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The Gossiping Gourmet: Menu choices for any lifestyle at bambú

April 06, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • As part of their Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu, the bambu Restaurant at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel the macrobiotic entree of broiled lemon garlic shrimp, along with wakame, quinoa, pickled radish salad and miso soup.
As part of their Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu, the bambu… (KENT TREPTOW, HB…)

At the Newport Beach Restaurant Week kickoff party, we had the pleasure of talking with Chef Chad Blunston from bambú Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel. He was very excited about his new customized menu catering to guests' special dietary needs.

It is called Lifestyle Cuisine Plus and can be requested along with the regular menu. It's a very innovative concept formulated by the Fairmont Hotel chain that is uniquely expressed here in six specific categories: heart healthy, diabetes, vegan, raw, macrobiotic and gluten free. Each category features an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert.

We wanted to try selections from both menus, so we spent a bit of time perusing the many choices under the Brobdingnagian lamps hanging from the lofty three-story-high ceiling of this classically decorated hotel dining room. You know the drill … leather chairs and booths, floral patterned carpet, etc. What distinguished the space was a curved planter running the length of the room filled with giant bamboo trees and greenery, as well as a wall of windows facing a lush garden and a small pool and fountain, which our waiter referred to as the "sea" view.

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We began with a couple of appetizers from the regular menu, which featured some standards such as shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, popcorn shrimp and a cheese plate but also some interesting and inventive selections including "Eggs Benedict in the Evening", a poached egg, smoked prosciutto, brioche, a béarnaise vinaigrette and frisée salad with apple cider vinaigrette.

Their ahi tuna tartar was given a twist as well. The very soft textured tuna was enhanced by the addition of sweet garlic chili sauce then layered on top of fork-crushed avocado. The surprise was how nicely the sweet spicy sauce gave a whole new taste to this old standard. The little mound was sprinkled with sesame seeds and topped with pickled ginger. Crispy wontons acted as scoops.

There are two styles of crab cake on menus these days, the chunky and the mashed. They both have their fans but we are clearly in camp No. 1. These were of the homogenized variety although we could discern bits of red bells and herbs. The two hefty cakes also got some flavor from blue cornmeal. The crab flavor tends to get lost in this style, as it did here. A thick drizzle of chipotle aioli decorated the top and provided some welcome heat. They came with a nice portion of lightly sautéed spinach and fresh corn relish.

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