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The Gossiping Gourmet: Hit Bayside for great bar food menu

December 21, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Bayside Restaurants' Ahi Tuna, prepared by Chef Paul Gstrein.
Bayside Restaurants' Ahi Tuna, prepared by Chef… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

How can you get a reasonably priced meal at a very nice restaurant in these difficult economic times?

Many fine restaurants are offering pre-fixe dinners and early bird specials, but we have found a particularly delicious and extensive bar food menu at Bayside Restaurant in Newport Beach.

The food is excellent and the room handsome. As you enter the bar area in the center of the dining room, you are confronted with a dramatic steel and glass wine tower. Overhead, large billowing sheets of fabric create a tent-like feeling or perhaps suggest a montage of sails on the bay.

In addition to the seating at the bar itself, there are nicely upholstered booths and comfortable wicker chairs at small marble tables. The ambience is warm and friendly and also conducive to dining solo at the bar.

Chef Paul Gstein has been serving consistently fine food at Bayside since it opened 12 years ago, but we were drawn back by the tempting offerings on the small plate bar menu.

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Well within our budget, we were able to order five dishes to share that were surprisingly generous in size and beautifully presented. To begin with, you usually don't get hot rolls with bar food but we were served crunchy warm and very tasty sourdough rolls with excellent butter.

Lobster salad bruschetta was notable for the substantial amount of sweet, tender lobster without the distraction of cheap filler and the large slice of sourdough bread on which it rested was perfectly toasted. It was garnished with thin slices of avocado, sun dried tomato and roasted baby yellow bell pepper.

The salad was very lightly dressed; however, there was an additional dollop of lemony mayo on the plate for those who like more sauce. We were delighted and impressed with the flavors and attention to detail and eagerly awaited the next plate.

Ahi tuna was composed of four nice thick slices of first-rate tuna that had been seared with a peppery crust. The rare, velvety fish was set off by a mound of sautéed spinach and a head of baby bok choy drizzled with citrusy ponzu sauce. The combination was a surprise but it all worked beautifully together.

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