First Look: ARC Food & Libations At OC Mart Mix

Categories: Now Open
Anne Marie Panoringan
Duck at ARC

ARC held a pillow soft opening during dinner service this week. No formal invites, just enticing photos to lure you in. We pulled up to the bar with our partner-in-crime to taste the goods and make friends. Don't know what to order this weekend? We can offer a few suggestions.

We quickly migrated from our booth to the bar, since the action was front and center in their exhibition kitchen. Noah Blom towered over his wood-fired beasts; no electric or gas contraptions in this cooking space. He stoops over to double-check orders clipped on the side of the grill. A modest island he works off of doubles as expediting station, with stacks of trivets on the ready.
Anne Marie Panoringan

Menu descriptions are apt, with a trio of ingredients taking the place of elaborately sustainable-sounding verbiage. Take for example our main ($15): DUCK lemon. jam. honey. We put our trust in Blom to not only paint a picture in our imagination, but deliver it with style. The result-- a richly charred skillet of Brussels sprouts and protein, awaiting our acidic squeeze to finish.

Farm. fire. love. describes tonight's vegetable ($12). We half-expect another charbroil. Instead, a grilled melange of delicate mushroom and eggplant engages us. Blobs of melty ricotta rest atop, offering companionship to our meal. Our craving means picking the skillet clean, giving in only after servers ask to remove it a second time.

Anne Marie Panoringan

Something we did not anticipate was bringing a Korean BBQ aroma home. There's serious smokiness permeating the ambiance at ARC. Starting a load of laundry or hopping in the shower are in order, unless that's low on your priorities.

Our new friends requested a number of plates, including the swimmer ($15) above with corn, pepper, and lime. We admit to not trying it (So much time was spent photographing, we were afraid it cooled too much). Originally, we felt the portion sizes were on the modest end. Yet starchy fillers were used sparingly. Sides of toast, greens and potatoes could be ordered for less. The one regret--not staying for some bacon. Definitely next time.

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