Generally on my visits to Orange County my culinary explorations with my family tend to be limited to places suitable for taking young children. Unlike my usual dining choices therefore, in California my eating out tends much more toward casual or fast food dining.
So with the children at school and my son having a rare day off work, we took the opportunity to go for lunch to try some of the finer fare of Orange County.
As one who loves word play, while looking through the array of options for restaurants in this area, my attention was first caught by the name, Watermarc. I was therefore not surprised to read that the chef-owner is Marc Cohen, of the group that operates OPAH and 230 Forest Avenue.
We decided to go for a brisk walk in Laguna Beach followed by lunch at Watermarc which was a few minutes walk up from the beach area. It proved to be an excellent choice. The menu offered a range of dishes from interesting grazing plates to flatbread, burgers or full entrees. My only disappointment was that the foie gras brulee that had caught my eye on the online menu did not seem to be offered at lunch. I would have liked to compare it with the foie gras sundae I had at Ensemble in Vancouver.
Rocking Horse Pub 2038 Sanders Road
Nanoose Bay Nanaimo District, BC
Ph: (250) 468-1735
As we drove up to the Rocking Horse Pub, I saw what looked like a large house standing amidst green fields. The exterior did not hint at the comfortable English pub ambience that we encountered when we entered. Six of us were seated at a nice sized table. I chose to sit on the "church pew" bench which meant the table was just at the right height for me.
For our second dinner of the "Chicago for the Regular Guys" weekend, we had the choice of several restaurants. Most of the group chose Ditka's restaurant.
Our group piled into taxis in groups of 4 and converged on the restaurant in time for our reservations at 8 PM. One table had an earlier reservation and they were already seated but when we arrived the place was absolutely packed and we had to wait for two tables to be set.
The index to Travelblogue: Toronto 2011 for Theatre and Dining.
This lists the posted stories for my two week stay in Toronto, Ontario. I check out the restaurant and summer theatre scene including the Summerworks Festival, and also visit Stratford for more theatre and dining.
After seeing a 2 PM show of Richard III at the Tom Patterson Theatre we took a slow stroll back towards Rundles restaurant and bistro.
When I made the reservation I was not sure of the running time for the play and so had made a dinner reservation for 6 but we were out of the theatre by 5, and even with a pleasant walk along the banks of the Avon river, we were at the restaurant by just after 5:30. But no problem, we were politely welcomed and seated at once.
Down the Street Bar and Restaurant
30 Ontario Street
We spent the morning exploring the town and around noon, found our way to Down The Street. It's a small narrow restaurant and at my request we were seated in the back at a table next to a window, where the light was good for photography.
We decided to share an appetizer and with minimal discussion agreed on the chicken liver mousse with baguette toasts and sweet and sour cippolini onions. The mousse came in a little round dish with a layer of chicken fat protecting the contents. We removed the fat layer and savoured the creamy rich pate below.
After seeing Hosanna at the Studio Theatre we had a little time to go back to our hotel room and freshen up before heading off to dinner at Bijou, and then get back to the Studio Theatre for The Little Years.
Bijou features a dinner menu written on a chalkboard. As one who could never write in a straight line at school I admired the exquisite handwriting, although it was hard to read from our table and I had to join a couple of other guests at the board to read all the items.
101 Wellington Street,
For our two night stay in Stratford we were booked into The Parlour Historic Inn and Suites. Breakfast in the Parlour Restaurant, was included in our itinerary for both days of our stay.
We drove in to Stratford from Toronto on Thursday morning and were scheduled to see our first play, Hosanna at 2 PM. I had decided to make a lunch reservation for noon at The Parlour Restaurant. The drive took us about two hours so we had time to check out where the theatres were before lunch.
We were looking for somewhere to have lunch In between Summerworks shows on a hot Toronto day. We were in the King Street West area so I checked out UrbanSpoon and Open Table, and found a listing for Wabora in the Thompson Hotel.
After leaving the Factory theatre area we walked to the restaurant. The cool interior was very welcome, and our server graciously brought me a damp napkin to mop my bright red face.
Even though I come from Vancouver, which probably has more superb sushi restaurants per square mile than Tokyo, I was intrigued by the unusual selection of rolls - quite inventive. We could not resist trying two; the crab dynamite roll and the South Beach roll.