Archive for the ‘steaks and chops’ Category

Spaced Out at Park Ave.

November 11, 2009

When you are perusing your mental Rolodex for fine dining in OC, you may think of Newport, Laguna, CDM, even Costa Mesa.  Many restaurateurs will do anything to be there,  even if that means operating contortionist-style out of a  kitchen slightly larger than an elevator with a dining room the size of a bookmobile.

 Bet you don’t think about Stanton when planning that special fête. In a wasteland of dilapidated Googie-style motels along Beach Blvd. that serve as lodging for probationers sits a  handsomely revamped  58 Buick of a structure known for the past five years as Park Ave.

90680 doesn’t fall into the McMonigle Group profile for luxury real estate holdings to be sure, but it really doesn’t matter once you step inside. Located on a sprawling acre with two dining rooms, a private park and adjoining garden rife with Carnival carrots and heirloom tomatoes, Park Ave. puts Stanton on the map as a culinary destination much like Zov Karamardian did with Zov’s Bistro in Tustin in the late eighties.PARK AVE 012

Chef and managing partner David Slay formerly of La Veranda in Beverly Hills presides over the entire production including a dimly lit bar full at lunch with a corpulent bunch nursing sidecars under the glow of its Sputnik-style starburst lighting. But novelty architecture and kitchy cuisine are two different things.  The food at Park Ave. never feels gimmicky or dated.

 Slay has put together a staff who make most everything on the straightforward menu from scratch. Meals start with lavender honey butter (they have their own gardener and  bee keeper)  and slices of crackling, thin crusted baguettes made in-house that release soft, moist, cotton candy-textured insides.

 Grilled calamari: a few seconds too long and you have a steel-belted Goodyear on a plate. Yet each time I had the grilled calamari  and artichoke in delicate garlic and lemon sauce under Slay’s nuanced watch, the former had a supple, tender texture.   
 A  sandwich that consisted of a wan chicken breast laying on two slices of walnut bread with grilled romaine and bland tomato relish was a disappointment on one day, pushed on me by an experienced server who was perhaps engaging in a staff contest to sell out a recently added special.

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Carnival carrots at Park Ave.

Steaks and chops dominate the menu, but the seafood is worth special mention. Maine scallops are as big as cupcakes, tender and sweet, barely seared in a grain mustard pan jus and served on a bed of  creamy, savory edamame succotash. A salmon filet baked with a sinus-clearing five spice blend and drizzled in an elegant hot mustard sauce is lovely with moist freshwater pearls of scallion brown rice and spinach. I scream for the refreshing homemade ice cream that packs just enough butterfat to remind you of a Michoacan nevería.  Not so much the pistachio with its gummy nuts but the exuberant fresh ginger, yes!

 Park Ave. 11200 Beach Blvd. Stanton 714.901.4400 www.parkavedining.com. Dinner for two, $60.00, food only.

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