EATS Kitchen & Bar–the revamped restaurant at the Hotel Irvine that recently hired Jason Montelibano from Chapter One: the modern local–is participating in Irvine Restaurant Week. It's offering a 3-course prix fixe dinner from a selected subset of their regular menu for $25 per person. Sounds like an excellent deal, right? Well, not exactly.
If you went there, like I did, then asked for the restaurant week deal, then afterward proceeded to look at the prices you would've paid had you ordered each course a la carte, you'd realize that the person who set up the prix fixe was bad at math or hoping you were. It turns out that even if I'd chosen the most expensive options, the restaurant week deal was still a dollar more expensive than ordering the same meal from the regular menu. It would've been worse if I'd taken the burger as the main course: I would've paid an extra $4.50.
When I pointed it out to the waiter, he got the manager, who agreed it didn't make much sense. He said we'd be charged as though we ordered everything a la carte.
The one redeeming factor of the debacle was the Filipino Egg, one of the first course choices and evidence that despite the mac-n-cheese and short-rib gastropub tropes that Montelibano follows in his day-to-day cooking, he is, at his core, a Filipino cook eager to show off. Montelibano encases a perfectly boiled egg in a sweet homemade longanisa sausage, deep-fries it, and serves it with a tamarind sweet-sour-spicy sauce so good and zingy I had to be reminded not to lick the plate. This dish will be the reason I'll go back to EATS, not any bogus restaurant week deals Irvine might offer.