Friday, March 16, 2012

Is It Wise to Go to Sage? CLOSED

2531 East Bluff Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Orange County Restaurant Week feels like Christmas to food bloggers. I love plotting out where we are going to dine, perusing the menus, and of course eating. I usually pick restaurants that I have never been to and also offer some of the greatest amounts of food. This year, due to a week full of obligations and an impending vacation we were only going to be able to make it to one restaurant. It always seems to work out this way for us during restaurant week. So I carefully chose where we were going, and the choice was Sage.

I have wanted to try Sage for some time now. I have heard good things and their restaurant week menu looked good. Sage is slipped into the corner of an out of place shopping center in Newport Beach. Sandwiched between a CVS and a Ralph's, it could be easy to miss this place.

Sage has been around since 1997. Opened by Chef Rich Mead, former employee at the IRS, he came back to his true passion of creating food using local sourced ingredients. The dining room at Sage is dominated by the color white, and is made very comfortable by the attentive wait staff. Off to one edge of the dining room is a tiny bar that is filled from our 6pm arrival until we left at 7:30. The dining room fills up with people throughout our visit as well, so I am really expecting the food to be good. Lets see how it came out.

I always like a unique bread basket to start off, and we were presented with a different one here at Sage. There was some pretty good bread here, and a cracker type bread that resembled cheesy naan. No butter was used here either. We were given a tomato humus, which was a nice variation from the normal bread and butter used in many restaurants.

Katie started off her three course meal with this Blue Crab Spring Roll appetizer. This was served with a green papaya salad and a spicy dijon dipping sauce. Unfortunately the salad or the dijon sauce really over powered the taste of the spring roll. It also did not help that the spring roll lacked big crab flavor. The plus side of this appetizer was that it was made with very fresh ingriedients.

For my starter I went for the soup option, the Roast Weiser Farm's Butternut Squash Soup. This soup was playfully topped with creme fraiche and pomegranate molasses. The result was a smooth, mellow soup that had little spoonfuls of surprise flavor from the creme fraiche and the molasses. Not overly rich, but a satisfying soup.

Katie had no problem choosing an entree out of the three that were offered on the restaurant week menu. She selected the Roast Goat Cheese and Garlic Stuffed Half Chicken. This chicken was moist and tender. There was a mustard au jus that added a mellower flavor than its name would suggest. Katie really enjoyed that this was paired with goat cheese. She was also excited by the broccolini with garlic, but was less enthused by the egg noodles. She felt these added nothing to this plate.

If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you are not surprised by my dinner selection this night, the Grilled Hanger Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. If there is a steak on a restaurant week menu, I will almost always gravitate towards it. This dish had many layers to it. First off, the steak was cooked a wonderful medium rare.  The chimichurri sauce had a nice little tang to it. I felt the serving size of this was a little on the small side, but after seeing Katie's large serving of chicken I just expected more. The steak was served with grilled vegetables and curried Israeli cous cous. The veggies were fine, but the cous cous was just okay. I would have liked a side item with a little more substance.

The Meyer Lemon and Meringue Tart really surprised Katie pleasantly. The meringue was light and fluffy and the lemon flavor really refreshed her. Even not being a lemon fan, I found this to be a delightful dessert.

The Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake was calling my name. I really enjoyed the cake portion of this dessert. It was made even better when I mixed it with the sauce that was drizzled on the plate. The other component of this dessert was a spiced cherry port compote. I am not too big on cherries, but this worked here. Kind of made this dessert more of a black forest type dessert.

How to sum up our dinner at Sage? First off you should know that none of the items above are available on their regular dinner menu. These items were made for restaurant week only. With that being said, I would like to come back and try some of their regular dinners. The items we had on this night were very solid, but nothing that really blew us away. Katie really liked her choices a lot better than I liked mine, and after trying bites of hers I can admit that she did a better job of ordering the better items. I will get her back though, restaurant week is only 11 months away!

Out of five comic books, (because in X-Men there is a mutant character named Sage, who has perfect memory skills), five being best to zero being worst, Sage gets 3 comic books.

For more information on Sage, click here:

Sage on Urbanspoon

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