Restaurants & Bars

Chat Noir - Costa Mesa, OC [long]

kc girl | Oct 18, 200410:40 AM     2

I am really liking this place. Haven't seen the "see and be scene" atmosphere some spoke of, but have just gone for Sunday dinners and weekday lunches. The interior is truly "theatrical" and simply lovely.

I've read just a few other posts in the archives from posters who have dined there and those were in praise. And, one poster said the food was secondary to the other offerings there. Others, I believe, have just gone for the lounge entertianment so far. Still interested in more opinions of Chat Noir; the overall experience as well as just the food.

We went opening night (Oct. 10th) of the Philharmonic season at Segerstrom Hall (walking distance) and was pleased to see Chat Noir added halibut to their menu. I love halibut, but gave half to my little brother who had ordered sea bass. I noticed he made a face as he peeled off the full skin from the somewhat small portion of sea bass he was offered. He's 6'4" and not a voluminous or picky eater. But, still > offered some of my plate that had probably 3/4 pound of beautiful white halibut filet atop simply sauteed, full flavor spinach (not baby) and simple mashed potatoes with melon ball chunks of potato in it. Halibut was simply butter sauteed and baked to perfection. No plethora of spices, seasonings, or coatings. And, just a simple plate sauce that didn't intrude.

SIL had the spinach/artichoke crepes (dinner menu) and offered some to me after my halibut contribution to her husband. They were just toooo delicious. I am still trying to figure the spices - a little nutmeg and tarragon ?? coudn't tell exactly as they were subtle. Oooh so good.

Friend had a steak she liked that I thought was a little tough (though I had the final bite). She said it was ribe eye a few days later, but I remember hearing "flatiron" and "okay" in the ordering process. Served with the classic Bernaise sauce that I hope can be found forever. Also on her plate were dainty pomme frites with rosemary. No garlic on them as I'd heard were before.

Many items on the Char Noir menu are fairly standard traditional French dishes. I like that. Some very rich sauces let me savor each bite of them. I'm sure I could be happy dining there "on mute."

Went back a few times for lunch after that. I ordered the spinach/artichoke crepes from the lunch menu and they seemed just a bit different in seasoning than the dinner item. They may be my favorite dish there so far. Extremely rich and buttery sauce. I could only finish one after I finished the fresh sauteed green (haricort verts) and wax beans on the same plate.

Friends were praising the Seafood Louie Salad. Had one and noticed "surprises" of flavors in the somewhat julienned lettuce. Found chiffonade of basil and celery leaves in with parsley, maybe some chevril, and a littl mint? They use the very small shrimp (100 ct?), but many of them, and some fresh crab chunks and a few lobster claws. A very dainty, yet large portion salad.

The complementary French rolls are very good. Their butter service a bit whimsical.

They had a special of Osso Buco that was very good if you like lamb. I haven't been overly impressed with their soups. And, they don't try to do it all for every palate. The menu is limited and fairly standard classical French fare.

I am somewhat on a "love affair" with this place, I admit. But, it may never end.

They have four very separate and unique dining areas (and an entertainment lounge). Even one "private" table for 8 or 10, set apart from everyone in the left corner of the indoor "patio" and offering a little more tease of privacy behind a somewhat sheer drapery. I think there were other dining tables in the warm beige room, but I couldn't tell for sure as all were mixed with much large and small foilage and love seat lounging with low lites and candles. And, the elitist Green Room is staged behind a large wood and glass door. The servers were often in there on one day accessing the large wine storage glass enclosure. But, I've yet to see diners in the Green Room at the times I indulged.

The desserts I've tried haven't rocked me yet. But, the creme freche ice cream is rich and unique and a good combination with the blackberries in a warm cobbler. The creme brulee looked soo creamy, and I am anxious to have that next time.

I haven't even looked at their wine list yet.

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