Fleming's Prime Steakhouse
455 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
One of the things I love about Fleming's is that there is always something going on. Sure their food is great, but they do no rest on that alone, even though they could. They always have some new promotion happening here. Something that gets people in the door, and trying new things on their menu. They have one of the best happy hours around, with the 5 for $6 til 7 promotion. With this happy hour they offer five appetizers, five cocktails, and five wines by the glass for $6, until 7PM. Also offered for $6 during happy hour is one of the best burgers you will have, the Prime Burger, which comes with cheese and bacon. I still look back fondly on that burger, which I had nearly a year ago. This trip to Fleming's is for another promotion, the Small Plates, Big Pours.
When we arrived at this media event for Small Plates, Big Pours, we were ushered into the Wine Cellar, which is a private dining room capable of hosting up to 54 people. I had been to Fleming's a number of times, and have never even known this room existed until this past Saturday. This room is part of a million dollar renovation project that has taken place at the restaurant not so long ago. The room is ringed by mosaics of winemakers, and other Fleming's influenced people. The mosaics are made up of tiles that feature the labels of the winemakers wines. Very creative.
Before we get to the Small Plates, Big Pours portion of the afternoon, we had a special treat come out for us, off of the 5 for $6 til 7 menu, the Pan Crisped Pork Belly. One tidbit of advice I have been prone to throw around to anyone that wants to listen to me is, "if you see pork belly on any menu, order it. You will never be disappointed". The pork belly at Fleming's definitely backed up my statement. This pork belly was served with a very nice cherry chutney sauce and a cheesy polenta that reminded me of a very well made cheesy girts. This is usually served with three pieces on the happy hour menu. I could have eaten about three plates of this for sure. The pork was crisped wonderfully, had just enough fat to add flavor, and went well with the other items on the plate. Pretty much a must get item when coming here for happy hour.
While we were waiting for our next plate of food to come out, we were introduced to the new Winepad that is new at Fleming's. Think of this as an interactive wine list, with a twist. Sure all of the wines are listed here, but you can also select what you are having for dinner, and the Winepad will let you know what wine will go good with your entree. For a wine novice such as myself, this would be a very useful tool. The Winepad gives lots of information about the wines, and even has a Spin the Bottle feature that randomly chooses wines off of their 218 bottle wine list. A very progressive way of selecting wines, and a great way to get more people into wines, like myself. It took a long time before I got my shot of trying this Winepad, because Katie was so involved with it.
Now onto the Small Plates, Big Pours section of the afternoon. There are seven different options available, with a suggested pairing for the wine. If however you would like to have a different wine, with your small plate, you may choose another one off of the list. The Small Plates, Big Pours are available all night in the bar area, and come at a cost of $24.95. The small plate is described as a serving size that is in between an appetizer and an entree. The big pour is a glass of wine that is filled to one and a half times the standard wine pour. By this time I was getting very excited to see what was headed our way from the kitchen.
When asked what I wanted to try of the seven options listed on the Small Plates, Big Pours menu, I was immediately drawn to the Braised Short Rib with B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet 2010. When I first saw the short rib I thought it might have been overcooked, but it was fork tender, with lots of big flavor. The au jus was a nice compliment to the meat, and the spinach and arugula served alongside of this was cooked well. I am not going to try and fool you into thinking I know a lot about wine, but I do know that this Cabernet went well alongside this short rib. The wine was pretty smooth, with a little hint of fruitiness in the background.
With a little prodding, I steered Katie towards ordering the Fleming's Lobster Tempura with Franciscan Estate Chardonnay, from Napa Valley. Who could ever say anything bad about lobster? Even though the lobster had a tempura batter around it, it did not overpower the dish, and let the lobster shine through. It was served alongside a very well made soy-ginger dipping sauce. I am usually against dipping lobster in anything but butter, but this went very well here. Along with the lobster tempura was an arugula-jicama salad, which provided a nice spice. Katie did not say much about her wine, but the sip that I had was very good, with a nice crispness.
As our meal was wrapping up, there was an opportunity to snap a picture of the great people that made this event possible. From left to right, Chef Partner and all around great guy, Chris Hutten provided us with all of this great food that was provided to us. In the center was our ever gracious hostess for the afternoon, the always hospitable Lee Healy. Then on the right, is the latest addition to the Fleming's Newport Beach family, Jose Jimenez. Jose has some big shoes to fill with the departing of the former Operating Partner, Russ Bendel, but just from talking to him briefly on this afternoon, we would say that Fleming's is in very capable hands. Thanks to all of you, and everyone that helped make this a very enjoyable afternoon at Fleming's.
Jose used to work at the Rancho Cucamonga Fleming's location, where they serve brunch. Now that brunch has followed him to this Newport location. With great brunch entrees like a Filet Mignon Eggs Benedict, Baked Brioche French Toast with a Walnut Crisp, and a Prime Burger with Fried Egg, I can not wait to come back and try their brunch that is available Sundays, from 10 to 2PM. Just another way that Fleming's is always evolving, and getting new people through the door.
The Small Plates, Big Pours promotion runs through the last day of June, and is available during their operating hours in the bar area. For more information on all the great happenings going on at Fleming's, click here to go to their web site: http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com/