Thursday, August 7, 2014

Looking for a Purr-Fect Meal at Bosscat Kitchen

Bosscat Kitchen and Libations
4647 MacArthur Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

I feel that I have a pretty good sense of what's going on in OC restaurant wise, but there's always that spot that slips through the cracks. When we were planning a dinner with our good friends Minerva and Duc, she brought up Bosscat Kitchen, and I totally acted like I knew what she was talking about. She's a fellow food blogger, (read her great blog Much Ado About Fooding), and I wanted to seem like I was, "in the know", about this new spot she wanted to try. I might have even told her, "yeah, I've wanted to try that place out", even though I had never heard of it. She bought it, hook, line, and sinker. Good old, gullible Minerva. Of course I guess now that she's reading this, the cats out of the bag, but oh well.

Bosscat Kitchen has only been open since April, and has a very strong 4 and a half stars on Yelp, with close to 200 reviews. I usually like to review a restaurant after they have been open for more than six months, but Minerva really wanted to eat here, and the menu looked pretty good. Manning the kitchen is Chef Peter Petro, who has worked at Charlie Palmer, and is a Chef Instructor at the Art Institute of California. At Bosscat he has created a menu that uses ingredients and techniques inspired by the South. I was very excited not only to enjoy his food, but enjoy the great company of Minerva's better half, Duc.

We got to Bosscat Kitchen and Libations on the Thursday before the July 4th holiday weekend. The restaurant is located at the corner of MacArthur and Campus, just down the street from John Wayne Airport, and it shares a common wall with Ten Asian Bistro. In fact the owner of Bosscat has a partial ownership in that restaurant as well. We were seated on the very comfortable patio. I really liked the large comfy booths, and could imagine this would be the hip spot to be at on Sundays during brunch. The menu is not going to overwhelm you with choices, but there's enough variety on it to keep most people happy. I was happy that the food was on its way out, so let's see how everything worked out for us here at Bosscat Kitchen and Libations.

If you are a frequent reader of our blog, you know I do not usually drink too much, but it was the day before the holiday, and Bosscat features a whiskey tasting room which is stocked with 100 plus whiskey, bourbon, and scotch options, as well as a cocktail menu which features many interesting sounding beverages. Duc got one of the whiskeys neat, so that left Minerva and I to sample from the cocktail menu. She selected their namesake drink, the Bosscat ($14). This drink uses basil hayden bourbon as a base, then its mixed with rosemary, a dash of bitters, basil, and fresh lemons. We were kind of indifferent to this drink. It was a little on the plain tasting side. The bourbon was definitely the focal point of this drink, and that was about all I got out of this. It needed a little something else.

My beverage was a lot better than Minerva's. I had the Caprice ($14). Fresh strawberries, basil, agave, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and Hudson whiskey combined to make this concoction. This was sweet, but was tempered a bit by the splash of balsamic vinegar, which I thought was ingenious. Definitely a drink that was much more to my liking.

I hate starting the food portion of this post with the best thing we ate here, but that's the way things hit the table. As crazy as this sounds, this was my first poutine experience, and after inhaling this, it won't be my last. The Duroc Pork Belly Poutine ($11) of course contains one of my favorite ingredients of all time, pork belly, but it also includes cheese curds, gravy, and a duck fat fried egg, all on a bed of secret recipe fries. I loved the use of the egg on this, which when broken released the rich yolk all over this poutine. The fries were well made and crisp, and the pork belly could not have been prepared better. Whenever I've heard about poutine, I always wondered how the cheese curds interacted with the dish, and they are definitely an essential part of it. It's been well over a month since we have been here, and this is the item that I have been craving ever since.

Minerva went to school at Duke in North Carolina, so she knows a thing or two about southern foods. When we were ordering starters, she made a beeline straight to these Collard Green Poppers ($7). These cornbread battered collard greens were pretty tasty. Kind of a corn dog crunch on the outside, then the well done collard greens, with bits of meat on the inside. These were served with a Carolina mustard sauce for dipping. The mustard was not overpowering, and this kind of had more of a gravy feel to it, which was fine with me.

