Leatherby's Cafe Rouge
615 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
On a recent Thursday night, Katie and I were lucky enough to be invited to an event at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge. The occasion was an event to introduce their chef, Ross Pangilinan to some of the media. Chef Ross has been at Leatherby's since late last year. He is an eclectic mix; born in Tennessee, raised in Orange county, two stints in Michelin starred restaurants in France, opening Sinatra restaurant in Vegas, and this is his third time working in a Pantina owned restaurant.
Letherby's is located on the bottom floor of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, part of the Orange County Performing Arts complex in Costa Mesa. Opened since 2006, Letherby's has been a favorite spot for the theater set. Let's see if Chef Ross can keep them coming back.
Our first little surprise of the night was the amuse-bouch pictured above. It was a watermelon cube, topped with a blueberry, balsamic vinaigrette, and also Pop rocks, yes you read that right, Pop rocks! I have not had Pop rocks since I was kid, and now I was having them on top of watermelon, at Leatherby's. You first had the taste of the sweet, then a salty taste, and then it finished off with the bang of the Pop rocks. A real rocking, (sorry, I had to say it), start to the meal.
Alright, sorry my pictures all turned out so pink. I was under rose colored lights, and they were not the best to operate under, but at least you can clearly see the food. Just remember that the food was not all this pink. What we had here for our first course was the Fresh Seafood Quartet. Four different kinds of seafood, I may have missed some of the ingredients, but these were all good. The octopus on the bottom right was served with sweet tomato, olives and radish. Even though Katie and I are not fans of octopus, this tasted fine to us. The lobster on the bottom left was served with a panzanella salad. I could have had a lot more of this. The lobster tasted so fresh. On the top right we had tuna tar tare in a crispy won ton wrapper. The top left featured , Japanese hamachi topped with green apple, jicama, and seven flavor chili pepper. I felt that this was a playful way to present fish and accent each to make each stand on it's own.
The second course was the House made Fettuccine. This also had roasted mushrooms, white wine Parmesan sauce, and truffles. This dish was very creamy and rich. The richness did not come from the truffles, but from the Parmesan sauce. I really liked the texture of this dish.
Katie selected the Black Striped Bass as her main course selection. This was served with Israeli couscous, paella, mussels, shrimp, saffron and chorizo. Yes, you read that right also, chorizo. I only had one bite of this, and that was not enough for me to get all of these big flavors. I liked the bite I had, but I needed more to take it all in. Katie felt that the bass was very tender, but she was not wild about the skin being left on the fish. She was a fan of the paella and the couscous.
Through my rose colored picture you can see my main course, the Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast. This hearty dish was served with mushroom risotto, caramelized blackberries, Szechuan pepper, and cider jus. This was true comfort food. The duck had a great flavor as usual, but there were some fatty pieces. The mushroom risotto was unbelievable. The jus and blackberries worked well with the duck. I did not snap a picture of the other main course offered, but I did sneak a bite from Vanessa, the Beef Short Ribs were probably the best choice of the night. Very tender pieces, and accompanied by a mushroom red wine sauce that was awesome. Thanks for the bite Vanessa!
These two desserts were my favorites of the ones I tried. The first was the Sorbet/Ice Cream. This stood out because the watermelon sorbet had a hint of pepper after the initial sweetness wore off. It was an unexpected surprise, mush like the Pop Rocks at the beginning of the meal. The other dessert that stood out was the, "Not Classic" New York Cheesecake. I am usually not a cheesecake person, but this one was not chalky, and had a smooth texture. This was also sprinkled with butterscotch crumbles, and fresh berries. Very light and a great way to cap a great meal.
Before we left I snapped a few pictures of the dining room. I loved the wavy glass window that stretched all along the dining room. When we were seated at 6:30 the place was buzzing with activity, but as soon as the shows started, we were the only ones left in the restaurant.
This was a really nice event put on by Leatherby's. Chef Ross was very quiet and straight forward when he came out to our table. He was polite and answered all of our questions. I really enjoyed his playfulness of items in his dishes. It was also great getting to know some of the other blogger's that I read all of the time, Kat from Kats 9 lives, Griffin from Griffin Eats Oc, and more. Both Katie and I are looking forward to coming back to Leatherby's in the near future to do a review.
For more information on Leatherby's Cafe Rouge, click here: http://www.patinagroup.com/restaurant.php?restaurants_id=20