Show 228, June 17, 2017: Cheese Monger Tracy Nelsen, SideDoor, Corona del Mar

Tracy NelsenSideDoor in Corona del Mar is known for its award-winning cheese and charcuterie offerings, and now dedicates one evening a month to boutique creameries and specialty cheeses. Monthly SideDoor will embrace a full “cheese takeover” showcasing a select portfolio of artisanal cheeses. On Wednesday, June 21 SideDoor welcomes Cypress Grove Creamery.

SideDoor’s own certified expert and cheese monger, Tracy Nelsen, will be on hand at each takeover to educate diners on the various cheeses presented and recommend the perfect pairings. The featured cheeses will also find their way into select SideDoor menu items for that evening only. A different creamery will be featured monthly culminating with the ultimate complete cheese takeover celebration showcasing the four creameries of the series in August.

SideDoor’s own resident certified expert and cheese monger, Tracy Nelsen, is our guest. She has just returned from a cheese & wine research trip to France.



Show 206, January 14, 2017: The Bungalow Restaurant, Corona del Mar, for Newport Beach Restaurant Week

Terri HenryThe 11th Annual Newport Beach Restaurant Week is upon us from January 16th to 29th, 2017. The Bungalow Restaurant, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last October, is one of the 60 plus restaurants participating.

For Restaurant Week The Bungalow offers a $20 per guest 3-course Lunch menu with a choice of 8 entrée options including Grilled Mahi Mahi & Wild Rice Salad. For Dinner there is a $40 menu option as well as a $50 menu.

The Bungalow is a local favorite at the crossroads of Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard in Corona del Mar. Its shingle façade, striking black awnings, and Arts and Crafts font displaying the restaurant’s name gives the feel of dining in a charming Craftsman retreat.

The Bungalow’s menu specializes in USDA Prime Steaks, fresh seafood and handcrafted cocktails. The restaurant also boasts a 160-label wine cellar featuring premium vintages. A full bar and menu of signature cocktails adds to the restaurant’s allure.

Terri Henry of Terri Henry Marketing (representing her client, The Bungalow) joins us to highlight their Lunch and Dinner Restaurant Week menu options.



Show 200, December 3, 2016: Proprietor / Executive Chef Rich Mead, Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens

Rich MeadThe most eagerly anticipated restaurant opening of the year in Orange County is the long-in-the-works Farmhouse Café at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar. Guests are actually dining in the Roger’s Garden’s lush gardens. Lunch reservations are “fully committed” for the balance of the year. Guests at lunch (without reservations) line-up early (11:00 a.m. or before) to nab one of the “first come, first-served” seats available at the bar.

The executive chef/proprietor is Rich Mead. Rich is fondly remembered by local foodies for Sage and Sage on the Coast. He’s been creatively shopping at the Wednesday morning Santa Monica Farmers Market for fresh, seasonal ingredients long before it was trendy.

Roger’s Gardens and Chef Rich Mead have partnered in establishing a unique and sustainable field-to-fork dining experience at Farmhouse Café located within Roger’s Garden.

Located in the heart of Newport Beach, the Café is nestled on over 6 acres in a garden-like setting. The Farmhouse offers the freshest, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create a healthy based cuisine.

On the libation side there is even a signature Farmers Market Cocktail of The Week. The key ingredient is something fresh from the Santa Monica Farmers Market that week.

Chef Rich pops out of the busy Farmhouse kitchen for a brief moment to join us.


Show 200, December 3, 2016: Ryan Wilson, Vice President and Executive Chef for Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc.

Ryan WilsonRyan Wilson is the Vice President and Executive Chef for Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc. the parent company of SideDoor and Five Crowns. He represents the 4th generation of Frank/Van de Kamp Family ownership.

Before pursuing his culinary ambitions around the world, Ryan grew up creating dishes for his mother and sister. He officially stepped into the family business in 2002 as the prep cook at the Tam O’Shanter and later transitioned to the Five Crowns kitchen as a line cook.

After following culinary opportunities outside the Lawry’s realm, he returned as the opening chef for The Prime Rib restaurants in China and Japan. Stateside, he served as opening chef for Lawry’s Carvery at L.A. Live and in 2008 returned to the Tam O’Shanter as Executive Chef.

During his time at the Tam O’Shanter, Ryan worked closely on the concept and execution for SideDoor in Corona del Mar and later became the Executive Chef for both SideDoor and Five Crowns. In 2014, Ryan assisted in opening the SideDoor gastropub in Chicago and remains focused on providing the highest quality food service available through his corporate and operational roles.

Chef Ryan’s responsibilities have grown to include the operational oversight of the six licensed Lawry’s Prime Rib locations in Asia and the future growth of Lawry’s international and domestic portfolio.

Executive Chef Ryan Wilson is our guest.



Show 200, December 3, 2016: SideDoor’s Lead Barman, Randy Thais

Randy TheisThe innovative cocktail program at SideDoor is an important attraction. New to SideDoor is Lead Barman, Randy Thais. Randy is an adjunct professor by day and a barman by night.

Now leading the libation charge at SideDoor, Randy’s knowledge of English culture aligns perfectly with the gastropub’s British history and inspiration. His vision is to continue to make SideDoor the ultimate destination for cocktails, and believes that executing an Old Fashioned with precision will lead to a loyal clientele.

