Back Bay Bistro
1131 Back Bay Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
I get a lot of emails from people out of the area, asking me where they should eat when they are visiting our great county. Sometimes they say they are going to be around Disneyland, and they don't want to eat the food at the park. An even larger majority of tourists ask me to give them a restaurant with a view of the water, a place where they can soak up the California sunshine along the shore, and have a great meal. After being invited to Back Bay Bistro at the Newport Dunes Resort, I will definitely start sending our out of town guests to this restaurant with some of the best views of the Back Bay.
Back Bay Bistro is located at the Newport Dunes Resort, which is just off Jamboree, and situated on Back Bay Drive. I've lived in OC all my life, and only thought of this resort as a campground, but it's so much more. This 110 acre resort has one of the most convenient boat ramps around, they not only offer camping for RVs, but there's also beach cottages available for people like me that are inept at camping. Other amenities include one mile of beach, where they have playgrounds, a water-park, and offer visitors the opportunity to rent sailboats or pedal boats for tours of the Back Bay. There's also lots of events happening at the Dunes, so there's almost always something to do, and what I like to do is eat, and they have a spot for that as well, Back Bay Bistro.
Just like Newport Dunes Resort, there always seems to be something happening at Back Bay Bistro. I get emails from them all the time for events and specials happenings at the restaurant. They have a pretty impressive Taco Tuesday. On Wednesday's they offer half priced bottles of selected wines from 5 to 9 pm. Sunday is Pasta Night, and also kids eat free on Sunday evenings. There's a Jazz night every month, and for you sports fans out there, there's LA Rams legend, Vince Ferragamo's Wine Dinner every third Thursday of the month. A great opportunity to meet a sports legend, hear some great stories, and of course partake in some wonderful wine and food.
Even though we weren't here for the wine dinner, our disappointment soon washed away, as we took in the great view from our table and the Back Bay Bistro patio. We were cheated out of a sunset dinner because of the June Gloom, but the scenery was spectacular nonetheless. It was fantastic watching the boats dock and set sail around us while eating. There's something about the sea air that really gets me hungry, so let's see how the food turned out for us on this evening.
Of course with the relaxed, vacation feel of Back Bay Bistro, a beverage from the bar was definitely in order. I had a hard time choosing from their impressive cocktail list, but finally settled on their Chupacabra ($11). When I'm having trouble selecting a cocktail, I usually just pick the one that sounds the most unique, and this one filled the bill for that. They use a base of Milagro Silver tequila and Bacardi rum, then add muddled jalapeno, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. I really liked the contrasting feels of each sip of this drink. In some I got the slight spice from the jalapeno, and in others I got the sweet from the syrup. It really kept me guessing and interested throughout the short life of this drink.
Before we ordered, the folks at Back Bay Bistro set out these rolls for us. Came out nice and warm, with plenty of butter. I like when they provide lots of butter, so I can spread as much as I like, without bothering the wait staff for more. These were good sourdough style rolls, which they refilled a few times during our stay.
The first of our two appetizers was this very photogenic Ahi Tower ($14). Cubed avocado and ahi tuna are layered with tomato and a citrus gastrique. The tuna is seasoned very simply here, so the richness of the ahi shines through. The double layer of fresh avocado of course works well with the ahi. The citrus was very muted here, relegated to a supporting role in this starter.
It's a close race, but I probably liked this Crab Cake ($14) even better than the ahi tower. This very solid crab cake used both lump blue crab meat and Canadian rock crab to assemble this cake, which did not use a lot of filler. It was almost pure crab bliss here, and it was made even better with the very well done tarragon aioli. I know it was not meant to be showcased, but the coleslaw used here for a little color should not be discarded. One of the better ones I have had recently. I look forward to coming back again and forgoing the fries, and getting this coleslaw again. A must try for coleslaw lovers.
We were told that we must try their award winning Seafood Chowder ($8) and now I'm telling you that you need to try it also. Chef Bruno Massuger was not exactly very forthcoming in what goes into this seafood chowder, but it was delicious. It was a very creamy chowder, and one that did not lack for including lots of chunk inside of it. I'm not sure what awards this chowder has won, but I found myself licking the cup clean, and wishing I had ordered the bigger bowl instead. Excellent work chef, and you have every right to keep this a secret.
When you are so close to the ocean, it's natural to want some seafood, and that's what Katie ordered on this evening. She had the Chef''s Daily Feature (Market Price), which just happened to be Opah on this evening. She was really surprised by the portion size she was given, and it was served in a very solid sauce. The opah was very light, and prepared well, with some nice grill marks across it. Katie called this delicious, and the plate was rounded out with a scoop of mashed potatoes, and some asparagus spears.
Since it was Friday, I thought I'd take advantage of their Prime Rib Special ($30 for the 14 ounce option). Prime rib is only available on Fridays at Back Bay Bistro, and it has become quite a popular night of the week for people to take advantage of this great deal. They offer a 10 ounce portion as well, but do yourself a favor and spend the extra $5 to get the bigger slice, it's the start of the weekend after all. I don't want to speak ill of a prime rib competitor that I visited recently, but this version was much better than that outdated, supposedly prime rib specialty restaurant. This prime rib was flavorful all the way through, was leaner than most, cooked to a perfect medium rare, and came with some au jus for an even bigger flavor boost. This dinner was rounded out by some veggies, and a baked potato that came with all the trimmings on the side, so you could dress it any way you like. A very satisfying meal.
Dessert was up next, and we had a short debate on what to have, and decided this Creme Brulee ($8) would be the way to go. This was a good sized creme brulee, which helped prevent Katie and I from fork fighting over this creamy dessert. A great way to end our meal at Back Bay Bistro.
I'm really excited we finally got the chance to experience Back Bay Bistro for ourselves. Not only is this a great restaurant for the people who are camping at the Newport Dunes Resort, and want something better than barbecued hot dogs and burgers, but it's also a great spot for locals to take advantage of. The dining room offers gorgeous views of the bay, and there always seems to be something going on here, whether it's their nightly specials, their wine dinners, or their almost legendary Sunday brunch, which features an impressive array of seafood favorites, along with your favorite brunch staples. Our server, Sabrina was wonderful, and everyone we encountered on this evening really made us feel at ease, and helped provide a greatly needed vacation feel to our day. We look forward to sharing this restaurant with not only our out of town guests, but people from around the area as well.
For more information about Back Bay Bistro, head to their website here: http://www.newportdunes.com/back-bay-bistro/