Tri Tip, Grilled Octopus, Halibut & #CheeseLover Cheeses & Creative Cocktails
I have long known of the Five Crowns restaurant in Corona del Mar as a place for fine dining, but had never actually been to it until I went to sample its new spring menu.
And while I could barely get past the cheese table, I was at least as impressed with the restaurant itself as I was by the food. Walk past the main dining rooms and there’s a side atrium and behind that a lawn with small fire pits that moved my pre-conceived mentality from old-style steakhouse to modern motif. This area is like being in someone’s back yard at a very nice Corona Del Mar house for a classy BBQ.
It is this scene that pairs perfectly with Chef Steve King’s three featured dishes and appetizers for springtime in Southern California. The main courses consist of grilled octopus, baked halibut and the king of the bunch at Five Crowns, a tri tip, as main entrees.
If you’re a meat lover, the tri tip is the dish you’ll want to get here; with the first bite the meat explodes with flavor in your mouth and I was practically tackling the waitress when she brought out more samples to get another taste.
The grilled octopus is a great menu addition, considering it’s something you can’t get anywhere on a regular basis. It brought to mind the first time I had octopus, at a small harbor-side taverna in a small harbor in Santorini, Greece. It was fresh off the boat and right onto the grill. Awesome. This seemed much the same.
The halibut was light and covered in a simple but tasty cream sauce that let the fish flavor stand out rather than burying it.
But it was the speciality cheeses, set out on a table with red and white wines, that dominated my attention. I love cheese and the display was set out by a cheese sommelier – or fromager, if you prefer – featuring a hard cheese from France and soft cheeses from California, along with a couple of meats. Normally I’m more of a hard cheese lover but here it was the soft cheeses that deliciously delighted my palate.
If you’re looking for me to describe it, just order the platter and let your taste buds delight in these creamy pleasures.
And while I enjoyed wine with the cheeses, I really enjoyed the cocktails served at Five Crowns. There’s two new drinks, the gin-based Spiritual Gangster (organic gin, amaro, chamomic, honey mint and cucumber) and the Leche Libre (premium tequila, lemon, lavender, iris liquor and rose simple) that takes the bartender three days to prepare before serving.
But I preferred having the cocktails in the adjacent Side Door bar, a dark-but-not-too-dark cool lounge with hip, soft music coming from hidden speakers and a fireplace in the back.
It’s an awesome setting with bartender Randy Thais’ creative cocktails, especially the Ugly Gentlemen, a bourbon cocktail in which the bartender blasts a piece of wood with a blow torch, then puts the glass on it to create a fresh, oaky taste that also gives the bar area a unique and satisfying aroma.
Unique and satisfying. That pretty much summarizes the dining, drinks and experience at Five Crowns.
Five Crows Restaurant Fast Facts
Address: 3801 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA
Phone: (949) 760-0331
Parking: Valet Available
Hours: Fridays & Saturdays, 5-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays 5-9 p.m.