(Note: Additional photos can be seen via the link below.)
J. and I continued our culinary anniversary weekend by having a leisurely lunch in Aliso Viejo. Aliso Viejo is a little community near Dana Point. Pretty, upper middle class, and clean, we have found some great dining choices in the area.
One place that J. adores is Opah. Determined to have a nice lunch on a patio somewhere, Opah was a natural choice.
We arrived around 12:30 PM with reservations in hand, but not needing them as there were only a handful of tables that were occupied. We were taken to a table outside with a view of the rest of the mall and accompanying flora. It was a beautiful day and we ordered our drinks. J. had an Iced Tea ($2.50) and I had my signature Diet Coke ($2.00). A small basket of fresh bread was brought while we reviewed the menus.
After much back and forth about an appetizer, we decided on Opah's Tower of Parmesan Sweet Potatoes ($10.00). For our entrees, J. went for the Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli ($16.00) and I heard the Pesto Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($10.00) calling my name.
As we waited, the patio started filling up fast and we were soon surrounded by groups of people all enjoying a cool SoCal day. The noise level, however, was quite manageable and we never had to strain to hear each other.
Our appetizer arrived and it dominated the table. The Tower of Parmesan Sweet Potatoes was quite the dramatic presentation as a metal skewer rose into the air and deep fried sweet potato chips were punctured by the metal and stacked. They had then been sprinkled with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.
We each grabbed a chip and quickly set it on our plates as they were piping hot. They were served with a side of a delicious chipotle ranch sauce. I cut a piece of my first chip and dipped it into the sauce. The potato was crunchy on the outside with a soft interior. The chips had been cut thick enough that they held together well. The sauce was cold and creamy, but I could have used a bit more chipotle. J. was also enjoying the chips and we worked our way through about 3/4th of the tower before deciding to save room for our lunch.
I am glad we stopped when we did because our entrees were at our table the minute I put my final chip in my mouth. J. was pleased when the plate of Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli were set down. A large platter holding eight big ravioli were covered with a sage butter sauce and sprinked with arugala, mushrooms, chunks of butternut squash and pumpkin seeds. It smelled wonderful. J. said the taste mix was very good and savored each bite. J. said the pasta was perfectly cooked and the dish was quity filling. I knew J. was thoroughly enjoying it because I was never offered a bite. Thank goodness I had a therapy session when I got back to Phoenix.
My sandwich was also substantial in size. The large chicken breast had been topped with sliced tomatoes, slices of mozzarella and drizzled with a basil aioli. This was all served on a split ciabatta bun. Off to the side were a huge portion of shoestring potatoes. Due to the size of the sandwich and the aioli, I decided to tackle my lunch with a knife and fork.
The chicken was excellent. It was tender, moist, and had a nice char taste from the grill. The tomatoes and mozzarella were both very fresh, especially the cheese which was very creamy and made the dish. The basil aioli was an outstanding complement to the chicken. The bread was very nice with its soft texture.
The shoestring fries were crisp, hot and tasty, but I didn't do them justice because I was filling up fast. I will note, however, that while they were good, they could have been stellar with a sprinkling of Parmesan or seasoned salt.
We both were unable to finish all of our meals due to their size, but we did enjoy them. Our bill was presented and the total was $43.64 including tax. Service was very attentive and our glasses were never allowed to run dry.
Opah is not the best restaurant in Aliso Viejo. It does, however, have some good menu choices and the service was excellent. J. loves the place and I would go back again.
Maybe next time, J. will even offer me a bite of the ravioli.
26851 Aliso Creek Road
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Dress: Business Casual
Notes: Other locations in Irvine and Rancho Santa Margarita