Thursday, May 27, 2010

Around the World in One Meal at Chaparosa Grill

Chaparosa Grill and Spiritz
30271 Golden Lantern
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Looking for something different, and not wanting to stray too far from home, Katie and I headed to Chaparosa Grill in Laguna Niguel. I had been to the old location of Chaparosa Grill a long time ago, and remembered liking it, but not enough to remember what I had eaten. On this Tuesday night, there are about five tables occupied in the restaurant, and the bar is little more crowded.

Chef Tony Corke has created a very unusual menu for our area, one that is Caribbean inspired. He is an English trained chef, who has spent a great deal of time in the islands of the Caribbean, and that seems to be where he draws his inspiration. There are other influences here as well, mainly Italian and Asian as well. Let's see if this mish-mash of a menu works well or not.

Sorry, for the blurriness of the picture, here we have the Strawberry Gorgonzola Salad. This was Katie's salad, served with balsamic dressing. Katie liked her salad, but thought that it needed more dressing on it. We both thought they were generous with the amount of cheese and caramelized walnuts that were on this salad.

My salad was the Chaparosa Dinner Salad. This is your basic dinner salad that you will find anywhere. This really needed more blue cheese dressing on it. After I got more dressing, this salad became better.

For an appetizer we went with the Asian Nachos. These composed of wonton chips, cheese, peanuts, Thai-marinated chicken, and a wasabi cream sauce. The top layer of this was good. As we got down to the bottom, the Thai sauce that was marinating the chicken was way too sweet. Also, some extra cheese would have been good on this. The wasabi cream sauce was not prevalent in this.

Katie has not had good luck with scampi lately, and Chaparosa's Shrimp Scampi is no exception. This bland dish was served over angel hair pasta, with capers in a lemon-white wine sauce. Garlic was nowhere found in this offering. Katie liked it, but felt mislead by the scampi claim of this dish. She would have been satisfied more if they would have called this what it was, shrimp served over angel hair pasta. I personally would have liked this a little better if the sauce was a little thicker.

Lastly, was my entree. I went with one of their Caribbean Specialties, the Bahama Beef. This is sautéed filet mignon, with a green onion and sweet chili sauce, served over rice with roasted peanuts. The flavor of this was exactly as I suspected, but the meat was not so good. It was hard to cut, and as tender as a piece of chuck steak. I should have tried one of their spicier dishes, because after the sweet of the Asian Nachos, the sweet of this dish did not sit well with me.

I really wanted to like Chaparosa Grill. I liked that Chef Tony came around and talked to all the tables. The
staff were all very nice and got the food out in a timely, almost too fast manner. The menu is very diverse, maybe too much so. There is a lot going on here. Maybe we just chose the wrong items to try, but that is the risk you run when operating a restaurant, you only get a first chance to make a first impression.

Out of five passports, (because the menu feels like you are eating around the world), five being best to zero being worst, Chaparosa Grill gets 2 passports.

For more information about Chaparosa Grill, click here:

Chaparosa Grill on Urbanspoon

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