It was entree time, and the first one we will take a look at will be Minerva's selection, the Cajun Brick Chicken ($17). During cooking they use a brick to weight down the chicken to insure that the skin will be crispy. This was definitely the case with this chicken. Not only was the skin nice and crispy, but the chicken was moist and very tender. The chicken was placed on top of a bed of Carolina dirty rice, which met to Minerva's approval. She seemed to really enjoy this plate, and we all liked that this meal kept her busy, so it gave someone else a chance to talk.

Duc took no time at all to order the Barbecue Porchetta Sandwich. Since they are going for the southern style of cooking at Bosscat, they definitely need to have a pork sandwich on their menu. This was another winner. They use a mixture of dry rubbed pork loin and belly, which came out tender and flavorful on its own, and was lightly brushed with a barbecue sauce which still allowed the natural flavors of the pork to come through. The sandwich was then topped with a cabbage slaw for texture, and a potato bun. Really a good pork sandwich.

Katie had narrowed down her dinner options to two when we sat down, but ended up having the 12 Hour Beef Short Rib ($21). This short rib was fork tender, with a very nice, but not overbearing black pepper sauce poured over it.  At the base of this cast iron skillet was a potato au gratin, which was the size of a brick. Katie had mixed feeling about this dish. She liked the deliciousness of the meat, but felt it was too fatty in some sections. She really liked the potato cake, which soaked up the juices of the short rib admirably.

I swore I was not going to have a burger when I walked into Bosscat, but as you can see, I did not keep my word. It was so hard when the waitress mentioned how amazing the burger is, and the owner came by and said the same thing. I had to see what all the fuss was about with this Bosscat Burger ($15). This burger is made from Midwestern beef, topped with bacon, cheese, and a black garlic sauce. I liked this burger, but was not enamored with it. The beef was great, and very clean tasting. The bacon and cheese kind of got lost here, because of the strong black garlic sauce. The bun did a great job of staying together, but there was too much produce on this burger. A good solid burger, but not something I crave, like the poutine we had earlier.

Not the most photogenic of desserts, but something you must try at Bosscat Kitchen are these Red Velvet Churros ($7). I've never seen this on any other menu, so I applaud their originality. These were dusted with sugar and cinnamon, and served with a cream cheese icing ganache. I really liked the sweet flavor of these churros, but they were a tad too doughy inside. The cream cheese ganache was the perfect dip for these.

The only other dessert on the Bosscat menu is this Chocolate Bourbon Pot de Creme ($8). The base of this dessert is a chocolate bourbon custard, with sweet cream and sugared pecans. This was a very well done pot de creme. It was extremely smooth, with just a hint of the bourbon flavor coming through. It seemed like everyone at the table liked this more than the churros, so I had a few bites of this and ate my fair share of churros.

I don't want to give you the wrong impression about Bosscat Kitchen. Just because the best thing I ate all night was the first thing I ate, does not mean this is not a good place to eat. I thought all of the food we had on this night was above average. I did not think the prices were totally out of control, except for maybe the cocktails which were all priced at $14. The service we experienced was excellent. Our server was very knowledgeable, and kept great tabs on us all night, along with her other tables. I really liked the atmosphere here too. They got the southern charm part down. It reminded me a little of Hopscotch in Fullerton. I'm glad we have a place like this closer to South OC. I'm glad Minerva had mentioned coming to this restaurant, even if I had never heard of it.

Out of five lions, (because I could imagine that in the jungle they are probably the bossiest cats around), five being best to zero being worst, Bosscat Kitchen and Libations gets 3.5 lions.

For more information about Bosscat Kitchen and Libations, go to their website here:

Bosscat Kitchen and Libations on Urbanspoon

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