Greg Daniels' introduction to the culinary world wasn't a romantic one: he started working at a fast food restaurant at age 15, followed by a stint as a bartender. Nevertheless, these jobs ignited a passion for cooking that would guide his entire life. The Le Cordon Bleu graduate now works as the executive chef at Haven Gastropub, where he has designed a menu of gourmet American and European comfort foods inspired by his travels to England, New York, and San Francisco.
The eatery is an across-the-pond extension of the gastropub movement, which began in London in the 90s. Gastropubs differ from traditional pubs in that they specialize in high-quality eats and permit only the most beautiful drinking songs. Haven, for example, serves lamb burgers on rosemary brioche buns, fries sprinkled with house-made truffle salt, and whole roasted suckling pigs.
Of course, the "pub" part of Gastropub still implies a lively bar. Bartenders pour more than a dozen draughts as well as a selection of bottled beers, red and white wines, and craft cocktails blended with house-made mixes.
Nestled inside the Bonaventure Hotel, experienced masseuses maintain 10,000 square feet of pure serenity spread across 11 treatment rooms. Cordoned off into sections for men and women, the facility flaunts amenities such as hydro-jet showers with seven pulsing showerheads and saunas fogged with soothing vapor instead of fog machines stolen from middle-school dances. Bonaventure Club plucks massage techniques from all over the globe, including Thailand where therapists stretch frames with their hands, knees, and feet to amplify the client's flexibility and energy. Pre- or post-treament, clients can unwind in a relaxation lounge stocked with Perrier water, jasmine-rose tea, and snacks, while flipping through magazines or watching a big-screen TV.
Art isn't confined to paintings and sculptures in museums and galleries. That's the idea behind Body Art Expo, a celebration of art on a different type of canvas?the body. At the traveling event, more than 200 exhibitors and thousands of guests put their tattoos and piercings on full display. Guests can enter tattoo contest for a chance to win in categories such as Best Movie Character, Best Portrait, and Most Unusual. They can also get a professional to pierce their tongue or tattoo the event's schedule on their bicep. Celebrity artists, including LA Ink's Ruthless and NY Ink's Tommy Montoya, often roam the aisles, chatting with visitors, dancing along to live music, or attending demos.
Intent on contributing to the rise of an Old World-style wine country in Temecula Valley, Rev Winery harvests grapes from more than 30 acres of vineyards to create organic, palate-friendly wines. These grapes include traditional European vinifera varietals, producing everything from syrah and merlot to cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese, but the winery embraces modern, New World-driven advancements in winemaking techniques and technologies. Rev Winery also features a robust zinfandel made from 43-year-old vines, which are easily identifiable thanks to their Nixon-Agnew presidential campaign stickers.
Gymboree offers a bevy of baby-engaging classes in which parents and wee ones work together to build tots' creativity and encourage development through play. Weekly classes are available for every age from the freshly born sapling to the 5-years-young wise wanderer. This deal includes rhythm-building music classes, imagination-expanding art classes, and Gymboree's most popular class, Play & Learn. The month-long membership allows you to take one class per week, with make-ups available during enrollment if you miss a class. This deal also includes unlimited attendance at Gymboree's open gym sessions (contact location for schedule).
The Melting Pot reigns as America's premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. At the Irvine location, pots of bubbling cheese and savory bouillon help guests cook entr?es including choice beef, ocean-fresh lobster, poultry, and vegetables. The restaurant's chocolate fondues indulge the senses, with melted chocolate sending up delicious scents as it coats seasonal fruit, cakes and brownies. These meals pair well with drinks from the Melting Pot's bar including wine by the glass and inventive martinis made by skilled mixologists.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this combination of intimate setting and innovative dinners makes the Melting Pot a popular place to celebrate special occasions. Whether they're looking for romance, marking a birthday, or honoring an anniversary, guests can expect one of the most singular evenings out in all of Irvine.