The Gossiping Gourmet: Five Crowns remains a jewel in local dining

June 29, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Grilled sea bass at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar.
Grilled sea bass at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar. (JIM COLOMBO )

The wife of a Scottish nobleman modeled the Five Crowns on a 12th century English country house when she built it in 1936.

Originally called the Hurley Belle, it was a bed and breakfast catering to the Hollywood elite. Couples like Rita Hayworth with Howard Hughes and Bogie and Bacall used it as a hideaway.

In 1965, Richard Frank of Lawry's Prime Rib took it over and renamed it Five Crowns, because it was his fifth restaurant and each was considered a jewel in the company's crown. The new executive chef, Ryan O'Melveny Wilson, is a fourth generation member of the Frank and Van de Camp families to be a part of the business.

With his arrival comes the reopening of the newly refurbished interior that still preserves an ambiance of old English warmth. Patio dining is also available, weather permitting. While retaining Five Crown's classics like rib eye, prime rib, creamed spinach and creamed corn, Ryan is adding a seasonal, regionally sourced menu, to be executed with Byron Freeze, the chef de cuisine.


We were very impressed with the artichoke tarte tatin, a thin, buttery pastry shell, covered with large, luscious chunks of artichoke hearts whose juices dripped into the crust. It was served with a dollop of whipped goat cheese and a lovely little frisee salad with a light lemony dressing.

Also new to the menu are the roasted day boat scallops with stinging nettle puree and honey nugget tangerines. The juicy, crispy scallops rested on the mildly flavored creamy puree that didn't pair well with the seafood. The tangerine sauce might have been a better accompaniment, but it was too thin and had very little tangerine flavor.

The delectable grilled sea bass was a whole filleted small fish cooked to perfection. The moist delicate flesh was simply irresistible. Interestingly paired with marinated fava beans, the two flavors complemented each other beautifully. Tasty little greens atop the fish provided a decorative touch of color. This dish was a fish lover's dream.

A classic Italian preparation for chicken is to cook it butterflied under a brick. This results in crispy skin with juicy, tender flesh. The small half Jidori chicken sat on a mound of smashed Yukon gold potatoes that were too bland and under salted. The sauce was a red wine reduction with deep flavor. Nice seasonal, sweet English peas rounded out the plate.

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