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ARC & Arrivals
Wendy Bowman | Photo: Anne Watson Photography | February 28, 2013
Step right up and see the show, folks!
Noah Blom and the staff of his newly opened ARC restaurant (3321 Hyland Ave., Ste. F, Costa Mesa, arcrestaurant.com) are preparing food and drinks, and it’s all happening right before your very eyes. There’s the freezer-bound butcher readying meats for roasting over a bonfire or wood-burning oven. And there’s the barkeep hand-chopping ice for the eatery’s custom cocktails. “The diner can see everything at every level, and it creates a show,” says the 33-year-old chef, who cut his teeth in the biz at age 14 working for Ritz Restaurant founder Hans Prager. Blom’s fiancee and business partner Marin Howarth created a dark and sexy apothecary-like interior accented with brick, wood, metal, leather, antiques and French baroque-style lighting. Rustic dishes made with locally sourced ingredients take up to four days to prepare (imagine duck confit cured in brandy and served with housemade stone fruit jam). The cocktail menu is just as unique, including drinks like Coffee & Cigarettes, with rye whiskey, Amaro Abano, Gran Classico and housemade bitters, Portola coffee grounds and, of course, a giant cube of ice. “For us, it’s more of a beautiful cohesion, bringing diners together through food, drink, music and atmosphere,” Blom says. Look for more in the future from this innovative chef, who aims to start a group of O.C. eateries in all concepts and price points…
And if you’re a beer or whiskey aficionado, then Hopscotch is the place for you. Now open in Fullerton’s original Pacific Railway Station (136 E. Commonwealth Ave., hopscotchtavern.com), it’s home to more than 100 varieties of specialty whiskey, along with 70-plus draught and bottled craft beers. Also on tap: classic cocktails, boutique wines and whiskey pairing dinners. And guests can nosh on everything from beer-braised meats to locally sourced sausages and comforting beer mac and cheese…
Prego Ristorante (18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, pregoristoranti.com) is dishing it out once again after a five-month closure due to a fire. It’s got a fresh look and renewed spirit, with Italian fare like wood-fired pizzas and fresh-made pastas cooked up in the lively exhibition kitchen and served amid streamlined arches, gleaming copper, polished hardwood floors and rich cherry wood furnishings. Mangia!