Behold the beginning of our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2016 listicle! Every day through the publication of our Best Of 2016 issue (and sometimes, twice a day), we'll be bringing you our favorite dishes across Orange County, leading up to the best in the land. Enjoy!
Every time I walk into Lemonade at Fashion Island, I promise myself I'll order something different. After all, they add new items to their menu each season, making it easy to avoid previous orders. Despite this promise, I lie to myself during each visit, thanks to the mushroom flatbread and kale and kumquat salad.
"Flat" doesn't necessarily fit the description of this flatbread. Covered in grated parmesan and melted mozzarella, it resembles a sunny side up egg, with a bubble in the middle. As soon as you bite into that bubble, sweet, caramelized onions; sautéed mushrooms; soft, baked garlic; and more mozzarella spill out. Truffle aioli coats the whole pizza for even more flavor.
As delicious as the pizza is, it's never enough, and I've found that the kale and kumquat salad is the perfect balance between the sweetness of the flatbread and one of Lemonade's famous lemonades. The sourness of the kumquats mixed with the bitter kale provides just the right tang. It's tossed with onions and button mushrooms, and dressed in a kumquat vinaigrette that will make your jaw flinch in puckish anticipation.
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Take a bite of the sweet flatbread, a fork-full of that sharp salad, then a big gulp of sugary lemonade to intensify the tastes in each dish. Repeat. And don't worry about missing out on these two items when Lemonade rolls out new menus: they're typically available year-round.
Lemonade, 987 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, (949) 717-7525. Also available at 2967 Michelson Drive, Irvine, (949) 396-1560 and 21016 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, (714) 604-1072; lemonadela.com.
94. Mexican-Style Gelatins from Santa Ana's Gelatina Goddess
95. Hot Pastrami Caesar Salad at Bruxie
96. Jalapeño Pupusas at Las Cazuelas
97. Meatball Sliders at Fresh Brothers
98. Buffalo Cauliflower at Mead's Green Door Cafe
99. Raindrop Cake at Sunmerry Bakery
100. Doughrito at Surfin' Donuts