Had lunch at the new restaurant by Yvon Goetz, who was the chef at the Dining Room of the RItz Carlton, Laguna Niguel in its heday. It's a freestanding building in the new shopping area by the old blimp hangars in Tustin. There's the usual assortment of stores, including the recently discussed Whole Foods, a Costco, and Lowes.
Room itself is fairly open in design, mixture of tan colors and dark woods, but still with an airy feel. Chairs are fairly comfortable, but booths feel somewhat cramped. Weird sign behind the hostess station states "Dress Code Enforced" but I'm assuming that's for night, as there were people there in shorts / scrubs / tshirts in addition to the usual business lunch crowd.
Service was friendly but uneven, with problems replacing silverware. My dining companion had to twice end up having to reach over to the next booth to get it herself.
Bread basket had an assortment of warm herb rolls (good) and olive breadsticks and a flat cheese crisp (the last two incredibly stale and awful)
Apps were a warm corn bisque with scallops (very good, except for one scallop that tasted off (bay scallops)) and the lump crabmeat ravioli which came out on the raw side of al dente with cold crabmeat inside that was closer to a seafood salad than "lump". Sent this back, and it came out again with the plate itself searing hot, one of the ravioli lukewarm, and the rest still cold in the center. Oh well, we are in Tustin, so we just moved on.
Mains were the pan seared halibut with manila clams in a white wine sauce and the prime NY steak frites. The halibut was fine, cooked correctly, but the clams were missing in action, and the sauce was strangely bland. The steak was fine, cooked MR as requested, and had good flavor, but didn't quite seem "prime" to me. Shoestring herbed fries were very good. Portion sizes were quite large for lunch.
Dessert was the warm apple tart tartin, and this had to be the worst I have ever had. Normally I am the least picky when it comes to dessert, but this came out looking like a dark brown mush of applesauce sitting on top of a half baked wafer, and tasted not tart (which I'm fine with), but sour and bitter. It was also cold in the middle, which seems to be a recurring problem. The ice cream was the only edible part.
I also had a glass of Provenance cab with my steak, which was fine. However, for a place that bills itself as "The Winery" it's list of wines by the glass is truly pitiful- something like 6-7 reds, and 6-7 whites. The wine list itself, which is presented with a little fanfare, consists pretty much of your standard suspects- far niente, ferrari carrano, caymus, etc. and seems somewhat unispired. Markup seems to be around the standard 2.5x.
Total for lunch was 100- including tip, with the tart removed. Decent, nothing special.
Also, there is construction going on, and the access points in and out of the area were very congested and choked up. Hopefully this improves.
All in all, won't be rushing back anytime soon. Maybe some of the service and food issues will get ironed out and I'll try again in a few months. They do have a nice website, though.
The Winery Restaurant
Park Pl, Irvine, CA 92620
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