My trips back to the OC are a whirlwind of work – lunch with friends – work dinner with friends – work lunch with friends – rinse and repeat.
My first night in town I headed to the Crow Bar and Kitchen in Corona del Mar to meet up with Marita (a friend from my Freshman/Sophomore boarding school days), her charming husband, and her adorable new baby girl. Bonus: Marita and Dave are seriously into food.
The Crow Bar is a godsend for the Orange County too many chain restaurant scene. It’s a gastropub with a worthy wine and beer list and a knack for turning out naughty food.
The wine list posed a delicious dilemma: an Italian Soave or a Spanish Albarino? On our server’s recommendation, the Soave was chosen. Light, crisp, fruity but not sweet, a perfect summer wine and a solid accompaniment to the grilled artichoke appetizer.
The menu held an unexpected surprise – fried fabulousness worthy of Indianapolis’s Mug ‘n Bun but with a haute cuisine twist: Mac ‘n cheese Bites: Fried spheres filled with Mac n’ cheese – gruyere? cheese that is – served on a base of marinara sauce and topped with arugula.
Monday nights mean duck fat fried chicken. A generous serving of crispy fried chicken with a spicy slaw that will make even coleslaw haters happy campers.
If it’s not Monday night, the crow “black label” burger is beyond worthy. Order it hangover style with a runny egg and cheese on top and you may never eat a burger elsewhere again.
Duck fat fries served with a rich aioli are a must with the burger, but the sweet potato fries are also a solid selection for a sweet/savory contrast.
With offerings such as “not just a ding dong,” “s’mores sundae” and “bananas foster bread pudding” the dessert selection is impressive, but the “pretzel peanut butter cup” stood out. A salty pretzel crust topped with peanut butter semifredo, covered with belgian chocolate granache and topped with pretzel praline – sweet ‘n salty heaven.