The restaurant's chef and owner, John Randall, employs more than 30 years of experience to grill up a wide variety of fresh seafood, certified Angus steak, and hearty sandwiches. Rev up digestion engines with one of John's starters, which include such Neptunian delights as fried calamari and smoked salmon pizza ($3.50–$9.50). Hearty entrees, such as prime rib, a swordfish sandwich, and scallop scampi, muscle out hunger ($9.95–$18.95), while a bevy of soups and salads stand on the sidelines, waiting to be tagged in if the bacon cheeseburger sprains its condiments ($4.50–$10.50). At the full bar, 15 different beers and more than 20 wines, several from California, supplement rising salivary floodwaters.
Boasting Michelin stars and three decades of culinary experience, executive chef Patrick Ponsaty pilots a team that creates upscale seafood and contemporary gourmet fare. Ponsaty’s colleagues include young chefs Gianina Dicicco and Mike Reidy, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and the New England Culinary Institute. Dishes with modern, imaginative flavors include squid-ink risotto, veal cheeks with orange-blossom mousse, and hibiscus-pomegranate consommé. Each creation is a work of visual art, too, with colorful spices, marbleized sauces, and carefully stacked ingredients arranged to resemble Rodin’s The Thinker.
History is full of illustrious matches: Antony and Cleopatra, Woody and Mia Farrow, Romeo and Master P. Today’s Groupon brings you the successor in this historic pairing lineage: wine and grilling. For $30, you’ll get $65 worth of food and drink at Firefly Grill & Wine Bar, an Encinitas eatery where grilled fare and great bottles live happily ever after in a charming fantasyland where everyone is best friends with their stomachs. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Aqua Restaurant & Lounge, located within Holiday Inn Irvine Spectrum, serves up classic American cuisine as well as gourmet specialties. In the morning, breakfast platters and cups of RainForest Alliance coffee give diners enough energy to race a taxi on foot on the way to work. Later on, chefs prepare heirloom salads and signature dishes such as the Philly West, a gourmet riff on the philly cheesesteak that pairs shaved filet mignon with housemade Jack Daniels au jus and melted provolone. A full bar, 50-inch plasma TV, and sleek decor round out the hotel-lounge experience.
Bartenders mix more than 30 specialty martinis at Lounge 33, a riverside bar that owes its sophistication to owners Angela and George Tavaglione. The owners’ extensive menu of mixed drinks includes nods to highbrow entertainment, including The Godfather, a drink that fuses Johnnie Walker Green Label and Disaronno amaretto, or the Dirt and Spice martini, an avant-garde combination of Absolut Peppar and olive juice, Tapatio hot sauce, and lemon. Though the focus is on mixed drinks, the Tavagliones also stock wine and beer, while their skilled cooks prepare flatbread pizzas and italian meatball sandwiches guaranteed not to pop a meatball out and send it rolling to the top of Mount Smokey.
At Aces Comedy Club, a rotating lineup of local and touring standup comedians flocks to the stage to unpack its bag of funnies. The calendar of upcoming performers includes Patrick Deguire (May 10–13), a vision-impaired jokester who often pokes fun at needing his four kids to help him cross a dangerous intersection in his neighborhood. The freakishly talented Taylor Williamson (May 17–20) is the youngest comic ever to perform on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He's been featured on NBC's Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, and MTV's TRL––all of which were cancelled soon thereafter, which he wears as a badge of pride. Seasoned funnyman Vince Morris (May 24–27), who has made appearances on HBO's Sex and the City and BET's ComicView, simultaneously splits sides and challenges perceptions with a chuckle-inducing routine packed with social commentary.