Monday, August 28, 2017

Reacquainting at Colleary's in Orange

2143 North Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92865

Time's moving so fast. I can remember when I was a kid and it seemed like forever before the holidays would roll around. Now older, they feel like they roll around almost every three months or so, and when I blink it's Christmas again. When I wanted to make plans with my best friend and his family, we realized the last time we saw them was Halloween, and ten months is an unacceptable amount of time to see our good friends Chris and Adrienne. We decided on meeting up in Orange, and of course, it was my job to pick a restaurant. After a quick search, I decided we'd rendezvous at Colleary's.

Colleary's is a little hard to find if you didn't know it was there. It's located right across from the Orange Mall, (sorry, even after all these years, I can't bring myself to call it the Village at Orange), in the Target Shopping Center, but closer to the Meats Avenue side of the shopping plaza. If the name Colleary seems a little familiar to you, it might be because you were a customer of the famous Rockwell's Bakery in Villa Park, and remember Owner Marty Colleary, who now runs this place, along with his business partner Jen.

Colleary's has been open for over three years now and has gotten much love from locals for their breakfasts, sandwiches, and Italian cuisine. They have also added a brunch and have a full bar, which they utilize to celebrate happy hour Tuesday through Saturday, and they also recently added a late night happy hour from 9 to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

We arrived at Colleary's, with a reservation made on Open Table, on a recent Friday evening and were met by a friendly hostess who showed us to our reserved table, which was set off to the side of the main dining area. This used to be where they had their bakery case awhile back. This more intimate spot, away from the pretty crowded dining room and bar, allowed us to catch up with Chris and Adrienne. With two kids in tow, we quickly made our selections off of their menu, which was fine with me since I was pretty hungry.

Just after ordering we were brought a nice basket full of freshly baked Foccacia and a tomato dipping sauce. Both were good and addictive. I had to use some willpower to fight off my urge to eat as much of this as I could since I had food coming.

Soups and salads came out rather quickly. Most entrees at Colleary's come with your choice of soup or salad. Chris and Katie were the lone Bistro Salad eaters on this evening. This elevated house salad came with fresh greens, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, and choice of dressing. Katie selected the lemon poppy seed dressing and could not have been more pleased. It added a little zip to the fresh produce and really helped to keep her interested while consuming this salad. Chris's daughter Lilly and I both had a Cup of Clam Chowder. This was a very thin chowder, but it made up for it in flavor and creaminess. Not a bad chowder, but nothing really notable about it.

We don't often eat out with kids, so I was interested to see this Kid's Spaghetti ($6). They give you the option of what kind of sauce for this, and while Lochlan went with the ho-hum butter and parmesan, his sister Lilly had the way more grown up marinara sauce. No complaints from her about this spaghetti, but of course she did not finish this rather small portion. Kids!

Katie's always a little skeptical about having seafood in restaurants far from the ocean, but it didn't stop her from getting the Pasta Special ($18) that was offered on this evening. It featured a good amount of sliced salmon, along with some sauteed spinach, a muted lemon based garlic sauce, and some pappardelle pasta. Katie was pleased that the salmon was very fresh, and they were very generous about the amount they added to this plate. The sauce was good but did not overpower the salmon, while the pasta was done nicely al dente. A special which Katie would get again if it was available on her next visit to Colleary's.

Adrienne started digging into this Classic Lasagna ($14) before I could get over there and snap a quick picture. Amateur. Anyways, they fill their lasagna with four kinds of cheese, a meaty Bolognese sauce, and a good amount of crumbled sausage. I did not get a chance to try this, but it looked wonderful from across the table. Adrienne is a pretty picky eater, and she had no complaints about this meal, which is a good sign.

Chris was feeling the seafood vibe at Colleary's when he got this Seafood Special ($28). I did not write down what this was, but from where I was sitting it appeared that it was shrimp and scallops served on a bed a linguine. Always a ravenous eater, Chris gobbled this up rather quickly and seemed to enjoy it well enough. He stated that the seafood was fresh and prepared nicely.

I would have to call this Slow Roasted Osso Bucco ($28) the star entree of the evening.  This veal shank had a real homey quality to it. Very tender, with all the veggies it kind of gave this more of a stew feel to it. This was on par with the one that I had at the Anaheim White House a year or two ago, and I loved that meal. I licked this plate and the bones clean. This also came with some mashed potatoes underneath the meat, which went well with the very good sauce. A winning meal, and something it would be hard for me to deviate from on future visits to Colleary's.

We kind of went a little crazy with the desserts at Colleary's, but we kind of had an inkling that they were all going to be great, what with the Rockwell's connection they have going for them. The best of these three was the Coconut Cake ($3.95). It was very moist and had a very solid coconut frosting topping it. Not as sweet as I was expecting, which is a plus in my book. I also was pretty pleased with the Chocolate Mousse Cheese Cake ($3.95) which is a must for chocolate lovers. It was not chalky like a lot of cheese cake tends to be. The chocolate was very present but did not overpower. The Tiramisu ($3.95) was my least favorite out of these three, but in all truthfulness, I'm not really a big tiramisu fan. This one was kind of heavy on the coffee flavor, which is also a pretty big turnoff for me. The rest of our table liked this well enough though.

Colleary's ended up being a great place to meet up with our friends and having a pretty solid meal. I was thankful that this was more of a family restaurant than what I believed it to be before stepping foot in here. It's the kind of place you can feel comfortable bringing the kids, having an adult beverage, and enjoying well-prepared food that tastes great. I look forward to trying more of their pasta dishes and maybe their prime rib, which I hear is excellent and only available on Friday and Saturday nights. Service on this evening was wonderful, as our server Jill met our every need during our stay. She and the rest of the staff at Colleary's made us feel at home from the minute we walked in the front door. Glad we finally met up with Chris and Adrienne for the first time in months, and also that we made some new friends at Colleary's.

Out of five Emmy awards, (because the most famous person I could find with the last name of Colleary was R.J. Colleary, who won televisions highest award for writing a Barney Miller episode in the late 70's), five being best to zero being worst, Colleary's gets 3.5 Emmy awards.

For more information about Colleary's, head to their website here:

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