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ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR: ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, LEISURE
| SUNDAY BRUNCH

Pinot Provence: Eggs, Fish Have European Twist

* It's Sunday, and there are so many crepes and omelets from which to choose. Here's a sampler of Sunday Brunch destinations in Orange County, culled from recent stories. Other reviews can be accessed at http://www.calendarlive.com/go/discover.

November 26, 2000|MAX JACOBSON

Ever since superstar restaurateur Joachim Splichal brought his Pinot empire to South Coast Plaza in the form of Pinot Provence, it's been a hit for lunch and dinner.

The reasons are clear. Chef Florent Marneau is a highly skilled craftsman well matched to the casually elegant bistro concept that has caught fire in this decade. And then there are the Costa Mesa restaurant's high-gloss appointments, from French farmhouse antique furniture to a stone floor that Splichal and designer Cheryl Brantner imported slab by slab from Europe.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the restaurant serves one of the most appealing brunch menus around. This isn't a buffet or even a prix-fixe brunch, but have no fear. Despite being a la carte, the price is well within most diners' budgets. All starters and most main courses are under $10, a bargain considering the high-quality food and elegant surroundings.

If you wish to further celebrate the day with a flute of champagne, a Cotes de Provence rose or even a glass of mineral water, this will pad, but not inflate, the bill. That is because Splichal restaurants have a fine wine and beverage selection and keep markups to a reasonable level.

I liked the fluffy omelet of sauteed morels with field greens and a pile of crisp, addictive fried potatoes. The crispy sauteed whitefish was also masterful; crusty on the outside, juicy in the center and served with wilted greens, Granny Smith apple puree and balsamic vinaigrette.

I'm less enamored of white blinis with assorted smoked fish, chives and creme fraiche. There is plenty of smoked whitefish and salmon in this tall pancake stack, but the blinis are starchy, and the dish is more assembled than prepared.

Should you want more traditional breakfast items, there is a delicious apricot-stuffed French toast with house-made vanilla syrup and roasted pineapple, a real Splichal touch. And how can you go wrong with a classic eggs benedict, in which the eggs nestle on toasted brioche atop slices of applewood smoked ham, oozing a textbook Hollandaise sauce?

*

Pinot Provence, 686 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa. (714) 444-5900. Brunch, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Brunch for two, $34-$57.

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