Clay Oven's Offering Pay-Up-Front Tickets for a 5-Course Game Meat Dinner Tomorrow

Categories: Local Eats

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Photo by Kenneth M. Ruggiano
Chef Geeta Bansal
You may have heard of the pay-up-front reservation concept happening at Trois Mec in L.A., Volver in Philly and elsewhere. It's where you pay for the entire experience as though you're buying a ticket to a concert. The Wall Street Journal wrote about the idea in an article they called "The Restaurant Reservation Revolution" back in May.

And now, for tomorrow night's game-meat dinner at Clay Oven in Irvine, Chef Geeta Bansal is offering a pay-up-front ticketed meal in OC. If I'm not mistaken, she's one of the first restaurateurs in OC to do so.

For a total of $195.00 ($202.82 w/service fee) that you pay for online for a Will-Call or a print-at-home ticket, you get five courses of game meats and seasonal produce accompanied with wine pairings from Trefethen Family Vineyards.

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Mona Lisa Cucina: Good Italian Food Cooked By... A French Guy?!

Categories: Local Eats

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Photo by Das Ubergeek
Sacre, bleu!

I suppose it's a measure of what an insufferable food snob I am that I go around judging the authenticity of a place by whether they actually know what goes into classic dishes. It's important to do in an Italian restaurant, because you need to know whether you're in a Tony Soprano nightmare or a restaurant with dishes recognizable to actual living Italians. Not that one's superior, but sometimes you want red sauce, and sometimes you don't.

And so I had my stuck-up judgment face on when I stopped in to Mona Lisa Cucina in Huntington Beach. My brain shrank away from the menu when I read "spaghetti bolognese" on the menu, because no Italian would ever put anything except wide ribbons, classically tagliatelle. with rich bolognese. No; not Italian. There was a Greek salad on the menu, and a Caesar--oh, God, another Cal-Ital; pandering to the whomever; insert your snobby, sniffy conniption here.


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Anaheim's 369 Chinese Replaced By Wafting Fragrance Noodle House

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Dave Lieberman
It says "Wafting Fragrance" in Chinese. Otherwise it's just any old noodle house.

I was at 99 Ranch today buying lime leaves and lemongrass for a friend in Florida who doesn't have any good Asian markets nearby, and it was lunchtime. I couldn't bring myself to go to Jollibee or its brethren, I can't stand the service at Ten Ten, and I didn't want a Lee's sandwich.

As I was about to pull out of the parking lot and go find something else, I saw that 369 Restaurant, the Shanghainese place that faces Crescent, had been replaced. The only English signage for the newcomer simply says "Noodle House"; the name Wafting Fragrance comes from the Chinese name for the place, 飘香 (piao xiang).


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The Playground Burger Is Going Away... For Now (They're Opening a Burger Place)

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Photo by Niyaz Pirani
Pictured: The Hatch Version

We really enjoy the Playground's burger here at Weekly World, so imagine our fear when we heard over Instagram that the restaurant will no longer be offering it after this Saturday.

Shock, horror, grief.

And then I read another two sentences, and it turns out they're discontinuing it because they're opening a burger joint.. very soon.

Read on for details.

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Masterlink Sausage & Meats Celebrates 50 Years Tomorrow!

Categories: Local Eats

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Photo by Josue Rivas/OC Weekly
Joe Martin and Mike Pease of Masterlink

It was a year-and-a-half ago that we found our way to Masterlink's factory in Fullerton and sat down with Joe Martin and Mike Pease, two hardworking guys promoting their meaty product. Now, we're proud to report that the company--which provides sausages to nearly all the great OC sausage restaurants--is celebrating their 50th anniversary TOMORROW.

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Interview with A La Minute's Executive Chef Ryan Berk

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Scoop it up!

I sat down with A La Minute's executive chef and owner Ryan Berk at his new location in the Orange Circle to literally get the scoop on what all of this liquid nitrogen buzz was about. As we began to chat in the vintage farmhouse-esque creamery, Berk graciously made sure every flavor was brought to our table. It was like the clouds opened up and there was the answer to all of my hot summer day's prayers.

How'd you get started?

I've always been passionate about food. Running around in the yard, growing strawberries and tomatoes as a kid. I really liked the ideology of food and where it was coming from! I got started in the industry when I was 14 at a little Thai restaurant in my hometown, Redlands. I started as a dishwasher and sort of made my way up to a cook position. I was the only white kid in the kitchen getting trained by all of these Thai ladies. That's where I really gained a respect for culture and where the food was coming from.

Did you always know this was something you wanted to do?

I think it just evolved. I would save up every year to travel somewhere around the world. Right when I turned 16 I would go somewhere whether it was, India, West Africa, or South America. I would just leave and experience a bit of culture. I've always wanted to understand where different food was coming from. I don't know where the passion came from, but I've always just loved food.


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The "World's Hottest Chile" Served At Clay Oven in Irvine

Categories: Local Eats

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Photo by Kenneth M. Ruggiano
Geeta Bansal
Remember a few years when the Bhut Jolokia (a.k.a. the Ghost Pepper) was purported to be the hottest chile in the world? Well not so much anymore. It's not even in the top 5 these days. Depending on what you read or who you believe, the current hottest chile pepper in the world is either the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion or the Carolina Reaper.

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Elbows Mac n' Cheese Opens To Much Hype in Brea--But Is It Good?

Categories: Local Eats

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Courtney Hamilton
When Pigs Fly at Elbows Mac N' Cheese

For a restaurant that specializes in just one thing, Elbows Mac n' Cheese is busy in every sense of the word. On a Friday night, the downtown Brea, fast-casual restaurant is so packed that people prowl around patrons finishing their meals, waiting to pounce on soon-to-be empty chairs.


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This Weekend: Supatra Thai 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

Categories: Local Eats

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Party on!
10 years is a lifetime in the restaurant biz. That's exactly how long Supatra Thai has been in business in Yorba Linda, which isn't (at least the last time I checked) any sort of Thai Town. But I suppose this makes the milestone even more momentous.

To celebrate, the restaurant will throw a party of sorts this Saturday, June 21st, 2014 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event will feature live music, cooking demos, a martial arts demo, a balloon artist, prizes and games. And oh yeah, there will be complimentary appetizers and 30% off the rest of the food.

Why are they just offering a discount and not giving away the entrees for free? Well, you want them to stay around another 10 years, don't you?

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Support The PIE-NOT Kickstarter Campaign!

Categories: Local Eats

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Photo by Eleonor Segura/OC Weekly
Workin' hard to pie hard

I loved the PIE-NOT concept from the beginning. Savory, handheld meat pies are as good as it gets with to-go meals. A working lunch with one true Aussie taught me to dab a little ketchup for tasty flavor bombs. Pair that with a cuppa Bun coffee, and I'm good for hours. It's no wonder they made my top five last year. Now, they're looking to expand.

For those not familiar with Kickstarter, it's a way for businesses and individuals to fund projects they otherwise wouldn't have the money for. Provide bucks to a creator, and you're considered a backer. Even a dollar is better than no dollar. And it's more than giving your hard-earned money-- it's helping a dream become a reality. In a nutshell, it's a badass way of making things happen.


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