After months of June gloom, it was a pleasure to wake up on a Sunday morning with the sun shining and a cool breeze in the air. The day was perfect for brunch at one of our favorite spots, although it is more accurately described as "blunch," since most of the menu items are more like lunch or dinner food.
Bayside Restaurant is located just across the street from an inlet of the bay in Newport Beach. This beautiful eatery serves a three-course, prix fixe Sunday brunch for $29.95, with all the mimosas or champagne you care to drink. And the quality of the food is excellent.
The large open space is divided into several dining areas separated by a bar with comfortable booths in the center. The high ceiling has a sculpture-like arrangement of long wooden oars. There is a large covered, glassed-in patio with bay views on two sides of the building.
Hardwood floors, large windows, white linens, warm colors and soft lighting make this a lovely place to dine. On Sundays, it also has live music, a piano and a bass player performing classic jazz. The noise level is a bit buzzy, but you can still carry on a conversation.
Even on a busy day, the wait staff was attentive and friendly. Our champagne glasses were kept filled as we munched on warm rolls and banana bread while making our selections. The three courses include soup or salad, a choice from 11 entrées and two desserts.
My husband started with the puree of broccoli soup. It was very good. The soup was a thick puree enriched with cream and finely chopped chives. On top was a splash of cream and croutons. The flavor of broccoli was subtle.
I had the chopped heart of romaine salad with Parmesan dressing topped with focaccia croutons and shaved Parmesan. A Caesar manqué. It was a bit ordinary.
Of the two breakfast-like entrees, I chose the frittata with spinach, shiitake mushrooms, Boschetto truffle cheese and bacon. I was expecting all the elements to be incorporated into the eggs, but the spinach formed a bed on the bottom of the frittata and the slices of bacon and the mushrooms rested on top.
When I first cut into it, I thought it looked like it would be dry, but to my surprise and delight, it was quite delicious. It had a wonderful soft texture and lots of flavor from the truffle cheese. (Boschetto cheese is made from cow and sheep's milk, combined with white truffles and aged for only a few months.)
Our other entree was an old favorite, the sautéed tiger prawns served with Bayside's "famous" green risotto with sugar snap peas. Plump, juicy, tail-on prawns had been sautéed with paprika and garlic and just a hint of heat. They lounged on the perfectly cooked risotto, with each grain distinct. There was a bit of crunch from the sweet sugar snaps and just the right amount of cheese in the rice. The dish imparted flavor but wasn't overly rich.
For dessert, you have a choice of macerated mixed berries with house-made vanilla ice cream or chocolate soufflé cake with hazelnut ice cream. We had one of each. In this season of abundant fresh fruit, I would have preferred plain berries. The maceration left them soft, almost as if they had been defrosted.
A great fallen soufflé cake rests on the quality of the chocolate, and this was very dark and very good without being overly sweet. Chocolate sauce decorated the plate, and the hazelnut ice cream, which didn't really have much hazelnut flavor, was still rich and creamy. A nut tuille rested beneath the cake and the ice cream.
We are not big fans of big brunch buffets, since we always eat too much too fast, but the leisurely, tasty meal, the endless champagne and the lovely environment make Bayside a most delightful place to "blunch."
TERRY MARKOWITZ was in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. She can be reached for comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where: 900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach
When: Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (check website for lunch and dinner times)
Prices: Three-course prix fixe for $29.95, with entree specials for $35.95
Bottles: $36 to $1,490
By the glass: $8.50 to $18.25
Corkage fee: $15
Information: (949) 721-1222 or http://www.baysiderestaurant.com