Last night Beth and I had dinner at what Zagats rates as the single best restaurant in Orange County. I won’t name names, because they were nice enough, and I don’t want to slam them. The food was good. The service was good. The wine list was excellent, though unfortunately neither of us was drinking. The seating was wonderfully spacious and private, far better than anything you’ll find in New York, where any restaurant worth eating at has crammed the seats together closer than RyanAir. But at the end of the meal our general reaction was, “That’s the best restaurant in the county?”
The meal was OK, but hardly memorable. It certainly didn’t rise to the level of world class restaurants like The Gotham in New York, Commander’s Palace in New Orleans (at least pre-Katrina; I haven’t eaten there lately and I’ve heard it may have gone downhill), or ‘t Fornuis in Antwerp. Food-wise I don’t think it matched the much less pretentious local Chaparosa Grill. Only one dish, the tuna tartare appetizer, really impressed us; and that was offset by a salad that just didn’t work. The remainder of the meal was about average for a nouvelle cuisine restaurant in this price range.
I suppose that’s only to be expected. When in New York, I wouldn’t expect to find the best restaurants in Westchester County or Long Island. Then again, for years one of the best restaurants in New Orleans was on the West Bank. Maybe we’ll have to try eating in L.A. next time. But still, you’d think there’d be room for one world class restaurant somewhere in the O.C.