Saturday, July 24, 2010

Park Ave

Park Ave
Stanton, CA

"Stanton? The restaurant is in Stanton? Green, huh. They grow their own vegetables? They serve rabbit food? I'm not eating rabbit food."

"Don't worry, Dad, you'll like it.
And no... no rabbit food. Think of it as home-grown comfort food.
It's the red meat that beckons you, appropriately."
----------------


First off, I've been on silent retreat from Blogspot for far too long.
Evermore, I've maintained my blog offline with images and documentaries of experiences; unfortunately I haven't shared these with you.

I was diagnosed with eye strain from looking at the computer too much for work, thus I had to heal. The time is now to share something profound. Not only are these establishments worthy of notice, especially out in the boonies of Stanton, but also I am at present being broken of previous aesthetic and verbose form. I am being structured toward colloquialism. It needed to happen. No one understands what I'm saying otherwise! So here it is, my new leaf, trying to turn colloquial. What better way to practice than blog about it for my friends again!

Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you just don't know it well enough."

Park Ave's experience is something that ought to be shared.
--------------------

Early Saturday evening began with a brisk drive down Beach Blvd. This is the route we had to take to get to Knott's Berry farm in the 70s. Remember it?
6 miles down the road, we saw those glowing round bulbs, illuminating the purple and gold letters of Park Ave, with stars (!). It was then my father thought we were headed into the Jetson's.

We walked into a cozy, classy bar area, lit with starburst pendent fixtures and natural, smooth finished mahogany features. It was elegant, certainly one of those places where one could imagine Cary Grant strolling in with his gray suit and attracting some other casually elegant audience to join him for a subtle conversation.

The place was inviting, authentic.
The dining room, main, was a long entry hall, the window side lined with booths -- it used to be a coffee diner. This made sense. Now there are MR16s shining spot on the table, only to create an intimate feel rather than flooding you and your steak out of the scene. It is intimate, organic, warm, with the colors harmonizing in a neutral brown and burgundy palette.

From there it began with our waiter, Andrew. We knew he had been around a while -- not at Park Ave, but in the business. He knew his menu, was enthusiastic to share, had confidence with recommendations, read our minds... you know... he was professional. Never did we feel like he interrupted us. He had perfect timing, as did the rest of the team.

My dad was hooked as soon as the bread and butter came out. First thing I noticed about the food was that they had left their stamp. The whipped butter had not only infused lavender buds but also is had heavenly nectar whipped in. Divine. The mixture tasted best on the dinner roll of honey wheat. Other homemade sliced baguettes of their included a traditional french bread. These slices were served warm, the consistency more like dinner rolls with a crisp crust. Unusual. This is not the type of bread one would worry to fill up on; it's the butter you'd want to eat by itself. There is also a lightly salted crisp flatbread in the basket.

We brought our own wine. Silver Oak 1993 Cab. Beautiful.
It was easy to drink, medium bodied. So easy and light. I was surprised. I thought it would be full-bodied. This was perfect to start out and to finish.
Later, my dad tried the Ferrari-Carrano Cab -- that one was full-bodied and tasted like a dessert after the Silver Oak, with which I was already completely satisfied. Silver Oak is one of my favorite wines. The color was gorgeous, having hints of chocolate and slim legs that took their time.

I asked Andrew his recommendations on the salads; I had heard of the heirloom tomato bit -- being home grown -- though he recommended that we stick with our curiosity on the Warm Spinach Salad. Boy, were we happy.

Warm Spinach SaladTossed with pepper bacon, warm herb, crispies of apple
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
[$9]

I loved the dressing, it was light and had a tinge of season to it with the apple and wine. I know there was garlic in this, quite evident. The vinaigrette had little chips of apple in it, we're talking petite. I want to say there was also a bit of meaty heirloom in this. So good. Definitely a winner because this had fresh seasonal flavor, sparks, smooth body, and texturee. I'd consider this also healthy. The bacon was sparse, just enough to give it the sweetness it needed.

Now onto the entrees. I ordered the Seasonal Halibut, only because I had red meat the night before. I should have ordered the red meat though. The red are celebrated here, and they know what they're doing. It's mouthwatering.

Let's begin with the Bone-In
Bone-in Ribeye
Rosemary and Garlic Rub, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
[$30]
Mouthwatering. Prepared properly, this was done with a tender burgundy wine color riddled throughout. So tender. The steak was juicy. Don't worry about leaving hungry, this will fill you to the bone and you'll have more for later. The haricot verts provide a nice balance to the heavy meat. Everything is topped with a light drizzle of butter, including the steak. If you want to avoid the heavy stuff, try to ignore the alluring mashed potatoes, freshly mashed. You can taste the mollified state of the traditional baked potato flavor when the aromas are sharp. The potato is topped with a melted cheddar cheese. Wow.
I wasn't thinking about the potato or side, I was only consumed by the engagement with the red meat. This is a good one. I enjoyed the rosemary hints.

