The Golden Truffle
1767 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
I have been doing a pretty good job of getting to some of the restaurants that have been on our, "must try" list. We have almost got our list down to two full pages, instead of the three full pages it was almost two months ago. Katie and I were going to be celebrating our four year anniversary, so I went to our trusty list to see if there was another restaurant to cross off. I finally decided on the restaurant that was second from the top, The Golden Truffle.
I can remember when I put this restaurant on our list. I had just started my blog, and Katie's sister and brother in law had given me a copy of the Zagat Guide for Southern California. A really thoughtful gift that I still have to this day. I will definitely give the credit for this great gift to Kevin, because Sara has really given some clunker gifts in the past. This was not a clunker gift at all.
The Golden Truffle has been around forever. Okay, not forever, but for over thirty years, which is a lifetime in the restaurant business. Started as a catering business, this chef driven restaurant is owned and operated by Alan Greely. We had made reservations on a recent Saturday night. Roman Cucina next door was packed, but when we entered the Golden Truffle there were only a smattering of tables occupied. We had our choice of tables, so we chose to sit in the "Wine Cellar" room, which was really just a room with large wine racks and maps hanging from the walls. There were about six tables in this room, which was cooler than the rest of the restaurant, which was very nice.
Almost all of the reviews I have read about this restaurant make mention of the dated decor here. It is a little dated, but nothing that deterred us from eating here. The menu at the Golden Truffle changes daily. So the menu items that we are about to share with you might not be available when you visit. How to explain the menu here? It is safe to say that it's whatever the whim of the chef is on any particular day. I have heard that this restaurant has some Caribbean influence, but that was not evident on our visit this particular night. It was a hodgepodge of Asian, Mexican, European, American and Creole that dotted the menu on our visit. Let's see what corner of the world we decided to tackle during this meal.
After being seated we were given slices of bread. I was of course very hungry, so I was very grateful for anything to start. This was a pretty solid French bread. It had a hard crust, while the inside had a nice chew to it. The butter here tasted a little like margarine to me, but Katie thought I was wrong about that. Four years into our relationship, and this has been our biggest disagreement yet.
Not only did we receive the bread basket, but the chef also sent out an amuse bouche of Antipasti. This tiny salad was made up of thick cuts of salami, celery, tomato, and cheese. This was very tangy, due to the very citrusy dressing used here. I always like getting an amuse bouche from a chef, it makes me feel like it is more of a private tasting, than being in a restaurant. Plus, everyone likes free stuff, especially food.
Lately we have been eating a lot of onion rings, and when I saw that they had Vidalia Onion Rings with Caribbean Ketchup ($7), I knew we had to try them. These rings were huge. The breading really broke away too easily, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes onion rings. The onion itself was very mild, with a nice subtle onion taste. The breading was not too over the top, and allowed the onion to be front and center. The Caribbean ketchup was nice and sweet, and was a nice compliment to the onion rings. We got these the same time as our salads, so they sat awhile, and cooled rather quickly.
Katie mildly surprised me when she ordered the Petite Iceberg, with Tomato, Sweet Onion, and House Buttermilk ($9). This version of a wedge salad sans bacon, really had Katie raving. She really liked the freshness of the produce, while the dressing drew praise from her by having a great texture and a wonderful flavor. She detected the use of peeper in the dressing. Her only semi-complaint was the overuse of tomatoes here. That's the only part of this salad that she did not finish.
No surprise with my choice of salad for avid readers of the blog. True to form I ordered the Golden Truffle Caesar Salad ($9). When this was placed in front of me, I was immediately drawn to the purple hard boiled eggs that accompanied this salad. They were dyed in beet juice, just like the ones we had at Provisions Market in Orange, two weeks later. Crazy coincidence. This Caesar did not use a creamy dressing, but more of an oil based dressing. It did include chopped romaine, but also capers, Parmesan cheese, and the aforementioned eggs. This salad was a very good serving size, and I ended up liking it well enough. The large toasted crouton was very good on this salad.
The menu on this particular Saturday was a little playful. Under the heading, "Utility Foods with Economic Certainty", was Katie's dinner for this evening, the Lemon Fusilli with Parmesan Cream ($10, but with chicken added it came out to $20). We both really enjoyed this plate. This was my first time having lemon fusilli, and it really worked for me. The lemon did not overpower, and the Parmesan cream had a nice tang to it. The ten dollar chicken was tender and seasoned well, but had too much skin for Katie. A very nice plate.
After much contemplation over the menu at the Golden Truffle, I finally made up my mind to get the Braised Prime Nebraskan Short Rib with Natural Horseradish Jus ($26). I had some mixed thoughts about this short rib. The meat was not as tender as other short rib dishes I have had. The meat could not have stood on its own, because it was a little on the dry side. The sauce was a tad salty, but helped by moistening the meat. I did not detect much in the way of horseradish with this jus. Some bites were okay, while others really needed the sauce. The carrot was very crisp, and the potato was very smooth. I felt the serving size for this was pretty generous.
Dessert time, and we settled on the Cuban Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme ($8). For chocolate lovers, this will definitely do the trick. This was a very rich chocolate, which was cut by the fresh berries placed on top of this dessert. I had more than my fair share of this dessert.
We had casually told our waiter that we were celebrating an anniversary, and he brought us out this slice of Cheesecake. This is a heavier cheesecake than I usually like. It was very dense. I did like the flavor of it though, and the torching of the top of this really gave it a creme brulee type feel to this dessert. Again, plenty of fresh berries were added to this to help round it out.
It is safe to say that we enjoyed our meal at the Golden Truffle, but I was not over the moon with it. From what I have read on-line about this place, it really matters who's in the kitchen on the night you are here. When Chef Alan is working, the food is much more creative, and done better. Nonetheless, the food we had on this particular Saturday night was all pretty good, but pedestrian. I really liked the atmosphere here at the Golden Truffle. It was not too stuffy, even with the older clientele. Our server Blaine, was fantastic on this night. He had a great personality, and took real good care of us during our visit. I thought the prices were not too crazy out of control for the serving sizes that you get. I'm glad that we could finally cross the Golden Truffle off of our list, but we look forward to returning when Chef Alan is in the kitchen.
Out of five poker chips, (because the most expensive truffle ever purchased was by a Hong Kong casino tycoon, who paid a whopping $330,000 for a 3.3 pound truffle), five being best to zero being worst, The Golden Truffle gets 3 poker chips.
For more information regarding The Golden Truffle, click here t go to their web site: http://www.goldentruffle.com/index.html