Sunday, June 23, 2019

Coming Full Circle at ARC

ARC Buther and Baker
417 30th Street 
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Memorial Day weekend was strange this year in OC. It started off nice, with temps in the mid 70's, and then on Sunday, it dropped to the low 60's with a good amount of precipitation. Monday was nice and sunny, but windy and not really conducive to sitting on the beach all day. I can't remember a Memorial weekend when it had rained, and it kind of threw everything off.

On that Memorial Day Monday, Katie and I both had a rare day off together. We decided instead of being lazy, we were going to head down to Newport and get some steps in. Our walk did not last too long, as we got sidetracked when we ran into one of our favorite bartenders at Blackie's and of course, had a few cocktails. Predictably, I had a place picked out to try for lunch so after we finished our drinks we headed to ARC Butcher and Baker.

If ARC sounds familiar, it's because this is the little sister restaurant to the much heralded ARC Food and Libations at SOCO in Costa Mesa. That restaurant has won numerous awards since they opened their doors in 2013 and made culinary stars out of the husband and wife team, Noah and Marin Von Blom. Not only do they have supermodel looks, but their food is also sexy as hell, excuse my language.

ARC Butcher and Baker is a smaller version of the original ARC, but they are like five businesses in one. They offer grab and go dinner options, they will deliver boat baskets and catering straight to your boat at the nearby Newport Harbor, they are part butcher shop where you can take the meat to grill at home or they will grill it for you in their wood fuelled kitchen, they are part bakery, with a pretty wide selection of baked goods available every day, and last but not least, they have a small dining room with maybe a dozen seats available for people that want to eat here like us.

In a space as small as this, I expected the menu to be rather small, but I was pretty impressed with the wide array of items available. The menu lists starters, salads, sandwiches, plates, breakfast items which are available all day long, sides, soups, and baked goods. All menu items, except entrees, will set you back less than twenty dollars. The entrees are a little pricier, with a range of $22 to $32. Let's take a look at what Katie and I had to eat on this weird Memorial Day.

Baked goods offered? Of course, we needed to start off with something sweet here at ARC Butcher and Baker. This Cinnamon Roll ($4) caught my eye as soon as I walked in. This reminded me of a better-made version of the cinnamon rolls at the OC Fair, which I love. It was a little more structured and less sweet than the ones at the fair, but still delicious. The outside layers had a nice crunch to them, while the insides were softer and more pliable. A little more cinnamon would have made this one of the best cinnamon rolls that I have had, but it's definitely worth trying when visiting here.

As soon as we walked in, Katie knew she would be having this Turkey and Avocado Sandwich ($14). She has stated that this was the best turkey sandwich she has ever eaten. High praise for sure. This sandwich came piled high with some of the freshest and most flavorful turkey we have had in sandwich form, bacon, arugula, avocado, and dijon on a well crafted French-style roll. This sandwich made Katie gush with a fondness for it. She loved the hard work that went into this turkey, the thick cut bacon, the contrasts of the avocado with the aioli, and the solid bread used here. A turkey sandwich that she claims has ruined her for all others that she will have in the future. 

When these Fries ($7) were sat in front of us, I was not sure what to make of them. I kind of thought they looked like they were burnt, but that was not the case. They were some of the best fries I've had recently. Not crunchy, but the insides were incredibly soft and pillowy, while the outside was seasoned very simply but effectively. I'm also not usually a big fan of housemade ketchup, but this one was more than adequate and went well with these fries. A must get. 

Another appetizer before we get to the main portion of my meal. We gave these Meatballs ($13) a try. Just like the fries, I thought these looked like they were burnt, but they were not. These come ten meatballs to an order, were ping pong ball sized, and came with some burrata and parmesan on the plate. Not sure what these were made of, but they could have been a tad more tender and flavorful. Not bad, but I think we'd skip these next time in favor of maybe trying their mac cheese or another side.

The to-go boxes at ARC Butcher and Bakery proudly state, "Dirty Sexy Happiness", and I think that summed up my feelings when this ARC Burger ($14) was placed in front of me on this afternoon. It was very sexy and made me very happy. This was a very tall burger, with a thick beef patty, cheddar cheese, tomato, bacon, and a spring mix on a sesame-studded bun. Tackling this burger did require me removing the tomato and some of the lettuce to allow myself to get my mouth around this. It was a little on the salty side with the bacon, seasoned patty, and the white cheddar cheese. The beef patty also had a few burnt pieces around the outside of it, which I tried to eat around as much as I could. Not my favorite burger, but I'm still glad I got to try it. It also looked really good in pictures.

We also got two things to take home with us. This Cornbread ($6) was a total miss for the both of us. This is made fresh when you order it, so expect about a fifteen minute bake time. This stayed over the fire a bit too long, as the outer ring got burnt and the inside portion of this was not much better as it was a very dry version of cornbread. There was no sweetness to this, which is something I look forward to when having cornbread. The salt topping this also threw me off. Not good at all.

As much as we were disappointed by the cornbread, this Carrot Cake ($10) more than made up for it. Seven layers, yes I counted them, made up this delicious mile high cake. The cake portion was moist and flavorful, while the cream cheese frosting was not overly sweet and was a great compliment to the cake portion of this. I'm a carrot cake snob, and this is one that I can definitely get behind. Perfect for people who find traditional carrot cake to be way too sweet. This one would totally be your jam.

Even though I had some issues with the food we had at ARC Butcher and Baker, I left here pretty impressed with what they are doing in such a small space. I'm also really jazzed to come back and try more of their menu in the very near future. The breakfast items, Steak Sandwich, and Pork and Beans have definitely piqued my interest, and I'll for sure save room for a slice of German Chocolate Cake next time. It was a real pleasure getting a chance to meet both Chef Noah and Marin while we were here. They are not only great ambassadors for the food scene in OC, but they are also some awesome people as well. I love that they are innovators and love trying out new things. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. No pressure guys. I'm glad Katie and I could get outside on this Memorial Day, even if we did not get our full workout in before stopping to have cocktails and getting lunch.

Out of five geometry textbooks, (because an arc is a segment of a circle, which is pretty much the extent of what I learned about Geometry in high school), five being best to zero being worst, ARC Butcher and Baker gets 3.5 geometry textbooks.

For more information about ARC Butcher and Baker, head to their website here:

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