Eat Chow – Lying My Way Through the Menu

by Franklin on October 20, 2012

On the outskirts of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa is a hip beach town more suburban than anything else. Along the downtown area though, there are a lot of cool places to eat and shop. One place that stands out is Eat Chow. The menu here is New American, and they have their own twist on American classics. Some of the items here surprised me, and some were just a disappointment. This hit and miss situation really had me struggling if I liked this place or not. Though the food taste was spotty, the service exceeded my expectations. This small cafe style restaurant was nicely furnished and had a modern, yet down to earth feel to it. I was comfortable as I was eating, and that is quite important to me.

I ordered the grilled prawns. It had a garlic aioli on the side for dipping and saw on a bed of baby arugala. For prawns, I was surprised by the low price, so that is what swayed me to order this appetizer. When we got the dish though, I was disappointed and felt a bit ripped off. First off, these on the plate were not prawns. They weren’t even large shrimp. They were just normal shrimp you would find anywhere else. The seasoning of the shrimp wasn’t impressive and the flavor just wasn’t there. This was a mistake for sure. I felt I was tricked. I ordered prawns, and all I got were small shrimp. The arugla to shrimp ratio was even off. This dish didn’t fit n the criteria of the other dishes, because all the other dishes were actually quite delicious.

I wasn’t really blown away with the truffle Parmesan fries. Again, I was tricked with their words. Though the fries were shoestring, my favorite, the truffle taste was missing. Filled with Parmasan and parsley, the fries were perfectly seasoned. It was a perfect side to the French Dip.

The French dip was interestingly tasty. The herb & sea salt rubbed prime ribeye was perfectly seasoned and thinly sliced. It allowed all the crevices to absorb the pan drip ajus. The brioche was a perfect bread choice to sop up all the juice, and was toasted to perfection. The horseradish cream was perfect. Horseradish and prime rib is a perfect combination, and this sandwich is a true testament to that. This wasn’t as good as the original from Philipe’s, but the taste was still impressive. The sandwich with the truffle Parmasan fries was perfect.

I have to say, I have tried a lot of mac and cheese. From the stuff from the blue box, to the authentic down home southern style, I tried it all. The truffle mac and cheese at Eat Chow was actually pretty good. Though the menu said truffle oil mac and cheese, I didn’t really expect anything in the vicinity of truffles. What I did get was something unexpected and delicious. The oyster mushrooms in this dish were spectacular. Caramelized in a special way, it left the mushrooms in such a sweet, yet savory state. It was sticky, chewy, and rendered down in such a fine way. It tasted even better than the bacon in the mac and cheese, and we all know how much I like bacon. The cheese sauce was creamy and delicious, and this was a memorable mac and cheese dish.

Like I said before, Eat Chow is a hit or miss. You have to know what you are going to order and know what you are going to get. Despite a few discrepancies in the wording of the menu, the experience was a positive one. The inside is sleek and modern which I liked a lot. The service is amazingly friendly and you just feel comfortable there. I kind of like that it is a small cafe instead of a full blown restaurant with a lot of seats. Do expect a wait though because seats are limited. Don’t worry though — their staff is really friendly, will offer you a drink as you wait, and strike up a conversation with you. This kind of hospitality is invaluable in the restaurant business, and I am happy to have experienced it.

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