When Irvine Spectrum began updating their dining selections, we were pleased with the results. Better wine options, spacious patios and a greater range of quality cuisine revitalized the plaza. However, one thing that didn't work so well was brunch. Besides the endless dim sum at Capital Seafood, we weren't impressed with newer tenants.
Fashion Island then began an overhaul of their restaurants. There's still another four on the way (Fig & Olive, Red O, CUCINA Enoteca and Blue C. Sushi), but Lemonade and Lark Creek are now open close to the movie theater. We rolled out of bed one Sunday, hoping for the best as we headed for brunch at Lark Creek.
Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. When we think about people who don't wake up early (or who simply cannot meet on Sunday), having these hours helps. The weather is balmy most of the time, so patio seating is best--especially for people watching. Lunch options are also available, giving diners opportunities to try items like the popular watermelon "carpaccio" Edwin dishes about in his review.
The table ended up splitting a few dishes, because one alone really was too much of a good thing here. Our meal included a pork tamale ($15) supported by a foundation of masa cake. We leave comprehensive Mexican food critiques to El Jefe, but for the sake of brunch, it was a welcome departure from other pig-centric entrees. A perfectly poached egg oozed sunny sauce when we broke into the yolk. They were easy on the salsa verde and queso fresco, giving us some control over the flavors, but still allowing that meatiness to shine.
Why did we order a Benedict ($14.50)? At the urging of one manager (a transplant from another prestigious restaurant group a few miles away). He insisted we would be impressed by this version, and not simply because of the local bread used. Every component in our brunch staple tasted of high quality. They didn't try to infuse a classic dish with some twist, because it wasn't necessary. We were starting to experience egg overload, though.
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To balance out our meal, we dipped into their starters for a white shrimp ceviche ($14). It was served plated as a deconstructed dish, as opposed to chopped finely in a shallow bowl. A pleasant complement to our previous entrees, this was habanero spicy, avocado creamy and plantain chip crunchy all at the same time. Toy box tomatoes burst in our mouth, flavoring the shrimp with familiar acidity.
Lark Creek easily surpassed its peers for brunch. We're glad there's another spot so accessible to shopping, because how else will we burn off those calories?