Executive chef Thomas Crijns of Brussels Bistro teams up with fellow Belgian Philippe De Smedt and French restaurateur Thierry Perreau to give his seasonally inspired menu of Belgian-style cuisine a French twist, earning the restaurant recognition as one of the 2012 Top 10 Orange County Bistro Restaurants in Gayot and named Best French Fries in 2008 in OC Weekly for their signature side with dipping sauces. With live jazz music each Tuesday through Thursday and DJs spinning music under pulsing colored lights Fridays and Saturdays, it is not surprising that OpenTable also took notice of the spot and awarded Brussels Bistro the Diners Choice for Late Night Find.
While known for its late night offerings, Brussels Bistro features a menu of lunch fare including quiche Lorraine packed with gruyere cheese, tomatoes, and bacon and savory ham-and-cheese crepes. Diners may opt to share their bountiful pots of mussels and Belgian-style fries on the sunny outdoor terrace while sipping one of nine Belgian beers on tap or 15 bottled varieties each served with a signature glass etched with its family tree.
At Romeo Cucina, the chef prepares fresh pastas daily, from gnocchi to stuffed ravioli and tortellini, alongside a menu of pizzas and other Italian specialties such as veal scaloppini and linguine with fresh clams and mussels. Both eateries also share a similar inviting d?cor, with white linen-covered tables along with Italian-inspired art on warm yellow or exposed brick walls.
Laguna Florist's arrangers heft more than two decades of experience crafting nature into art by assembling seasonal bouquets and meticulous custom arrangements. Each of the three freshly cut Christmas bouquets measures 12.5"x9.5" and is set in a square, red glass vase that can later be reused as a lantern to guide Rudolph back to homes in the off-season. Other floral arrangements ($20–$25 average) can be purchased as gifts or to brighten living spaces. Customers can collaborate with the shop's resident floral artists to invent imaginative custom arrangements from handpicked flowers. The shop's helpful staff is also happy to explain helpful plant-care tips used by the pros to increase rose longevity and to train venus flytraps to belch the alphabet.
Housed in a historical home, The Cottage Restaurant has charmed diners for the past 35 years with a garden view overlooking the Laguna surf and a menu of elegant breakfast and supper fare. More than 30 egg creations, such as eggs florentine ($13.75) and a chicken-fajita omelette ($11.25), conquer morning plates, and chefs toy with fresh ingredients, traditional recipes, and ancient sorcery to create stacks of homemade pancakes bedecked in a spectrum of flavors, including cranberry orange ($6.30 for four) and blueberry buckwheat ($8.30 for four). Lunchtime feasters can indulge in charbroiled salmon resting on a bed of rice and crisp vegetables ($10.25), or mouth-dive into a french dip sandwich nurtured by tender roast beef ribbons and swaddled with savory au jus ($10.25). Dinner commences with crispy bruschetta ($7.25) or succulent salmon and crab cakes ($8.95) before waiters parade to tables armed with a slew of fresh salads, pastas, and giant inflatable Snoopys.
At Mozambique Restaurant, spice savants infuse artfully arranged platters with the exotic zest of South African cuisine, hatching a diverse menu of grilled steaks, seafood, and specialty platters. Sealed in by the flickering caress of a hardwood grill, savory juices seek shelter inside a 9-ounce center-cut filet mignon ($34), and pearled couscous cradles fresh cuts of wild salmon cloaked in a saffron wine sauce ($22). Transport tongues to foreign shores with a starter plate of shelled peri-peri prawns ($12) before diving fork-first into the piquant tides of seafood curry, which arrives stacked with shrimp, lobster, and scallops ($27). Set the mood for a first date or send a message to rival grapes by ordering from a cavalcade of aged wines, which includes white, red, and full-bodied selections.