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The Gossiping Gourmet: Charm galore plus good food at The Bungalow

August 28, 2013|By Terry Markowitz | By Terry Markowitz
  • Dulce de Leche Cheesecake at The Bungalow restaurant in Newport Beach.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake at The Bungalow restaurant… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

The Bungalow is a charming restaurant in a building that actually looks like a bungalow.

The main entry is in the rear, where there is valet parking. The low walls are made of stone, as is the entryway. A trellis of flowers adorns the area.

You walk up a few steps to a covered patio dining area featuring a stone fireplace. Continue up the stairs to reach the main dining rooms and the hostess station. A large bar room in the front also serves as a dining area, and there are two other rooms, one on the lower level.

The rooms are distinguished by the fine reproduction of the dark woods and beautiful joinery of the Craftsman style. A brightly colored abstract mural covers one wall.

The first menu category is "Plates." These are not exactly appetizers but include a cheese plate and a prawn cocktail. Also offered are items like a half-pound filet mignon burger, shrimp scampi, lamb lollipops and ahi poke.

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I couldn't resist the crab cakes. The large square plate had two plump cakes at each corner, accompanied by a salad of bright green baby spinach and roasted yellow corn in a very light dressing. Also on the plate were swatches of a rich cream sauce with just a hint of jalapeno. On two sides were three dots each of hot sauce. It all made a pretty picture.

The minced crab was seasoned with spicy green chilies, bits of red pepper and green onion. The cakes had a lovely browned crust. It was fun to be able to add heat and creaminess to taste with these delicious patties. They were certainly big enough to share as well.

On the lighter side was a pear salad. It was also very large, the size of a dinner plate. Romaine and purple lettuce were mounded high and topped with pear slices, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and a sprinkling of feta cheese. The dressing was light and lemony.

Our only complaint was that the pears were unripe and thus tasteless. Otherwise the salad was quite good.

Chilean sea bass is hard to find on menus these days, since it is strictly regulated. It is one of my favorite fishes and I order it whenever I can. The bass, with its mahogany-colored skin, was also beautifully presented. It rested on a bed of rice and was surrounded by a gorgeous sauce of dark sweet balsamic reduction intertwined with coconut cream.

On top of the moist and tender fish were salty green pea sprouts, bits of green onion and sautéed mushrooms. Two fried slices of lotus blossom finished the picture.

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