Dublin 4 Gastropub: South County’s hidden gem

I’ve had Dublin 4 Gastropub bookmarked for a really long time. Too long. Therefore, I was so pleased when a fellow foodie — who absolutely adores this place — agreed to have lunch with me here. Those of you who don’t know how the name “Dublin 4” came about will be interested to know that it is actually a postal code (similar to our zip codes) and services an area which houses University College Dublin, as well as several foreign embassies. In current culture, “Dublin 4” or “D4” is used to represent the more affluent lifestyles of the residents in that area.

So with that out of the way, I am excited by the menu, as there are so many things I’m eager to try. I consult my friend who has dined here numerous times on our menu for the day.

So many things piqued our interest so we decided to order as many we were able to put away starting with D4 Reuben Rolls ($13), egg rolls stuffed with house cured corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and Blarney Irish cheddar. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy these but I was wrong. They were absolutely delicious.

roll

D4 Seasonal Soup Selection ($9) was mushroom bisque and it was delightful. Earthy and so umami-filled, each spoonful was relished with pleasure.

soup

I love smoked salmon and the House-Cured Smoked Irish Salmon ($16) caught my eye. It was even better than I had expected. Succulent slices of luscious salmon were served with dill creme fraiche, chopped egg, pickled onions, and slices of rustic wheat baguette. I didn’t need any of the accoutrements because the fish was incredible on its own.

salmon

I wanted to try a sandwich and the lamb burger was a highly recommended suggestion, however, I wasn’t in the mood for a burger, so we selected Niman Ranch Pork Belly BLT ($16). Thick slices of pork belly, wild arugula and heirloom tomato were topped with house-made sweet onion and bacon marmalade. The flavor profiles were great, but the bread was a tad soft bordering on mushy — maybe toasting it a little longer would help.

BLT

I had heard so many great things about the Dublin Lawyer Lobster Pie ($21) and I was glad it was a lot smaller than I had initially expected. Chunks of Maine lobster are bathed in a cognac cream sauce dotted with fresh shucked peas. The pastry is nice and flaky while the filling is perfectly seasoned with the right consistency — not too thick and not watery. Well worth the price!

lobster pot pie

Fish & Chips ($20) is always a favorite of mine, but few restaurants do it well. The one here is good, but not perfect. The fresh Norwegian cod is incredible, flavorful and moist. The Avery White Rascal beer batter was too greasy and caused the bottom of the fish sitting on the plate to be wet and soggy. The crushed garden peas was absolutely stunning, I wonder if they offer it as a side.

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This little unassuming spot is a definite winner, offering hearty and comforting food that will surely appeal to all. Its location is convenient, located right off the freeway. I will be back!

Dublin 4 Gastropub
26342 Oso Pkwy
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
949-582-0026

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satisfying Japanese at Gohan

I’ve been to Gohan several times through the years and usually for lunch. The selection is good and when I don’t feel like waiting in line at Fukada, this suffices. The restaurant is really nice, minimal decor, clean and uncluttered. Service is pretty good as well even when it gets busy.

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A bowl of house-made potato chips and lotus root chips are set down for you to enjoy while you peruse the menu.

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We started with Chicken Karaage ($7), usually my favorite, but this was just okay. The portion size is a little on the small side and the coating to moistness ration is average. I would’ve like more crispy exterior, but it was just passable.

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My son loves Agedashi Tofu ($6) and this one was just as good as any you’d find anywhere else. The accompanying sauce was nicely seasoned and neither overpowering nor teetering on the bland.

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Our favorite appetizer was Portabello Tempura ($7.50), meaty pieces of portabello mushrooms with a light crispy batter. The dipping sauce was decent and I would totally order this again.

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I wanted to try the Chicken Katsu Curry because I make this often at home but am too lazy to make it from scratch. I use the packaged Japanese curry which really isn’t all that great but is fast and easy. Unfortunately, the curry tasted not much different from the package kind. If you want curry, go to Curry House.

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If you are hungry, I highly suggest the combination meals such as Zaru Soba Combo ($12.25). It comes with your choice of an accompanying item. The soba tasted like the Korean version rather than the Japanese ones. The former has a chewier texture than the latter.

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Pair it with Spicy Tuna Don, a generous portion which I usually can’t even get to if I ordered the combo. The don is good but not as spicy and also doesn’t have as much mayo as the one at Fukada — which is a good thing for me.

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If you’re looking for something soupy, Sansai Udon ($11.75 as part of combo) is a great choice. The broth is hearty and flavor-filled with a good amount of sansai (mountain vegetables) to boot.

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Combine the udon with Beef Yakiniku over rice for a really filling meal. The beef is tender and a tad sweet for my liking, but my friend really liked it.

