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Monday, March 19, 2012

Chapter One in Santa Ana, CA

Chapter One is a gastropub that I tried out during the OC Restuarant Week.  For those of you who don't know, it's similar to many other city's "dining" or "restaurant" weeks.  (Ie., LA's is called dineLA).  It is truly a treat for the foodies who enjoy a playful rendition of typical food.

Firstly, I must say that I really enjoyed a beer they had on tap here called The Reverend.  If you like a nice strong beer that's fairly smooth (compared to other Quadrupels,) that's pretty sweet as well and has a nice, sweet finish... this beer's for you!  I did not get a picture of it, but you can Google it and find it.  Good stuff.

Now, on to the food.  We ordered a lot of food.  Not only did we eat our three course meal, my buddy Neil decided that there were some must tries/haves on the menu to add to it.

Their most popular dish is probably the pear potato.  Or is it potato pear?  This dish is actually fairly simple. Riced potato that's been breaded and fried over a Marsala mushroom cream sauce.  I thought it was pretty good.  Very nice presentation.  Flavor wise - it's as you'd expect.

Scotch eggs.  Basically a hardboiled egg stuffed inside a turkey meatloaf.  There's an Asian inspired mustard sauce over it and it comes served with some greens.  Again, it tastes as you'd imagine it.  The tanginess of the sauce was great and the meatloaf was light enough that it wasn't a burden to eat with the egg.  I think I would've preferred it to be soft boiled and to allow the yolk to ooze all over the plate.  Still a solid dish.  Oh yeah, the yolk wasn't overly cooked, an unfortunate demise to hard boiled eggs that is too frequently seen.

You know, I don't remember this dish too well.  Maybe because it was just so-so.  Cheese (I believe it was toasted ricotta?) over a marinara sauce with toasted bread.  It's as you'd expect.

The tempura frog legs were good.  Breaded with panko and deep fried.  The sauce that accompanied it was a too strong for the frog legs.  I don't remember what it was exactly, but it seemed Asian inspired - based on either oyster or hoisin sauce.  Still very good.  We got this again the second time around.  I just made sure to go very light on the sauce.

Our entrees soon came.  This is the skirt steak over yucca fries with a chimichurri sauce.  It was as you'd expect.  But that doesn't mean that the dish wasn't amazing.  The skirt steak was so perfectly cooked.  The yucca fries as well were amazingly prepared.  It was deep fried and it didn't have the stringiness that I find in my yucca at other places.  The chimichurri sauce was also well made.

I unfortunately didn't get a good shot of my tamarind glazed pork chops in my haste to dig in.  This was wonderful.  The sweet tamarind went so well with the pork chop which was cooked PERFECTLY medium.  Yes, medium.  You bastards that are eating it well done are doing it WRONG!  (It's okay, I forgive you.  For now.)  It was served with a nice ginger apple sauce.  Yes, this was a combination I've never had before.  Tamarind, ginger, pork and apples.  But... it works.  It really does.  I think this was my favorite entree of the night.

Other dishes we had were the mushroom risotto.  Nothing special about it, but it was perfectly creamy and had the perfect bite to it.  Also, we had the seared duck breast (seen on the top of the page).  Served a perfect pink and had a variety of flavors popping all over.  I thought its direction got a bit lost.  While it was cooked perfectly, the flavor profiles were all over.  Would I still recommend it?  Yeah, if you are feeling like duck breast.

Then we had the foie gras burger on a separate occasion.  Yup.  I'm a sucker for foie gras burgers.  When I heard about this burger, I knew I had to come back for it.  Only $19 for this burger and well freakin' worth it.  Foie gras, in my opinion, was a bit skimpy compared to what I got at Burger Bar in Las Vegas (also a larger price tag there,) but it was still well worth it.  Burger patty was slightly overcooked.  My buddies ordered medium rare, they got medium.  I ordered it medium and I got a medium-well patty.  Oh well, it was still delicious.

The desserts here are just as visually appealing as the entrees are.  The red velvet cake came looking like almost a blood bath on the plate.  It was good.  Nice chocolate flavors, but slightly dry in my opinion.

The PB&B, peanut butter and bacon ice cream was wonderful.  It comes with a peanut butter ice cream and a bruleed (French for burnt) banana that was perfectly carmalized.  And yes, the topping had to be... bacon!  Delicious.

And ice cream.  Nothign more to say about this.  It was homemade ice cream.  Good, rich, creamy.  What more can you ask of from ice cream?

This ran about $50 a person after tax, tip and drinks.  Give this place a try.  Good beers, food and fun here.

Chapter One:  The Modern Local
227 N Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 352-2225