“Have you been to Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge recently?” one of OC’s greatest chefs recently asked me at Break of Dawn’s 10-year anniversary party. “Yeah,” I said, hesitatingly, wanting to see where the conversation was leading. “Took my mom and sisters there before the Pepe Aguilar concert at the Segerstrom.”
“I took my mom, too!” he replied. “Man, Chef Ross [Pangilinan] is seriously underrated!”
Relieved he felt the same I did, we proceeded to rave about Cafe Rouge’s food: perfect plating, subtle-but-strong flavors, beautiful service. “But there’s one area that I think they’re lacking in,” I confessed. “Bar program still isn’t up to par.”
“Oh, you gotta give them a break on that.”
“No! They deserve awesome cocktails. They were terrible last year—too simple. But they’re starting to pick it up.” And I mentioned The Perfect Champagne.
It was actually the simplest entry in their cocktails list, but did exactly as advertised. The bubbly was a tart Schramsberg Sparkling rosé, balanced with passion fruit liqueur. “It was great for the hot day that we went,” I told One of OC’s Greatest Chefs. “Refreshing, delicious, and I was able to let my mom and sisters taste it so they could realize life is more than margaritas and Merlot.” And we laughed, and returned to Break of Dawn’s glory.
Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, 615 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 429-7640.