Kinky Boots menu at Leatherby’s

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.

butternut squash soup

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.

smoked salmon

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.

sablefish corned beef

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.

bread pudding

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
Tel: 714-429-7640


a trip south of the border (part 3)

The last installation of my trip to Rosarito includes a wrap-up of everything else we experienced on this whirlwind weekend. One of our stops was at Claudius Winery, in an obscure location you will never find if you don’t know where it is (click on the link and there are google map directions). There are no signs either, so I suggest you hire a local guide or a local to tag along.

The winery may be small but sufficient. The array of wines are rather impressive, once you see for yourself how compact of a space it is. Our hosts Julio Benito Martin and Ernesto Diaz, led us on a tour of the processing area, as well as the barrel room and walked us through the entire procedure. When the tour was over, we moved into the tasting room, where we were treated to all five wines (chardonnay, tempranillo, grenache, rosado de grenache and merlot). I enjoyed the grenache and merlot best.


While sipping on the wines, we had the opportunity to sample some of the best Rosarito has to offer in terms of organic and local products. Fernanda Sanchez, owner of Baja Produce, was on hand to answer any questions we may have regarding all the delicious fare she had spread out for us. Included were cheeses, olives, fruit spreads, as well as the freshest and most flavorful tomatoes we’ve ever tasted.


Baja Produce is definitely a breath of fresh air. We paid them a visit later and found a really cute shop connected to a small cafe. I picked up a bunch of goodies including some nut brittle, local olive oil and natural hand creams. It is a gem in the middle of a neighborhood which, I’m told, is going through gentrification.


One of my favorites on this trip was stopping at Tacos el Yaqui for beef tacos. The sign says “best tacos in Baja” and they’re not far from the truth. Although it was the only taco I ate while on this trip, I’ll have to admit, it was ridiculously good. The tacos are simple filled with carne asada cooked on a small grill right outside the stand. The line is long but it moves quickly.


On top of the grilled beef are beans, crema, guacamole and cilantro, so simple yet so packed with flavor.


Grilled jalapenos and the sweetest radishes are provided as accompaniments. I wish I had more room to eat another. These are definitely worth stopping for.


Our final food stop is at Picuditas just before heading to the border to return home. This is a mobile stand located at Food Garden in Tijuana owned by Raul Cardenas and it completely won us over. In fact, this past weekend, while on another Mexico trip, everyone wanted to stop at Picuditas but we ran out of time.


The story behind Picuditas is that Raul wanted to create something to provide nutrients that were lacking in the contemporary Mexican diet. He came up with a bread which contained grains such as amaranth seed, corn, epazote, almond and a bunch of other organic ingredients. The result? A delicious “bread” was born.

However, Raul takes everything to a whole new level by stuffing these breads with the most delicious fillings including carne (meat), pollo (chicken), pulpo (octopus) and even a vegetarian option.


But that’s not it. There are five sauces which Raul has created and you can add any of them to the mix. My favorites are the super spicy ones.


The bread alone is delicious, but add to that the incredibly flavorful fillings and this becomes one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever eat. Definitely worth a stop when you get through the border, and again before you leave!

If you are looking for a guide, we have had Fernando with us on two trips while in Mexico. He is very knowledgeable about the history and the terrain of Mexico. Check out his Facebook page or his website (website is only in Spanish).

This concludes my trip to Rosarito. In a few weeks, you’ll read about wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe!