Even in the morning, Clearman's Steak 'n Stein Inn takes its name seriously. The brunch menu lists five cuts that form the centerpiece for steak-and-egg platters, and the steak lover's omelet comes filled with three: filet mignon, new york strip steak, and rib eye. As for the "steins," drafts of Hefeweizen and Stella Artois begin pouring as soon as the restaurant opens.
Evening heralds the arrival of the restaurant's romantic side. A circular fireplace warms a ring of plush crimson benches, and soft, amber lighting illuminates the dark wood and brick interior and its stained-glass windows. An open charcoal fire roasts steaks, fish, and chicken for ample entrees, from the 16-oz. boneless rib eye to the Australian lobster tail dinner. Combination dinners allow guests to sample both steak and seafood without taking their backyard grill on a fishing trip. Supper ends with carefully hand-fired desserts, such as cr?me br?l?e cheesecake.
At Maderas Steak & Ribs, kitchen commanders craft a menu with hefty steaks forged from Kansas prime Angus beef. To sustain flavor throughout meals, in-house pastry chefs fill crumbly crusts with pie or cheesecake swirled with fresh fruit and juices.
Neon lighting grants old-timey-diner appeal to the spacious tables and cushy booths of Maderas's big, kid-friendly room, through which live music occasionally wanders on Friday and Saturday nights and whenever forks happen to clang melodically against glassware or mom's glass chewing-gum dispenser.
Perched atop the hills of its namesake, Orange County Mining Co. pairs an eight-part champagne brunch with 19th-century nostalgia, as wagon wheels and cacti impart a rugged prickle to the restaurant's cozy atmosphere. The brunch offerings warm diners with carved prime rib and ham, cheese blintz, and other toasty tastes, before cooling palates with iced shrimp, snow crab legs, and lox. Ravenous miners can pile culinary ore into made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, and waffles, or gather steam with tamales and menudo at executive chef Horacio Barragan's Mexican station. To cap off appetites, baked delicacies and other sweets are either devoured or skewered for a dunk in the chocolate fountain.
Named after a French WWI airplane, Nieuport 17 pays homage to aviation, displaying a dense collection of flight-themed artifacts and artwork amid dark-wood panels, low lighting, and crackling fireplaces. The food, however, is just as impressive as the decor. The restaurant's tuna tartare was one of OC Weekly's 100 favorite dishes of 2013, and CBS2 named the lemon sour-cream pie one of its best summer desserts. And those are just a few of the dishes that come out of Nieuport 17's kitchen, headed by executive chef Cody Storts.
A Culinary Calling
In 2013, OC Metro magazine named Storts one of the best chefs in Orange County. The graduate of LA's Le Cordon Bleu began his journey in the front of the house, though. It was only after bartending and managing at various area restaurants that he realized the kitchen was his calling.
A self-proclaimed "kitchen ninja," Storts relishes the challenge of unusual ingredients and unexpected pairings. This approach helped him craft the menus at a number of celebrated eateries. After appearing in several guest-chef events at Nieuport 17, he eventually took the helm.
Here, he holds weekly tasting events, testing ingredients and recipes before adding them to the menu. At his side are the self-titled Culinary Militia, Storts' trusted band of chefs, pastry makers, and mixologists.
The Golden Spur delivers delectable steak and seafood dishes directly to digesters in a charming, historic Route 66-inspired environment. Midday meals include the jumbo shrimp cocktail, served over Cajun slaw ($11.95), the baked french-onion soup, crusted with a gruyere-cheese crouton ($5.95, $1 for cheese), and the classic walk-around, its new-york steak strolling to tables amidst grilled sourdough, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mayonnaise ($14.95). Or take a break from a long day translating baby talk by noshing evening eats such as frog legs breaded with Cajun-style cornmeal ($13.95), or end flavor strikes with the truffle-oil-splattered jumbo lobster ravioli ($16.95). Classic filets mignons come served in plain, peppercorn, cheese-stuffed, or bacon-wrapped varietals ($32.95 for 8 oz.), while the ahi tuna gets along swimmingly with its side of steamed white rice and vegetables ($18.95).