Alan Greeley's Golden Truffle has been around for more than 30 years, and there is a reason why this neighborhood bistro has had such longevity.
The food is good! The restaurant has added a full bar. The menu offers an ever-changing variety, according to the chef's whims and imagination, while the staff is warm and attentive.
Greeley has been one of Orange County's favorite caterers for an even longer time. He knows food.
The menu changes daily and the wine list monthly, so you can always find something new to eat and drink. The only problem is that your new favorite dish may not appear on your next visit.
Greeley seems to take his inspiration from a variety of cuisines. On the night we dined, we ate French, Japanese, German and American selections.
We were seated in the wine room, where the walls are lined, floor-to-ceiling, with wine racks as well as wine-centric posters, maps and cookbooks. (A bit of advice: You might want a sweater since the room is a bit chilly.) While we were perusing the menu, our waiter brought us a little amuse bouche, a delicious smoky, salty fish mouse on a toasted round of baguette. Two little sticks of pickled celery added a crunchy finish.
My husband began with a king salmon sushi roll with cucumber and avocado. It was bright and fresh, with lushness from the avocado and crispness from the cucumber, and was a generous size.
My ahi and arugula salad was huge! There was enough to feed three people or more as an appetizer. The ruby red slices of raw tuna were gracefully arranged around a mound of peppery arugula that had been tossed in brisk vinaigrette with a hint of spice. The tuna was very fresh but a little bland by itself, but on the side was a spicy soy-based dipping sauce with hints of lemon and sweetness. Served with it was a crunchy bean sprout salad in light vinegar dressing with bits of hot red peppers.
One entrée that is often on the menu is the house-made mixed sausages with homemade sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. It is a definite winner. There were four different sausages from four different countries and a piece of braised pork belly on the top. We debated which one was the best.
The mildest was the German bratwurst, which was very good. Next we agreed that the North African mergez, a spicy lamb sausage, was a contender for best in show. French boudin was peppery and juicy, while the frankfurter was as good as any Nathan's ever made in the good old days on Coney Island.
It was the sauerkraut, however, that blew us away. It was nothing like the stuff you get in the jar or on a wiener. This is the kind you find in an Alsatian restaurant in Paris. The balance of salty and sour is perfectly nuanced. To alleviate the negative effects of those sausages on the body, sauerkraut is loaded with vitamins C, B and K, dietary fiber, foliate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
The sausages rested on a mound of excellent creamy mashed potatoes. Those potatoes also provided a resting place for a very tender hunk of boneless short rib, and there was a sauce of flavorful meaty juices on the bottom of the plate. It was one of the best meals in recent memory.
In the same category of "best ever" was the dessert: a delectable piquant lemon tart with a buttery short pastry crust, topped with seasonal berries and a bottom layer of dense whipped cream or whipped cream mixed with cream cheese, making a luscious finish to a great meal.
TERRY MARKOWITZ was in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. She can be reached for comments or questions at email@example.com.
The Golden Truffle
Where: 1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa
When: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Appetizers: $4 to $18
Sandwiches and pasta: $10 to $20
Entrées: $18 to $32
Desserts: $6 to $10
Bottles: $28 to $110
Half-bottles: $22 to $68
By the glass: $7 to $13.70
Corkage fee: $15 (waived Thursday night)
Information: (949) 645-9858 or http://www.goldentruffle.com