palm terrace restaurant @ island hotel in newport beach
Palm Terrace Restaurant
in the Island Hotel
690 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
i am really lovin' restaurant week, dine l.a. etc... last night, a group of my friends were trying to decide where we should eat...and barry mentioned that restaurant week just started up in newport beach, so denice started pulling up the list to see what restaurant might entice us into joining them and trying some of their most popular dishes. our top choice in the beginning was blue fin, japanese cuisine, but as denice kept searching, we came upon the palm terrace's menu....which had chilean sea bass AND prime short ribs! oh mama! two of my favorites! since the rest of the group was more into watching the angel/yankee game and talking about sports, D and i made an executive decision...we were going to the palm terrace.
lets me show what was available to us for a mere $40 per person...
so many people have this misconception about fine dining...that all the portions are always super small and that they will leave hungry. well, when we went to gordon ramsay's were were all stuffed and we were definitely all STUFFED when we left the palm terrace. boy's included. if you eat here, and walk out hungry, then perhaps you are a 300 lb defensive linebacker (is that a position? haha) who loves eating smorgasbords! that's buffet to those of you who don't know what a smorgasbord is. seriously, there is plenty of food...you will not leave this place hungry. most places serve just three courses...they gave us, four courses plus a bread basket and lavosh bread! oh how i love breads... soft or crispy. hmmm...but i'll get to that in just a wee bit.
don't let the bad island style curtains deter you from eating here. in fact, i did feel the urge to sing "my favorite things" and wrap the curtain around my head and then pull them down and create outfits for my eating mates so we could climb trees and sing songs. but that's not what we came for...we came for the food. and that is what i will discuss.
pleasant surprise! parmesan and herbed lavosh bread...
served with a white bean hummus (i'm sure you can tell which one it is) and an eggplant tapenade. omg...that white bean hummus was so creamy and flavorful. and if you hate beans...oh please, you have to give this a try! it just might change your mind. the lavosh was crisp with a perfect amount of baked on parmesan cheese and a touch of herbs. it was an excellent way to start out our meal, and really so dangerous because i could eat this all day long! i wasn't as crazy about the eggplant because the sweet yellow and red pepper flavor permeated the whole dish and i don't like bell peppers that much, but it was a very tasty dish and well seasoned.
hot bread too?!
i wasn't even expecting bread too! i thought the lavosh was just a replacement of regular bread, which was terrific...but what a nice surprise. top left, pretzel bread, the right, sour dough and bottom left, cheese bread. i know this bread was served hot because we actually got our first course shortly after our bread arrived and after we ate our first course and got to the bread it was still really warm. they were all tasty breads...i just had to try a little of each because i was starting to get full already! i know...i was only at the first course!
first course, grilled cheese panini and tomato soup...
this was so cute...grilled bread with a very thin slice of brie and a couple of slices of oven roasted tomatoes. i wished the slice of brie was thicker to balance out the amount of bread we had. the tomatoes were so big and a little tough to chew through, so when you took a bite of it, that whole slice came right out and slapped your chin, and you had to quickly get it in your mouth so you don't have this big red slice of tomato hanging from your lips. kind of like when you eat onion rings and you can't get through the onion and the whole slice comes out of the batter and burns your chin if its super hot. does this happen to any of you or am i the only person that this happens to. if i am the only one, i wouldn't be surprised...but laura did in fact have the same issue with the tomato that i experienced.
the soup was chilled and very light. it didn't have a super intense tomato flavor, but i wondered if there was a bit of chicken stock in there as well. it was nice. for a first course, i thought it was quite large...especially since we had another small course coming.
next up was our caesar salad fondue and truffled mac n' cheese.
cute presentation, but not the easiest way to eat it. the crisp hearts of romaine leaves were fun to dip into the dressing at the bottom of the dish it was stuffed into. dressing was simple, and yes, i did add a touch of s & p once i ate most of the leaves and made some room in there.
i love black truffles and was super excited to try the mac n' cheese. you can see that the noodles don't look super cheesy or creamy. so it was a little on the drier side, and made you wish that it was coated more heavily in creamy cheese. not till you hit the bottom of the dish was there more cheese that you could mix your noodles into. that would be the down fall of this dish...not enough cheese. great idea, foods people love, but it just needed a bit more help to take it to the next level. at this point, i was seriously content and would've been fine if i didn't eat more...but we had two more course coming.
out comes our entress...
denice and dave ordered the potato crusted chilean seabass with the orange reduction and fresh dill. the crust seemed to be seasoned but the fish itself didn't. so it needed some help. it felt like the fish was a bit overcooked, it was too firm. it did not flake easily...and you really needed a knife for this. if only they had seasoned it more and not overcooked it...its such a shame. i had ordered extra sauce for my short ribs, so i mixed in a bit of butter to "soften" the sauce and ate it with the fish which was something it desparately needed.
the real star of the meal...
these short ribs were braised in rum and pepper for 30 hours. whoa! 30 hours! ok, let me talk about short ribs for a moment. i typically love them falling off the bone and really saucey, and when i saw it cut up on my plate like that, i immediately thought of my experience at ad hoc, one of thomas keller's restaurants up in napa valley. we had short ribs braised, cut up, seared and served to us family style. and God help me, i love thomas keller and his food, but i was not at all impressed with his short ribs...and that made me really sad. last night's ribs were so tender, well seasoned and just a joy to eat. there was a simple potato puree and a melange of fresh vegetables.
as i mentioned earlier, i asked for extra sauce...this wasn't your typical red wine veal stock reduction. it tasted strongly of soy sauce and was in fact a bit salty to me. it was fine, but lacked the richness you get from a really great veal stock reduction. in order to mellow out the saltiness, i added the butter to kill it. not only did it mellow it out, but it also thickened the sauce up nicely. overall though, what a great dish. i know i like to make my own little changes to things to create that perfect bite, but this meat was so well cooked. i was so full, but could not bear to waste any of this tender meat, so besides having shared some of the ribs, i forced myself to eat the last piece. *oink oink*
omg...one more course...dessert. chocolate heaven.
starting at the top, a demitasse of rich hot chocolate, in the middle, chocolate mousse on a gianduja crust (chocolate and hazelnut), bottom, chocolate sorbet.
you know, i woke up this morning and felt like i could still taste the chocolate and i seriously wanted to eat this...again. the hot chocolate was warm and just slightly thick, but wasn't overly sweet. that chocolate mousse with the crispy gianduja crust was so nice especially when paired with a bit of the unsweetened whipped cream. you could really taste the hazelnuts in there...that was so good. and omg...that chocolate sorbet! holy moly!! it was such a creamy, wonderful chocolate flavor, more on the milk chocolate side and not too sweet at all. typically sorbets have no air whipped into which creates a more dense and flavor packed product. which is very true in this case. wow...i seriously could eat any of this dessert again right now as i'm talking about it!
so, who cares about what a place looks like when the food is great?! i don't. (really, it was just the curtains) what a great evening of catching up with friends and enjoying such a wonderful and memorable meal. though we had a couple of misses, or at least a couple of dishes that needed just a bit more help, overall, the concepts were good and the food was tasty. i would like to return and try their crab ravilolis. (i believe it was crab) but if not, i'd come back just to eat the short ribs because that is a staple on their menu. if you can come during restaurant week, i urge you to do it. the fish and the beef are typically $33 each as entrees (or something close to that). this meal was a steal at $40! take advantage and check it out! especially if you love chocolate...so amazing!
had a terrific time! thank you denice, barry, laura and dave!