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Mile Square Covers a Lot of Territory

August 05, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The name speaks for itself.

Mile Square Regional Park is Orange County's largest chunk of recreational greenbelt. At 640 acres, the Fountain Valley park has enough space for about any activity.

An average of 8,000 people visit each summer weekend, using the park's sidewalks for baby-strolling, roller-blading, bicycling and running. There are courts aplenty for tennis, basketball and racquetball. Dozens of fields are available for baseball, soccer and volleyball. Kids zero in on the park's numerous playgrounds, and families take to the ample grasslands for picnics, kite-flying and an increasingly popular activity, walking.

If you're so inclined, you can spend a little money and have a lot of fun pretending to be Tiger Woods; then eat like a tiger in the woods.

A New Course

Work is being completed on another 18 holes at Mile Square Regional Golf Course (10401 Warner Ave., [714] 968-4556). Scheduled to open by the end of the year, the Players Course will complement the original 18 holes, which opened in 1968 and which will be called the Classic Course when the new links open.

General Manager Scott Chaffin noted that golf course design has changed since the 1960s.

"[The new course] has a lot more design features, more mounding and more water features," he said. "It has eight lake features to create more character for the golf course."

The facility features a number of leagues, camps and lesson groups for children. But despite the whirlwind success of Orange County golf phenom Tiger Woods, the majority of the course's customers are adults.

"Typically during the weekday we see more senior regulars playing," Chaffin said. "During summer we see more of the younger people who are not in school. On weekends we see more professionals who have the discretionary income but don't have time to play during the weekdays."

It's also affordable for new golfers. Monday through Thursday, 18 holes cost $27. Friday through Sunday the cost is $36. Club rental is $12, and the cart fee is $22 for two golfers. The course is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

All You Can Cook

At the northwest corner of the park is meat-lover's heaven, the Picnic Garden, Korean B.B.Q. Buffet House (15972 Euclid St., [714] 775-1118). With a grill at each table, diners choose from spicy or mild chicken, beef or pork cuts, or seafood.

At this do-it-yourself barbecue, lettuce wraps make the ultimate sandwich. Take a big leaf of romaine, layer it with rice and a choice of meat. Be sure to ask the servers for a side dish of sesame oil and add salt to complete this Asian burrito.

Servers bring drinks, rice and a choice of miso or rice soup. They also cut your meat and turn down the burner on your grill when you're finished cooking, so remember to tip them as you would a server at any other restaurant.

"I'm going to help you," said the friendly and feisty Michelle Park, who has worked at the restaurant for 11 of the 12 years it's been open. "First-timers don't know how to cook."

Park says teriyaki chicken is "No. 1 for American customers. The Asian customers like the seafood."

The seafood selection includes a modest selection of sushi and calamari, and baby octopus for frying. But what makes Picnic Garden different from other Korean barbecues are its fresh oysters, mussels and clams.

Depending on the time of day, diners can have the restaurant to themselves or they may have to elbow their way to the Korean Kalby (tender beef ribs).

"Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, people are stressed out from work and like it a little quieter," Park said. "But on the weekends we play new popular CDs and play the music loud for all the young people who like to come here and party."

Lunch is $7.95 and is served from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dinner is $13.99 and is served from 3:30 to 10 p.m. Juice is $2.50; giant refillable soft drinks are $1.50; imported beers are $3 to $4.50; sake is $3 to $6.

The Spot for Sports

Perhaps to take advantage of the final rays of daylight, the Fountain Valley Recreation and Cultural Center (16400 Brookhurst St., [714] 839-8611) is on the west side of the park.

The recreation center has more than a dozen tennis courts and baseball fields. There also are six full-length basketball and four racquetball courts, two soccer fields and a volleyball sand pit.

All courts and fields are available on a first-come, first-served basis, except for some of the baseball fields and tennis courts, which are reserved for league play.

The cultural center hosts programs offered by the Fountain Valley Recreation Department. With summer classes ending this month, more programs will be available beginning in September.

Center officials are in the process of planning an expansion and redesign. In the meantime, the main hall is available to rent for wedding receptions, reunions and similar events. The hall has a 144-person capacity and includes a dance floor. The cost is $350 for the first four hours and $100 for each additional hour. A $400 deposit is refundable.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

IF YOU GO

* GETTING THERE: From the San Diego Freeway, exit Warner or Edinger avenues and go east to the park. From the Garden Grove Freeway, exit Euclid Street or Brookhurst Street and go south.

Park Activities

1. Fountain Valley Recreational and Cultural Center

16400 Brookhurst St.

(714) 839-8611

2. Picnic Garden, Korean B.B.Q. Buffet House

15972 Euclid St.

(714) 775-1118

3. Mile Square Golf Course

10401 Warner Ave.

(714) 968-4556

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