Although he specializes in American comfort fare, Executive Chef Diego Velasco wields a packed cabinet of culinary styles and spices, elevating meetings and cocktail parties to a higher gastronomic plane with custom menus crafted from many fresh, locally sourced ingredients.. Midday meals get a savory infusion from the corporate-catering lunch menu, which includes a signature sandwich tray ($54 for 16 half-sandwiches)—a selection of up to four of the various bread-bookended taste-fests, which include a brisket po boy. The hot lunch buffet ($14.95/person for 15–50 guests, $13.50/person for 50+ guests) offers a flavorful cornucopia of meatloaf, ribs, and cornmeal-fried catfish. Appetizers by the dozen grace the à la carte menu and include the grilled scallop lollipops with saffron aioli ($26), and the mashed-potato pancakes with American caviar ($22), a laid-back affront to the snobbishly monocled Caspian variety. Chef Velasco's epicurean enthusiasm runs rampant throughout the entree offerings, which include buttermilk fried chicken, and grilled leg of lamb accented by pineapple-mint vinaigrette.
Inside Chapter One: The Modern Local, high, lofted ceilings, geometric light fixtures, and chunky wooden furnishings complement Executive Chef David Martinico's menu of seasonal contemporary cuisine. Patrons clink glasses of handpicked brews or craft cocktails⎯such as the restaurant's signature moscow mule⎯as they dine on locally sourced produce and humane meat. Meals draw on flavors from across the globe: étoufée fries covered in spicy Cajun roux bespeak a New Orleans influence, and yakisoba stir-fries and a housemade sausage topped in kimchi import East Asian tastes. The Frank Sinatra–themed Sunday brunch pairs classic dishes such as brioche french toast with bacon-bourbon bloody marys and other creative drinks. Chapter One: the modern local also breaks up up the drudgery of the workweek with regular events such as charity bingo, jazz performances, and a fortnightly burning of uncomfortable business shoes.
Though each Auld Dubliner storefront is lettered in the same size-300 Irish Gaelvetica font, it must also meet the stringent level of pub authenticity required by co-owner and Gaelic strongdrinker David Copley. A native of Limerick, Ireland, Copley might share a dirty poem if you ask nicely, but he's more likely to tell you that every part of his pub's polished wood and brass décor was designed and crafted in Ireland and transported piece-by-piece to its new American home. The Auld Dubliner's oaken ornamentation of barrels, bar counters, hefty wood tables, faux-oil lamps, and Guinness posters galore makes it easy to tuck right into a menu of toothsome Erin edibles such as shepherd's pie with ground beef and lamb, baked with mashed potatoes ($12.95), or the for-more-than-St.-Patty's-Day corned beef and cabbage ($12.95). Other fare that comes with a shamrock stamp of approval includes the traditional boxty (a potato pancake) stuffed with delights including Irish bacon and melted cheddar ($13.95) or Atlantic salmon with shallots and tarragon ($13.95). Slightly haute-seared classics strut their stuff as well, including Angus-beef pub burgers ($9.50), a seared tuna salad with Asian coleslaw ($12.95), and the mega-vegetarian ploughman's sandwich with grilled eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and pretty much everything else that grows from the ground on ciabatta with horseradish mayo ($8.95). For a finish as sweet as a "yes" from Molly Bloom, the Irish-whiskey crème brûlée adds a twist to a traditional dessert by turning it into crème brûlée.
Modeled after an Old World wine cellar, WineStyles's shelves are lined with rare bottles accrued by its staff of in-house experts hailing from quality vineyards across the globe. The shop's bounty includes handcrafted gift boxes and baskets and merchandise, such as guidebooks for translating secret codes etched in cork. Along with retailing wine and imbibing gear, WineStyles's crew grants guests the opportunity to sample new pours at frequent events and two-hour tastings three nights a week. For dedicated aficionados, the chief wine taster chooses two bottles to send to wine-club members along with tasting notes that detail their origins, a winery description, and suggested food pairings.
At Café Tu Tu Tango, edibles and art merge with far more dynamism than your average still life. Paintings and brick pillars surround the tables, where pizzas decked in pears and brie flank the miniature campfires of tabletop s'mores. Murals and mosaics fill the space beneath counters, and plush sofas on the patio replace the chairs and moss-covered motorcycles of traditional outdoor seating. Even the napkins "are a rainbow of jewel toned colors," reports The Food Channel's "Raves & Faves" feature, which labels the restaurant's design "pure local artist eclectic." The review documents the café's other artistic quirks, including the dessert menu's catalogue of painted depictions, the commissioned artists who compose their opuses live in the space, and the range of performers who parade through the restaurant, from belly dancers to balloon artists.
The kitchen makes its own chicken and beef empanadas alongside six types of skewers, which spear meats such as salmon, shrimp, and steak. A classic sangria recipe complements bites of roasted pears or mango-duck quesadillas, and seven specialty pizzas bake in a brick oven. To top off an original lunch date, groups can visit nearby attractions such as Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center.
After memorizing the menu, start a food-eating contest with yourself by devouring a basket of chili-cheese fries (shoestring fries, $2.99, plus jack-and-cheddar chili mix, $1.29) or sixteen Angel wings tossed in your choice of one or two sauces (buffalo, blazing habanero, firecracker, Thai peanut, spicy barbecue, garlic parmesan, or blasphemy, $14.99). For the main event, chow down on a pulled-pork sandwich ($9.99), or the dos tacos, stuffed with steak or chicken and lettuce, cheddar and jack cheeses, and salsa inferno, and served with a side of tortilla chips and salsa ($7.49). Burgers, wraps, and pizzas fill out the remainder of the robust menu.