One of Randy’s newest creations on the SideDoor cocktail menu is the Ugly Gentleman, also known as “Steve.” Steve is a boozy, long and savory rye cocktail poured over hand-cute ice. The glassware covers a spot of burning maple wood while the cocktail is being prepared, and through science or magic, the smoke rests inside the glass even after the whiskey is poured.
He’s surely crafting something special for us as a guest…

Recipe: The Ugly Gentleman aka “Steve”

2oz Rittenhouse Rye
.5oz Amaro Abano
3 Tblsp Turbonado
2 DAB (Dash Angostura Bitters)
2 drops sesame oil

Instructions: Burn maple wood with propane torch and cover with rocks glass so the smoke is trapped. Stir all ingredients into mixing glass. Keep rocks glass upside down while hand-cut ice is placed in the glass. Keep bottom covered while turning it over and pour cocktail into the glass. Smoke should rise out. No garnish. Drink.



The Ugly Gentleman aka “Steve”

2oz Rittenhouse Rye
.5oz Amaro Abano
3 Tblsp Turbonado
2 DAB (Dash Angostura Bitters)
2 drops sesame oil

Instructions: Burn maple wood with propane torch and cover with rocks glass so the smoke is trapped. Stir all ingredients into mixing glass. Keep rocks glass upside down while hand-cut ice is placed in the glass. Keep bottom covered while turning it over and pour cocktail into the glass. Smoke should rise out. No garnish. Drink.

Show 176, June 18, 2016: Jim Colombo, General Manager, Five Crowns, Corona del Mar

Jim ColomboLast year celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic Five Crowns in Corona del Mar. It also marked the start of the just-completed revitalization which includes a new look for The Greenhouse room and the addition of the new Cooper’s Bar.

Overseeing the renovations with great care at every step of the way is our guest, Jim Colombo, the General Manager of Five Crowns (who is also a skilled chef by training).

“We’ve invigorated the Five Crowns experience,” said Ryan O’Melveny Wilson, Executive Chef and Vice President. “From our updated sign out front, to refreshed dining rooms, the new bar and a menu that honors our classics and highlights seasonality, we’re setting the table for the next 50 years.”

Complementing the renovation, Five Crowns’ forward-looking menu balances innovative seasonality with the classic dishes that have made the restaurant a landmark. Guests can now enjoy greater flexibility by pairing seasonal small plates with a shared main dish or a heritage entrée from the Crown Classics section.

“The new menu offers favorites from our 50-year menu archives in addition to a daily selection of fresh fish, hand cut pasta and interesting wines,” commented Wilson. “There is something for every discerning palate, long-time guest or first time Five Crowns diner.”

There is a serious by-the-glass wine program at Five Crowns. They are one of the very few restaurants in the world to have California’s Screaming Eagle Winery’s wines (a limited-production cult favorite) available by the glass.



Show 149, December 5, 2015: “Mad Bar Scientist Amber” at Five Crowns and SideDoor, Corona del Mar

Amber Billiard of the Five CrownsThe Five Crowns in Corona del Mar (part of the Lawry’s group of restaurants) is celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year. In the grand English tradition fine, classic cocktails have been a hallmark in their rich history. The libations at The Five Crowns remain top-shelf.

The Holidays are always memorable at Five Crowns with festive touches. Carolers perform nightly.

A “Mad Bar Scientist” (Amber Billiard) is now creating the cocktails. Amber joins us to share some creative Holiday cocktails.

She will be sharing her signature recipe for the Gin-based Sugar Plum Fairy.

Sugar Plum Fairy Cocktail from Amber Billiard of Five CrownsSugar Plum Fairy

1.5 oz Gin
1 oz Averell Plum Liqueur
.75 oz Glogg
.75 oz Lemon juice
.75 oz St. Germain
Shake, strain into Collins glass with ice.  Garnish- Brandied strawberry


Show 115, March 21, 2015: General Manager Jim Colombo and Mad Bar Scientist Amber, Five Crowns

Jim ColomboLook who is turning 50 this year! 2015 marks the 50-year legacy of dining at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar.

To celebrate, the Lawry’s family and newly promoted Executive Chef Steve Kling have unveiled a brand new menu and beverage program unlike any other menu this fabled establishment has offered in its 50-year history. It’s not your Grandparents’ Five Crowns anymore (although they are still most welcome.)

The refreshed menu presents nearly three times the culinary selections of past menus including a broad array of starters, main dishes, new family-style options and seafood selections. It breaks guests out of the expected course structure of fine dining. The fare pays homage to some of the Five Crowns heritage items, but with a modern twist. The new menu and beverage program are only the beginning of exciting Five Crowns at 50 announcements expected throughout the year.

There is also some quiet conversation about a “rediscovered” hidden speakeasy.

General Manager Jim Colombo (who is also a chef by training) and resident “Mad Bar Scientist Amber” join us with a tempting overview of the creative enhancements.


Show 74, May 31, 2014: Executive Chef Scott Brandon, Fireside Tavern, Costa Mesa

Scott Brandon of Fireside TavernFireside Tavern is an undiscovered gem of a new destination restaurant in the unlikely location of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa just off the 405 Freeway. The secret is Executive Chef Scott Brandon.

Chef Scott’s credits include Oysters in Corona del Mar, Crow Bar and Kitchen in Corona del Mar, and LinX in Old Towne Orange.

It’s located just South of South Coast Plaza.

The space is inviting, comfortable and there is an outside patio with lots of shade.

There is a great Happy Hour menu served daily from 3 to 6:00 p.m. and then again from 10 to midnight. Lots of fun & appealing food selections and libations priced at a good value.

“Fireside is an American gastropub, offering a contemporary menu of upscale tavern fare for lunch and dinner. Fireside features a menu of freshly sourced meat, seafood and cheese, along with a bar menu of small plates. The bar serves an array of American wines, craft draft beer, and signature cocktails.”

Breakfast is a buffet served from 6 to 9:00 a.m.

Fireside is a property of Sentinel Restaurant and Hospitality Group. Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz (ex-Patina Restaurant Group) is a partner.