Having re-read Elmomonster's review of the restaurant recently, I chose French 75 Brasserie in Irvine as the location for my company's X-mas lunch, but with a few non-Chowish eaters among the group, I wasn't sure how it was gonna go. Fortunately, it seemed like most everyone found something they liked on the menu and enjoyed their meals.
I ordered the rock-shrimp beignets for an appetizer. Never having tried beignets before, but reading about them for the first time recently, I was eager to try it, but I don't think I got what I was expecting. I had read that beignets are more like pastries, almost like doughnuts, while what I got were more like crispy fried popcorn shrimp. It was quite tasty and came with a remoulade dipping sauce which was quite good. It looked good enough that everyone seated around me took a couple of the shrimp pieces, and one of my co-workers liked it so much that he ordered another one for himself.
As for the entree, I ordered the prosciutto wrapped scallops, with butternut squash risotto, sage, and butter. This was absolutely heavenly, but then I've rarely met a scallop that I didn't like. :-)
The prosciutto was very thinly sliced, but precisely wrapped around each piece of scallop. That added a slight crispiness that you don't normally get when biting into scallops, and it was absolutely fantastic. The risotto was a nice balance to the rich and heavenly scallops. My only knock against the dish is that they only gave me 4 scallops, which disappeared so quickly that I was almost ready to order another plate of it.
Didn't get to see what everyone else around my table ordered, but I saw one other co-worker order the same scallops. Two settled for salads, one ordered the croque monsieur (that's ham and cheese sandwich for the non-French dining crowd), one flat-iron steak, one steak tartare (which I got to sample a piece for the first time, and it was entirely different than what I expected), and one trout.
Considering that the boss complemented me for an excellent restaurant choice for the X-mas lunch, and nobody yelled at me afterwards, I figure everyone seemed happy with the lunch. :-)
While the prices are moderately high (all lunch entrees in the $12-18 range), and the portions are a bit small, what lacked in quantity was well made up in quality. I don't know if I'll add French 75 Brasserie to my regular rotation of restaurants, but it certainly moves to the top of the list for special occasions, business lunches, or out-of-town guests who want a taste of finer dining in OC. I now know why some people picked this place in the recent favorite OC restaurants poll.
French 75 Brasserie
13290 Jamboree Rd