Are you ready for something different? If you’re on the fence, don’t be. There’s a whole roundup of reputable names breaking out their autumn specials. All you need to do is decide which one to go with. Pasta, coffee, seafood, chicken? Check, check, check and check.
Slapfish Celebrates National Seafood Month
October means many things to many people, but to Slapfish it’s a time for specials! There’s a Nashville Style Hot Fish Sandwich with Chesapeake Blue Catfish, for starters. Cooling, crunchy slaw and pickles balance it out. We’re liking the sound of their Miso-Glazed Barramundi Bowl. Mild and flaky, this swimmer is served alongside veggie rice. However, something tells us you’ll be wanting the classic Lobster Boil, with creamy New England chowder, skin-on fries, and slaw made in-house. And of course, it’s flown in fresh from Maine. Wouldn’t expect anything less from the Slapfish crew. Happy dining! www.slapfishrestaurant.com.
Portola Coffee Roasters Got Us Feeling Moody – Costa Mesa only
Not to be confused with the movie Inside Out, the team at Portola crafted a colorful lineup varied in texture and taste, utilizing both sustainable and seasonal components. Named their Synesthesia menu, it is (per co-founder Christa Duggan), ” . . ..a sensation we experience when two or more of our senses get crossed.” For some reason, that reminds us of a classmate that would close his eyes when he ate, believing he’d taste the food better by shutting off one of his senses. Anyway, where were we? We are on board with their gold hue known as Gaspar: Espresso, tumeric, honey and milk served warm. For a cooler temp beverage, check out the pink Cold Brew: Strawberry syrup, beetroot powder, rose syrup, heavy cream and Maldon sea salt. We can picture the ‘grams now. This menu is only available at their Theorem bar, located inside The OC Mix, through November 29. 3313 Hyland Ave., (714) 656-7996; www.portolacoffee.com
Headed to Taste of Laguna Tonight?
Featuring over 30 restaurants, this locals event also includes cover bands spanning multiple decades and a silent auction that’s well underway. Savor the rest of your weekend, and spend the evening at The Festival of Arts indulging on small bites. Seems like an ideal way to wait for traffic to die down on Laguna Canyon. Here’s the link, if you are interested. www.tasteoflagunabeach.com
When Did Casa Barilla Get All Healthy? – Costa Mesa
Beyond Meat, plant-based pastas and ikura (salmon roe) are three things you probably wouldn’t expect to hear from a traditional pasta company like Barilla. Well, times are a-changing. Heck, you can even request the above dish with squid ink pasta! It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world, we tell ya. This fast casual Italian concept is keeping up with what eaters want, though. And for this, we thank you for flexing those non-traditional options at South Coast Plaza. 3333 Bristol St., (657) 205-1025; www.casabarilla.com
Bruxie Is Bringing the Heat!
The thing about spicy/hot food that doesn’t appeal to us is how most heat ruins our taste buds from the first bite, leaving us tasting nothing else the rest of our meal. Bruxie wants to change that experience, incorporating different heat levels that don’t blow out your buds early on. For this month only, they’ve introduced two distinct chicken sandwiches. Lil Heat contains Fresno chiles, while Notorious H.O.T. utilizes hot habaneros. Both have a chile spice blend used on their chickens prior to frying. In addition, Calabrian chiles are used in a Bomba sauce slathered on both. A toasty bun and cooling slaw are where the similarities end. Compare the two and see how much heat your body can contend with. www.bruxie.com
We See You: Scarlet Kitchen & Lounge – Ladera Ranch
Your social media has not gone unnoticed. We are anxiously waiting to see how you’re going to affect the dining scene in South Orange County– especially in an area that deserves more love. It’s cool that you’re keeping it in the family, having two busy chefs in the kitchen. Save us some bacon crack when you open. Please and thank you. 30865 Gateway Pl.; www.scarletkl.com
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.