What was even better was the Filet Mignon, I thought.
$35 Prex
8 oz.Filet Mignon Entree
& Shrimp Scamp
Rosemary Baby Roasted Potatoes; Shrimp rubbed in Olio, Garlic, and Lemon Marinade

The bone-in ribeye is supposed to be the creme of the crop here, however I digress.
The filet mignon was prepare medium rare and had that natural juice and tenderness that was perfect for me. The ribeye I thought was too rare of a meat, but the filet mignon had more body to it and the consistency was friendlier to taste and devour -- and I'm a rare-meat girl! I could never butcher the cut. This filet mignon was cooked the same extent as the ribeye but we have here a leaner meat.

In his pre-fix, he had received a green salad, which he loved, but mine was better. He also received the chocolate flourless torte by choice, another winner... but mine was better.

You really can't go wrong with the orders here, though I must repeat: always order the red meat over the seafood. Next return, I'd like to try the Lamp Chops. I've heard good things; also the Seafood Pie.

Seasonal Alaskan Halibut
Pan seared in a light butter beurre blanc, with haricot verts
[$22]

Technically this is supposed to come on a bed of risotto, but tonight I wanted to try something from their garden. These haricot verts were fresh picked. The halibut was a good size piece, and this was PERFECT for the light meal I was looking for, healthy meal; however, the halibut was a tad overcooked, a little dry.
I mentioned it to Andrew in the end, but also that it didn't ruin my meal; there was more than enough Ribeye for us to share. The evening could not have been ruined at this point.

Andrew came over and invited us to take a garden tour. We carried out our wine glasses and strolled through the pavilion dining room overlooking the garden. This scene could have been host to weddings, occasions, etc. It was so spacious and serene. The lawn and terrain bordered by healthy, large olive trees. Park Ave harvests their own honey as well, out in Temecula. We walked through a little garden gate and entered upon their secret garden, lit by tiki torches. The beds were raised, and certainly... they grew everything. There were even 9 types of basil leaves! I enjoyed the 8 foot tall cocoa sunflowers. Beautiful, deep glow of chocolate from those sunflowers -- I'd never seen the dark side before.

Upon our return, we were affably greeted by chef Dave, who sat with us at the table for a bit as we relayed fun stories and inquired about his passion and philosophy with Park Ave. The gentleman certainly had zeal, love, and intelligence going for him in this investment and vocation. He deserves to be here and with proper accreditation. What a journey he's been on ,and look at him now with the number one restaurant in Orange County.
The funny thing is not many people know. Who from Newport Beach considers Stanton a destination?

We must learn to get past our stereotypes; you never would know the latent puissance of that dusty bottle of wine when you're all too comfortable with your new vintages until you uncork the lonely one and take part in a experience you wouldn't trade for a 100 bottles of your new vintage.

Speaking of which, we ended the night in subliminal heaven.

The Warm Fruit Crumble with Homemade Vanilla Ice cream
[$7]

The ice cream was just a scoop, just enough to tempt you and not too much to overfill you. I could have honestly tanked this entire thing. Served warm with bubbling juices beckoning from below the crust's surface, the blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries all sung with elation. The fruit crumble actually tasted healthy, full of vibrant berry flavors and body. The body of the crumble was a balanced mixture of the fruit, some crumbs, a hint of sweetness, maybe even a liqueur. This was lovely, and it was not heavy enough to make me sick. I wanted more! Easily, you could split this between three people.
Dad had a taste of the Homemade Vanilla Ice cream as well on his Flourless Chocolate Cake.The chocolate cake had a mix of ganache suspension and meringue. It was semi-moist, airy, not at all spongy. I disdain sponge cake. This was easy to devour. Try this on for an individual dessert. 


All ending on a dual note of decaf coffees, with handshakes from the staff and team, I had to say this was the best outing I've had at a dining establishment in a long time, since last year at Marche Moderne. I look forward to my return here. Park Ave is unique. It's the personality, the atmosphere, the warm invitation about it all. It's not trying to be anything it's not. It celebrates what it has and does it with authenticity.

Cheers:
The prices are affordable and people are excited about this place. It's hard to find a table now! Make reservations, quick. The secret won't last long.

-------------------
"So Dad, what'd you think? Did you like your rabbit food?"

"Good choice. You had me at the butter. After seeing the garden too, I want to bring my clients here. Let's come back.
You couldn't have picked a better place."

"Thanks Dad."
--------------
I feel loved.
All I'm saying is give it a try.

Park Ave. on Urbanspoon


1 comment:

Elyse said...

That sounds fantastic. Do they have a garden table? Keep working on colloquial - it's a tone of voice, not necessarily a vocabulary choice.