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Orange County Dining

January 24, 2002

In these capsules of recent reviews, dollar signs indicate the average price of a meal for one, without beverages.

$: less than $10

$$: up to $20

$$$: up to $30

$$$$: more than $30.

PICAYO: Hidden away in residential north Laguna, a little bungalow houses Picayo, a French restaurant with Spanish and Moroccan influences and a taste for duck, both as appetizer and entree. Try Chilean sea bass on eggplant with olive vinaigrette, or the napoleon of scallops, prawns and salmon with black truffle sauce. Picayo, 610 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. (949) 497-5051. Dinner Tuesdays-Saturdays, 5:30-10 p.m.; brunch Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $$$

PLAZA GARIBALDI: The main attraction is the mariachi dinner show (Fridays-Sundays). Though the limited show menu offers quality, such as pleasing shrimp dishes and a fine carnitas entree, a larger menu of standard Mexican dishes is served during the week. Plaza Garibaldi, 500 N. Brookhurst Ave., Anaheim. (714) 758-9014. Lunch and dinner Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Fridays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-midnight. $$

PLUMS: Once known only for breakfasts, sandwiches and salads, Plums Cafe now offers creative entrees, ranging from fried trout to tenderloin medallions topped by mushrooms. If it's a sandwich you crave, the confetti meatloaf is rich with cumin flavor and the excellent lamb-burger comes alive with fresh oregano. Plums Cafe, 369 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa. (949) 722-7586. Breakfast and lunch Mondays-Fridays, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. $

POLISH RESTAURANT: First it was a plain barbecue restaurant, but patrons liked the Polish dishes that sneaked on the menu so now it's known as Polish Restaurant. So enjoy the potato pancakes, the sweet-sour sauerkraut, the veal cordon bleu-like cutlet Sobieski--and once in a while, have some of that barbecue too. Polish Restaurant, 2610 W. La Palma Ave., Anaheim. (714) 827-9074. Lunch and dinner Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, noon-9 p.m. $$

THE QUIET WOMAN: The Quiet Woman leads a sedate life, but it is one of the area's most consistently good dining spots. Entrees, mostly cooked on a mesquite grill, include Angus beefsteaks, fresh fish and a terrific rack of lamb. There are good salads, excellent homemade soups and fine desserts too. Don't miss the homemade pumpkin pie in season and the fudgy Toll House pie all year. The Quiet Woman, 3224 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar. (949) 640-7440. Lunch Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner Sundays-Thursdays, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. $$$

RESTAURANT ABE: Master chef Abe (pronounced AH-bay) has been called the Matsuhisa of Orange County, and the comparison is apt: He has worked at Nobu Matsuhisa's famed Japanese fusion restaurant in West Hollywood. Come to Abe's Newport restaurant for the sushi if you must, but he has far more interesting creations, such as tuna rib, smoked monkfish liver, oddball oyster shooters and mind-blowing omakase dinners. Restaurant Abe, 2900 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach. (949) 675-1739. Lunch Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner Mondays-Thursdays, 5:30-10 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5-9 p.m. $$$

THE RITZ: Hans Prager's ornately decorated restaurant, the Ritz, remains a bastion of Continental cuisine after more than two decades at Fashion Island. A well-dressed Newport crowd still turns out for retro faves such as lobster bisque and veal Oscar. Now there is a lovely outdoor garden area open during lunch and dinner. The Ritz, 880 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach. (949) 720-1800. Lunch Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner Mondays-Thursdays, 6-10 p.m.; Fridays, 5:30-11 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 5-11 p.m. $$$

ROMA D'ITALIA: Tustin's busy Roma D'Italia is an old-fashioned checked-tablecloth pizzeria/restaurant specializing in dishes with big, rich flavors, such as chicken d'Italia, which includes eggplant, ham, tomatoes, provolone and mushroom sauce. For something lighter, try the mixed seafood platter in a flavorful garlic white wine sauce. Roma D'Italia, 611 El Camino Real, Tustin. (714) 544-0273. Lunch and dinner Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. $$

ROYAL KHYBER: Royal Khyber is aiming to be O.C.'s top Indian restaurant, and it has all the tools--a gorgeous dining room, an innovative menu and the talents of chef Arun Puri in the kitchen. Some of the dishes need more oomph, but certainly not the terrific shrimp samosa, killer warm eggplant salad or wonderful lamb shank in spicy broth. Royal Khyber, Fine Indian Cuisine, 1621 W. Sunflower Ave., South Coast Plaza Village, Santa Ana. (714) 436-1010. Lunch Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner Sundays-Thursdays, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $$$

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