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Katsu Donburi wasn’t bad either if you like donburi. I’m not a fan of katsu on donburi because it makes the katsu soggy. Perhaps I could ask for it on the side? The donburi itself was good.

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Gohan is a great little place when you want some home-style Japanese food. Although it is Korean owned (I found out recently), the food is very authentic and stays true in both flavor and presentation.

Gohan Japanese Bistro
13842 Newport Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780
Tel: 714-204-0401

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nothing common about this

I had JUST gotten used to the lovely bites at Sorrento Grille’s happy hour menu and enjoying them when I heard it was closing its doors. I pouted and felt despondent for a little while until a little birdie told me that Chef Ryan Adams decided to take over the spot and launch his own restaurant.

My wait for this spot to start serving is over as Three Seventy Common opens its doors today with a menu reflecting all the innovative dishes Chef Ryan was known for at Sorrento and much much more.

I was invited to sample some of the dishes on the menu and while the restaurant looked the same structurally, Chef Ryan has put his own style and personality into the color scheme and decor.The dining room is more spacious and uncluttered while the open kitchen I so love remains.

Before the main menu was brought out, a basket of maple bacon popcorn was placed on the table for us to munch on with our drinks. Three Seventy Common has decided to do away with the bread basket all together and I must say, bravo! I don’t need bread filling me up before my meal and even though I don’t particularly like popcorn — yes sue me — I love bacon and THAT made the popcorn seriously palatable!

And on the topic of drinks, make sure you order one or two of these pretty cocktails prepared expertly by the bartender. It is truly worthwhile! They are delicious!

Before I get into the food, please note the photos are for the tasting sizes and not the full portion, however, the pricing I’ve listed is for the portions on the menu.

We started with Broccolini ($8.50) one of my favorite vegetables. Topped with a fried egg, asiago, crispy prosciutto and a sprinkling of bread crumbs, this dish is right up my alley.

There isn’t a lot of carbs here — if you could the bread crumbs that is — and the various savory components melding together is heavenly. I love salty flavors and here, the asiago and prosciutto were paired perfectly. The textures of crispy, crunchy, soft, gooey all in one mouthful is honestly, what I live for.

Wild Mushroom Bruschetta ($12) was absolutely delectable. A medley of chanterelle, oyster, maitake, shimeiji is sauteed in the most luscious sauce and served with a slice of grilled bread and bitter greens. I am very happy eating the broccolini and this with a cocktail and calling it a night.

However, the night is still young and the next dish of Pork Belly ($12) was very, very good. Generally I’m not a huge fan of it, but here, it was rendered just enough so it was mostly crispy with just a touch of the melty fat to give it the unctuousness it needed.

Arugula and fig with a drizzling of citrus vinaigrette cuts the fattiness of the pork while pistachios adds a lovely crunch. I loved this salad on its own without the pork and wonder if they would make an entree portion if I asked.

The next item was again, something I’m not ordinarily fond of. Salmon ($19) is served with the most perfectly cooked radish and turnip on a bed of sauteed Swiss chard and nicoise butter. My ears always perk up whenever I hear “nicoise” because I know there will be capers and anchovies in there!

Honestly, the last time I had salmon cooked this perfectly was by Peter Find, who is currently the executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. I even added Peter’s recipe in my cookbook because I loved it THAT much. I must say, Chef Ryan blew me away with this one!

I wish I could say I love meatloaf, but having not grown up eating it, this is a tough one for me. My first foray into meatloaf was after moving to the US 13 years ago. I then decided to make my own adding my own twist on it.

Bacon wrapped meatloaf ($20) is probably too traditional for me. I loved the idea of bacon-wrapped anything, but not being a big meatloaf fan I guess this dish wasn’t for me. However, the sauteed spinach, country mash and wild mushroom gravy acoutrements were outstanding. Can I just have those as a side?

Our last savory dish of the evening was Butcher Steak (Cap Rib Steak on the menu) served with chimichurri, braised greens and house-made fries ($29).

By now I was pretty stuffed. I managed two bites of the steak which was nicely seared on the outside and a beautiful medium rare pink on the inside. The chimichurri is a take on the traditional one using only parsley. Here, Chef Ryan used a blend of thyme, mint and marjoram giving it a more aromatic finish.

The dessert was a recipe from Chef Ryan’s grandma. Grandma B’s Chocolate Cake ($6) is served with vanilla ice cream and love — which I thought was super cute, until I found out that the ‘love’ actually refers to the strawberry caramel sauce on the plate.

Regardless where the love comes from, it is quite clear that it is there on the plate in every one of these dishes. The use of locally sourced produce together with sustainable seafood and meat is clearly evident in every bite. Don’t take it from me though, try it out yourself. I know I will return again very soon because I saw bone marrow and foie gras on the menu!

Three Seventy Common
370 Glenneyre
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Tel: 949-494-8686

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