recently…

To me, part of the appeal of Dal Rae is the old school feel of the place. The Scotchery is not that, though I agree that it would qualify as fine dining, and it would be a good option for lunch. The almost completely open floor plan with tile flooring does nothing to promote a cozy or intimate atmosphere. That being said, we will be back. What we had was very good, and their steaks seem like a good value compared to some of the other options in the area.

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@Plumeria I think Dal Rae works because it’s high-brow enough in a neighborhood that’s sorely lacking in anything like it’s kind. A lot of people do like it…that’s why it’s managed to stay in business for so long. But for this type of experience, I’d rather travel into the City for something more interesting.

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I’ve been a couple of times.

First time, we tried both the pork belly and the Kurobuta pork chop. Both were very good and while the belly was fine in its own right, the pork chop was revelatory. Juicy and tender (without being mushy), would’ve thought it might have been sous vide, but the the nicely charred bits gave it away.

Another time, we tried the tomahawk (to share), and while it was fine, it felt just like a really good (and big) steak with a really big bone. Good, but not something I would definitely drive out to Santa Ana for (speaking as an Angeleno, of course).

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For Italian, Il Barone in Newport Beach near the airport would probably be a good choice. In Huntington Beach, I greatly enjoyed a recent Birthday dinner at the new BlueGold, though I would not consider it fine dining (but the lunch menu did look tempting). Bistango in Irvine is a solid, reliable lunch spot. If the weather is nice, I like the patio at the Oak Grill in the Island Hotel near Fashion Island and the food is usually good, or the Coliseum Pool Grill at Pelican Hill could alsowork. Waterline at the Balboa Bay Club would be another option but the food there can be more hit or miss.

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Thanks! We’ll definitely get back in. I agree that it’s not drive-from-LA worthy, but the 5-mile drive/$7 Uber ride makes it a great option for us.