A tasting menu is a good way to experience an excellent multi-course meal without feeling like you've overindulged. The portions are purposely small, but the flavors are rich, often unexpected and almost always seasonal. Your experience with a tasting menu can be greatly enhanced with wine pairings that can usually be added. From menus that change with the seasons to some that change weekly, here are some of the best tasting menus in Orange County.
2892 S. Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
At the time of press, this tasting menu starts with a sweet and spicy Thai coconut soup. The serving size is small (as is the case with tasting menus), but the taste is not. From there, the menu includes a pear salad with bitter greens, bleu cheese and a cider vinaigrette. The main course is a delicious short rib with a pineapple barbecue sauce (pictured). This menu concludes with a chocolate semifreddo served with cocoa, crushed peanuts and raspberry sauce - the perfect ending to a delicious menu. Tabu's tasting menu changes weekly, but one thing you are guaranteed is a variety of delicious flavors. This great menu comes at a very reasonable price: only $29 + $10 if you select the optional wine pairings.
Old Vine Cafe
2937 Bristol St., Suite A102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Old Vine Cafe is the place to go if you want a variety of tasting menus. The chef's menu changes every season, but if you don't like what you see on that menu, don't worry. This place has seven other tasting menus, including a vegan and a vegetarian option. The cost of the tasting menu - $80 including a wine pairing with each course - might prohibit you from partaking in it frequently. However, if you have something to celebrate, this is a good place to visit.
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The Ranch Restaurant
1025 E. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92805
On the seasonal tasting menu at The Ranch, you will find things like a tempura squash blossom filled with duck confit. No matter what specific items are on the menu, you can be rest assured that they are fresh. Tasting menus here are $65 plus an additional $35 if you add a flight of four wines. The Ranch boasts a master sommelier so you know the wine pairings will make the good menu even more enjoyable.
Related: Best Sommeliers In Orange County
The Golden Truffle
1767 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
The Golden Truffle offers a unique tasting menu on Wednesdays. The menu consists of soul food from a particular country such as Hungary or Portugal. Don't look for a full menu on these nights. Only the soul food menu (including things like a Hungarian version of lasagna with pork and cabbage) is available on these evenings, but the good news is that these menus are very affordable - no more than $25. Reservations are required.
2932 E. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92869
The Hobbit does its tasting menu differently from other places. The menu is seasonal and the entree changes every week. If you want to try the tasting menu here, the best thing to do is to make your reservation based on the upcoming entrees listed on the website. The Hobbit has an impressive wine list, so your dining experience will be enhanced if you opt for the wine pairings.
Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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