Orange County RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

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Orange County RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

  • 15 October, 2019
  • By Admin: Debbie West
  • Comments: 00

We hear you—literally. When a cool, new restaurant opens, the buzz is deafening. Then things quiet a bit until the next spot roars onto O.C.’s dining landscape. The past year was particularly noisy with openings, and these are the most notable of a deliciously varied bunch. But brand-spanking-new is just the beginning—we’ve jazzed up the list with well-seasoned influencers that cast long shadows we can’t ignore. Make your reservations, and bon appétit.


RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR 

Guinea fowl with chanterelles and smoked fish roe. Photograph by Anne Watson

JOURNEYMAN’S FOOD & DRINK
Executive Chef Zachary Geerson’s intricate cuisine isn’t copycat food, but it is inspired by the progressive likes of Michelin-level kitchens such as Chicago’s Alinea, Copenhagen’s Noma, and Vespertine in Los Angeles.

Joining Geerson’s journey means diving into a $75 prix fixe dinner with a choice of dishes in each of four courses. The menu is just a list of key ingredients—you’ll need your knowledgeable server for a true description of all the dishes on offer.

You might start with a Lilliputian “micro-burger” of smoked salmon belly, watercress, gooseberry ketchup, and pickled shallot on a sesame seed brioche meringue bun. Every dish is plated so creatively and so precisely that it flirts with obsession.

Most important, every bite delivers. A tent of taupe “crackers” of mushroom-infused meringue hides hickory-smoked salmon roe, countered with preserved lemon jam that’s sharp, funky, and faintly fruity.

Because the menu reflects Geerson’s 16 micro-seasons, it’s always updating. Last May’s relatively straightforward Spaghetti, Herbs, Spring Vegetables starred a swirl of house-made micro-fettuccine flattered by rainbow carrots, summer squash, and just-sprouted herbs. Savor midsummer’s raspberry and rhubarb crumble graced with brie ice cream, and you’ll relive it for months.

Cocktails and mocktails are madly inventive yet well executed. A bar menu of noshy dishes makes Journeyman’s more accessible but no less enchanting. Despite the freeway-adjacent site at Hotel Fullerton, the sleek 52-seat room is an unexpected haven of calm and delight.

You really should exit your typical circuit for a visit. Dine here with an open mind and heart, and the payoff is a memorable, immersive experience at an attractive price.

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