Drunk After Work: O BAR at Orange Hill
Orange Hill website
The Place: The O BAR at Orange Hill, 6410 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 997-2910; www.theorangehillrestaurant.com.
The Hours: Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.
The Deal: Select appetizers and drinks, all priced between $5 and $7.
The Scene: We read about the bar remodel a while back, but haven't had the opportunity to meander up there until now.
Besides the two anxious gents clearly awaiting an interview, The room seated two types of guests: mature groups awaiting a reservation, and couples seeking clandestine seclusion. It is a destination setting, so out-of-the-way that you are left to valet for "free," with a suggested gratuity of $3.50. Its swanky furnishings and mod orange vibe lure one in, but everyone knows it's all about the view. Cozy seating and worn-leather wingback chairs get visitors comfy. The 10 coveted seats at the marble countertop offer purse hooks and leather stools that swivel, again, for that sunset.
The Sauce: In the five-buck range, O BAR will provide well drinks--on the rocks, straight up, or neat. There are also some red and white choices from Canyon Road winery. The next level up offers girly standards such as lemon drops, appletinis and a white sangria. Mix in a caipirinha or the signature "O" crush (Stoli orange, cointreau, plus fresh O.J.), and everyone is sitting pretty. The upper echelon serves a reddish theme, starting with a wildberry mojito. A martini duo of burning mandarin and hibiscus follow suit; finally, there's a ruby-red filled with tequila, vodka, agave and fruity goodness.
The Food: With the exception of the "O" rings and calamari, the bar menu is less fried and more refined. We noticed the absence of meat in the base selections: hummus and olives begin to steer you into a charcuterie, if not for the soup du jour. Heartier protein in the form of sliders come out to play when the amount reaches six. Unfortunately, the sweet bun is no match for Burnt Truck's offerings. Vegetarians can find solace in a wedge salad, four-cheese flatbread and bruschetta. Lastly, lamb chops, skewers and prime rib tacos welcome a generous pocketbook. Meat on a stick with a little braised veg is good eats, but our knees grew weak from the house offering: hot potato crisps drizzled with truffle oil and sea salt. Excuse us while we dab drool with the corner of our cocktail napkin. . . .
The Verdict: Location, location, location automatically jump this happy hour to above-average status. Minimal drinking options (one winery--really?) and lackluster tastes prevent it from busting out of the slanted ceiling. But, oh, those chips! They saved the day.
The Grade: B
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.