2108 West Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663
It was my favorite time of the year again, OC Restaurant Week, which was held the first week of March this year. For me, restaurant weeks make me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Restaurant weeks allow us to try a good sampling of a restaurant menu, without breaking the bank, which is always a good thing.
For those of you that are not aware of how restaurant week works, you go to the OC Restaurant Week website, browse the prix fixed menus, and then make reservations. There's no coupons to print, no hassle, and different price points, so you know exactly what you are going to pay before heading out the door. With over 150 restaurants to choose from, I did quite a bit of research, but ultimately just picked a restaurant that was on my restaurant wishlist, and that's what landed us at Dory Deli.
Dory Deli made my list because they got a very good review from OC Register restaurant critic, Brad A. Johnson. He loved the burger and fries here and called this one of the best dining options on the boardwalk. It just so happened that the burger and fries were one of the five options that were offered during their restaurant week promotion, so I knew what I'd be having before even walking in here.
Katie and I arrived at Dory Deli on a rather chilly Friday evening at dusk. For this being a Friday, it was pretty quiet in Newport on this evening. A far cry from what it will be like in a few months when the weather warms up a bit. Dory Deli is situated between a pizza place, and the always busy Seaside Donuts, which feeds the hungry residents of Newport 24/7. Dory Deli recently went through a remodel, which allowed them to build a full bar, and seating that overlooks the always entertaining boardwalk.
Dory Deli comes to us from the same people that run Wild Goose Tavern and Country Club, both of which are in Costa Mesa and Hopscotch in Fullerton. The menu here is geared to the beach casual feel of the place, with hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, poke bowls, fish and chips, salads, and for early risers, they serve breakfast until 11. We were here for the restaurant week menu, so let's see how that all worked out for us.
Of course, with all this build up about the restaurant week menu, Katie insisted that we start with something that was not part of that menu, this Charcuterie Plate ($12). I think she was just a little hungry after our two-mile walk. This chef selected board included three kinds of cheese, toasted bread points, two kinds of cold cuts, grapes, and jam. Pretty good sized for twelve dollars, and it did the trick to help Katie quench her hunger until our food arrived. I'm not really into sliced cheeses, but I did enjoy the salami and the cured ham with the toasted bread.
Dory Deli offered both their lunch and dinner restaurant menus on this evening, with the only difference being that the dinner option included an alcoholic beverage of your choice. So, for only $10 you get a side item and one of the selected entrees. A pretty good deal, especially when you consider that the entrees here all cost over $10, so you are essentially getting your sides for free. Katie started off with the Hummus, which comes with tortilla chips. I really enjoyed this pretty basic hummus. It was fresh and could have used a little more spice, but still pretty solid consistency. I had never had hummus with tortilla chips before, but it actually worked, as these were some pretty sturdy chips. For the main part of her meal, Katie tried the Poke Bowl. This was made up of diced tuna, crab salad, sushi rice, marinated cucumbers, and avocado slices. She was taken aback by how fresh everything was on this. She felt this was just as good, if not better than what you can get at most poke places. She did end up adding too much soy sauce to this, but she still enjoyed it very much.
A burger and fries for $10, I was in. This was the same meal that got Brad Johnson all excited almost two years ago. I was a little less tepid in my love for this though. The Dory Burger sounded really good when I read the description off of the menu; a beef patty, pastrami, a horseradish beet sauce, caramelized onion, and swiss cheese on a brioche bun. The house-made patty was definitely very solid, but the rest of this burger kind of fell flat for me. I think the horseradish beet sauce was the yellow stuff topping this, and it was not what I was expecting. It was more like a dry mustardy texture, without any flavor behind it. There was a nice blanket of pastrami and swiss on here but they both fell flat, only adding saltiness. This burger needed a sauce to make it more cohesive and to bring the salt level down a bit. The fries were good, as they seemed to be twice fried, but they deserved better than the lackluster ranch dressing that I got with them. It tasted like bottled ranch you could get at the supermarket. Fine for the $10 restaurant week price, but nothing about this would make me order this again.
Fortunately for Dory Deli, there is plenty that I would return here for. I hear that their fish and chips are pretty good, but what I am most looking forward to trying soon is their cheesesteak, appropriately named the Rocky Balboa. Even though my burger did not satisfy, Katie was pretty impressed with the meal she got here. Our server Cierra was top notch and made sure our every need was met on this evening. OC Restaurant Week was a good time to experience Dory Deli for the first time, as we got to try it out, and also cross another restaurant off of our restaurant wishlist.
Out of five escalators, (because the nearby Dory Fishing Fleet at the Newport Pier was established in 1891, the same year that the first moving staircase was patented in Wales), five being best to zero being worst, Dory Deli gets 2.5 escalators.
For more information about Dory Deli, head to their website here: http://dorydeli.com/