My wife and I went to The Crow Bar and Kitchen in Corona Del Mar on Friday night, and were completely blown away by everything. The first thing you need to know about this place is that it refers to itself as a “gastro-pub” – the food is fantastic and worthy of an upscale place, but the atmosphere is loud, raucous, and a total blast. Now, this place has only been open since the day after Thanksgiving, and it was completely packed when we rolled in slightly after six – incredible for a place that’s barely been around. Just as incredible was the service here – our waiter kicked all kinds of butt (seriously, ask to sit in Davis’s section); he was knowledgeable about everything on the menu, was completely spot on with his food and drink pairing suggestions, and was completely engaging without being intrusive. Everything was like clockwork, to the point that we kept having to remind ourselves that it had only been open for about a dozen weeks or so. And the food rocked. We started off by ordering a “pot of pickles,” a wonderful assortment of pickles, turnips, asparagus, and other goodies of that ilk soaked in the chef’s own homemade brine. I’m not one who normally digs on that kind of thing, but we got it because my wife wanted it, and I’ll tell you, I can subsist on the stuff for weeks. They have a great selection of cheeses to nosh on – I recommend the Mine Shaft blue and the St. Regis from France (creamier than brie) – and they pair it with some really nice fruit and nut pestos, curries, and pastes. In addition (yes, we pigged out), we ordered a round of panko-battered Vidalia onion rings served with a buttermilk dipping sauce. Normally, I’d be touting how great they were, but if there is one side you have to get, it would have to be their duck fat fries. Yep – fries cooked in duck fat, baby! I don’t know how damaging that is to my arteries; frankly, I don’t want to know. They were so dang good. As far as the entrees go, my wife went with the ahi niciose burger, while I ordered the classic Cubano sandwich. Both were fantastic. Her burger had a smoky, grilled tinge to the taste which made it wildly flavorful, and my Cubano was everything that a Cuban sandwich should be – pressed thin, smoky, with a subtle sweet tang. For dessert, her sticky toffee pudding was absolutely delicious, but not as good as my “not just a ding dong,” homemade (right down to the filling), and had a dark chocolate taste. Freakin’ great. Oh, and the beers at this place rule, too. Forget about grabbing a Bud, Coors, or any one of those college age “practice beers,” this place thrives on selling you beer best found in the back section of your local BevMo. My wife, who’s not much a beer drinker, enjoyed a Hoegarden witte beir from Belgium that was fruity, light, and is probably going to take up residence in our fridge soon, and I got a dark beer called an old Rasputin that knocked me flat on my butt. Good times.
Obviously, we ate like we hadn’t eaten in a week. For more sensible palates, you could probably get out of there by around $40-$75. It’s totally worth checking out; just make sure you call ahead to get a table – they fill up fast!
The crow bar and kitchen
2325 east coast highway
corona del mar, california 92625