Sometimes it takes seemingly passé flavors to remind us that "classic" combinations are classic for a reason--like with the simple, albeit perfectly executed Confit & Carmelized Pork Belly at Marché Moderne in South Coast Plaza, which comes off like the fanciest ham dinner this side of a Newport country club.
Served on a layer of broiled pineapple strips, the glossy, mahogany hunk of belly is firm enough to stand up to a fork, though it shreds easily under the ornate serrated knife they give you to slice it up. The sprouts are pulled apart; each individual leaf touched with enough char and salt to provide an addictive, crispy complement to the fatty meat. A pineapple compote tops the slab and a drizzle of Blis maple syrup around the plate creates a sugary sauce to swoop each bite through.
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We've always been partial to Marché for their three-course $25 lunch menuwhich remains one of the best deals in town, but our latest, porky discovery is yet another reminder to push past the prix-fixe from time to time.