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ORANGE COUNTY CALENDAR: ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, LEISURE

Sunday Brunch

February 11, 2001|KAREN NEWELL YOUNG

* 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.

Canyon Lodge American Grill: Everything From Pancakes to Potatoes

Perched high among the pine trees overlooking a creek and a shimmering green golf course, Canyon Lodge American Grill at the Aliso Creek Inn in South Laguna is as unpretentious as a pair of old Hush Puppies. And just as comfortable. We didn't have reservations when we stumbled in on our way to a crowded cafe nearby, but we were greeted like old friends and immediately shown to a table with a view. We were treated warmly by the hostess and waitress and experienced fine service from start to finish. And prices are reasonable: From $9 to $13 for a choice of 15 entrees--large omelets to steak sandwiches--and a basket of freshly baked banana bread.

The only item I wouldn't recommend is the oatmeal because there are too many other good choices. The sauteed chicken in pastry is good, a creamy casserole made with tarragon and mushrooms and topped with a pastry hat. The blueberry pancakes--which come with thick, smoked bacon--are fluffy, plump with fruit and great with warm maple syrup.

The fussy eater in our party selected the thick, eggy French toast with stewed apples and declared it delicious. Simple eggs are spiced up with salsa and peppers, and the mountain of smoked trout, lox, onions, fresh tomatoes and capers provides a salty bite quickly relieved by creamy cheese in the smoked fish plate.

Order the house potatoes. These terrific spuds are mixed with onions and peppers and cooked until crispy. Why can't restaurants cook a proper potato? 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.

Canyon Lodge American Grill at the Aliso Creek Inn, 31106 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. (949) 499-2663. Brunch hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Seafood Paradise: It's More Than the Dim Sum of Its Parts

Diners new to dim-sum eating may be bewildered by the offerings and the noisy business of hailing down the waitresses with steaming carts filled with fried dumplings, doughy buns stuffed with pork or bite-sized bundles of minced meat, vegetables or seafood. But after a visit or two to one of Orange County's many dim-sum restaurants and teahouses, ordering dim sum will seem easy.

Local favorite Seafood Paradise in Westminster fills up quickly on Sunday mornings. But customers don't usually have to wait long for one of the big tables in this slightly timeworn red-and-pink dining room with a dragon motif.

Dim sum is an inexpensive way to taste a variety of Chinese snacks. Seafood Paradise offers about 50 small plates, beginning at $1.60 each. Some of the selections are exotic, such as the shark's fin dumpling or chicken feet with black bean sauce. Other choices are about as bland as baby food: rice noodles with shrimp, barbecue pork roll or Chinese leek dumpling. Impressive are the seaweed fish roll, fried taro ball, stewed beef giblets, calamari, scallop dumplings and sweet rice buns.

Seafood Paradise, 8602 Westminster Blvd., Westminster. (714) 893-6066. Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

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

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