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ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR: ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, LEISURE

Sunday Brunch

October 15, 2000|KAREN NEWELL YOUNG

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

Canyon Lodge: Brunch in a Homey, Comfortable Setting

Perched high among the pine trees overlooking Aliso Creek and a public golf course, Canyon Lodge is as unpretentious as a pair of old Hush Puppies. And just as comfortable. A fireplace and rustic furniture make the dining room a homey spot. Everything on the menu is recommended, except the oatmeal, which seemed too boring to bother with. Try the chicken in pastry, blueberry pancakes, bagel with smoked trout and huevos rancheros. The house potatoes are mixed with onions and peppers and cooked until crispy. All of the side dishes are fresh and original, like the caramelized onions with the steak sandwich and the fresh strawberries and whipped cream with the Belgian waffle. Entrees are about $8-$14 for large portions and a basket of freshly baked banana bread.

Canyon Lodge, 31106 Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (949) 499-2663. Sunday brunch: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Felix Continental Cafe: If You Like Cuban or Spanish Cuisine

With its sidewalk tables and exotic dishes, Felix in Old Towne Orange feels like a European cafe. Cuban and Spanish cooking are its specialties, so choose accordingly. Picadillo criollo (ground beef and pork in a tomato sauce with raisins and green olives), the Cuban sandwich (roasted leg of pork with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard) and roast chicken with garlic and lemon are good bets. Also available are nearly 32 breakfast items. Try the tropical fruit milkshakes and tostada Latina, an English muffin filled with guava jam and cream cheese, dipped in egg and toasted. Breakfast is $6 to $10.

Felix Continental Cafe, 36 Plaza Square, Orange, (714) 633-5842, Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Splashes: Deluxe View, Prices, but Food's Lacking

Everything about the Surf and Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach feels luxurious, especially its restaurant, Splashes. The views overlooking the Pacific are stunning, the decor is Mediterranean chic and the food is haute cuisine. And it all comes with a deluxe price tag.

Since the setting is spectacular and the menu is pricey, one would expect the food to be perfect. But it's not.

Some of the dishes ordered by our party of eight could have been improved with a little more finesse in the kitchen. And at about $14, the entrees could include champagne or a small salad in addition to the main course, but they don't.

Although the entrees could have been larger, the flavor combinations were creative. The best entrees were the French toast with caramelized bananas and chicken apple sausage and the Mediterranean salad with green beans, roasted bell peppers, baby asparagus and tender grilled shrimp.

Other entrees included filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, lemon marinated chicken breast with a delicious potato gratin and a grilled halibut over cucumber fennel salad in a beautiful saffron broth, which was lacking in flavor but a treat to the eyes and nose.

Splashes, 1555 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-4477. Brunch prices: starters and salads, $6 to $14; entrees, $11 to $19. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, dinner served until 11 p.m.

* A new Sunday Brunch review will run next Sunday in the Orange County Calendar.

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