Happy 2015! My first post of the year is from a restaurant very dear to my heart. Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge is my to-go-to in Orange County whenever I am catching a show at Segerstrom, or attending a concert. Whenever a new show comes to town, Chef Ross Pangilinan will create a menu specifically for the event. When I heard Kinky Boots was coming to OC, I knew I had to go since I absolutely adored the movie and have watched it many times.
On opening night, I stopped by Leatherby’s for dinner beforehand, partaking in the 3-course Kinky Boots menu ($45). Each dish is named for a song from the show and we start with Take What You Got, a farmer’s market vegetable soup which changes daily. On opening night, Chef Ross served a silky smooth butternut squash soup with sweet potatoes and croutons. I loved its hearty flavors and especially liked that the soup is served hot. I find lukewarm soup very unappetizing.
The second appetizer offering is The Most Beautiful Thing, and it was a beautiful thing indeed comprising paper thin slices of house-cured Scottish salmon with little morsels of steamed egg and other traditional garnishes. Presentation is stunning and each mouthful is delicate yet layered with flavors.
Moving on to the entrees, Land of Lola is an absolute gorgeous dish of sablefish and corned beef in a pho broth with cabbage, potatoes, carrots and herbs. The corned beef is tender and seasoned well, but it is the sablefish which blew me away. An oily fish in nature, it melted in my mouth with ease and I want more, much to the chagrin of my dining companion. The broth has robust pho characteristics, yet did not overpower.
However, the most surprising dish of all was One of a Kind. Natural farm chicken breast with parmesan risotto, roasted seasonal vegetables and peppercorn sauce was absolute perfection. I normally won’t order chicken when dining out, but this was just impeccably executed with the chicken moist and flavorful and the risotto at a splendid consistency. It is a hard choice to make between the two excellent entree choices.
Hold Me In Your Heart is one of the desserts using panettone, the Italian Christmas cake as the base for bread pudding. I loved the orange aromas and raisin overtones of this dessert.
While the Chocolate Cake “Rochers” wasn’t a part of the Kinky Boots menu but the Market Menu, Chef Ross substituted it for the seasonal sorbet (it was a cold night!) and I’m glad he did. The coffee chantilly is addicting and I devoured the malted chocolate sorbet quickly as it was starting to melt. The hazelnut cremuex really hit the spot. My dining companion popped both chicory pavlovas into his mouth so I wasn’t able to taste one, but nevertheless, it must have been good.
Even if you’re not planning to see Kinky Boots, I suggest making a reservation and dining at Leatherby’s. Of all the theater prix fixe menus I’ve experienced through the years, this one is by far my favorite. Regardless of whether I choose the theater menu (which I always do) or order a la carte, I always leave feeling very satisfied after I dine here. Service is attentive and the meal is always beyond stellar.
Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge
615 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626