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
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.