I usually don't think of visiting local hotels since there's no need for me to seek lodging, but what about dining at the hotel restaurants? I visited three Irvine hotel restaurants; the Irvine Marriott Hotel's Floe Lounge, the Double Tree by Hilton's 90 Pacifica, and the Hilton's Aura Bar & Grill; and was delighted at each dining location's warm and inviting to calm and cool atmospheres; excellent service; as well as the divine culinary creations which will be featured on prix fixe $40 and under menus during Irvine Restaurant Week from January 10-16th (yes, it starts at the end of the week)!
Floe Lounge at the Irvine Marriott Hotel
The Irvine Marriott Hotel recently remodeled and soft opened with a new concept dining experience. Known as the 'Great Room' to easily introduce guests to the Floe Lounge but keep them connected to the hotel, dining guests can dine casually, formally, or lounge with a drink and small bites all in the same area. The welcoming ambiance and decor mixes an upscale, modern lounge with a vibrant beach resort. What I loved about Floe was not only the posh, yet laid-back coastal vibe, but the innovative ways the food was presented (the lunch menu's Abuela soup is poured onto roasted corn and poblano right in front of you) as well as the interesting flavors used, lent to a very delightful experience! Thank you Chef Adrian, Lorenzo (Director of Restaurant Operations) and the staff that made my dining experience unique and enjoyable!
Lunch dishes shown above (left to right):
Abuela (Grandma) Tere's Roasted Corn & Poblano Soup
Fiscalini Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Bread Pudding Churros
Guests choose 1 Starter Soup, 1 Entree, and enjoy the Bread Pudding Churros for dessert (one of my favorite dessert dishes that I have EVER tasted; perfect amount of sweetness, doughy texture, and crunch!)
Dinner dishes shown above (left to right):
Wildflower Honey Glazed Salmon
Harris Ranch Skirt Steak
All Dishes previously listed shown with the Bibb Lettuce & Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad (with sun dried cherries, spiced pecans, feta cheese)
The flavors and exciting twists on traditional dishes will be a thrill for your taste palate to encounter. In particular, the house chimichurri that topped the Harris Ranch Skirt Steak blended together an amazing array of spicy, salty, sweet, and citrus flavors.
Guests choose 1 Starter Soup or Salad, 1 Entree, and enjoy a 'beachy' take on S'mores for dessert.
Floe Lounge at the Irvine Marriott Hotel18000 Von Karman Ave, Irvine, California 92612-1004 Phone: 1-949-553-0100
Parking: Self Parking Lot (by ticket dispenser) or Valet with 3-hour Free Parking Validation from Floe Lounge
Did you know that Floe Lounge also hosts a "Relaxed Hour" where all of the signature drinks and quick bites are 1/2 off, Monday-Friday from 5-6pm (and usually with live music too)!
90 Pacifica at the DoubleTree by Hilton Irvine Spectrum
Executive Chef Shannon Olvera started at 90 Pacifica at the DoubleTree by Hilton Irvine Spectrum this past Fall 2013, and has been taking the kitchen to the menu by storm! Olvera's extensive background (you may also have recognized her from season 17 of the Food Network show, 'Chopped') and infusion of Asian and Hawaiian influences sure makes for fun and tasty dishes. She is revolutionizing the standard hotel menu, and you won't want to miss out on her Irvine Restaurant Week Lunch and Dinner offerings at 90 Pacifica! You can go shopping at the Irvine Spectrum, then drop into 90 Pacifica for a bite!
Lunch & Dinner dishes shown above (left to right):
Vine Ripened Tomato & Herb Buratta Salad
Double 'Apple' Tree Salad
Wok Fired Stir Fry
Grilled Flat Iron Steak
Pan Seared Salmon
Lemon Creme Brulee
Guests choose 1 Starter Soup or Salad, 1 Entree, and enjoy the Lemon Creme Brulee for dessert.
The most stand out dishes for me was the Vine Ripened Tomato & Herb Buratta Salad and Wok Fired Stir Fry. I had never tasted buratta and I was hooked on the first bite of this mozzarella and cream confection. The stir fry was by far the best stir fry I had ever experienced, I actually wanted to eat everything down to the onions and bell peppers (I usually leave the veggies out of consumption); and it was served over the perfect amount of rice.
90 Pacifica Restaurant & Wine Bar90 Pacifica, Irvine, California, 92618
Parking: Complimentary Day Parking (regular lot)
Hours: Monday- Sunday 6am-10pm
Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine Orange County Airport
This gem of a restaurant, Aura Bar & Grill is located in the Hilton Irvine Orange County Airport; across the street from our beloved John Wayne Airport. Aura also offers an open and communal dining environment for the perfect dining experience for a date night, family or friend dinner, or to wind down and hang out all in the same restaurant. Some nights, it gets quite busy, so make a reservation to ensure a table! Make an event out of Irvine Restaurant Week and come to Aura for an unforgettable dinner of sophisticated plates and intriguing flavors created by Executive Chef Paul Hernandez.
Dinner dishes shown above (left to right):
Seared Sea Scallops
Dungeness Crab Cake
Bone-in Pork Chop
Pan Seared Sea Bass
Mango Raspberry Napoleon
Triple Chocolate Mousse
White Chocolate Lemon Bombe
Guests choose 1 Appetizer, 1 Soup, 1 Entree, and 1 Dessert, paired with 1 glass of wine from Aura's Wine List!
My favorite dishes were the scallops (oh so perfectly seared), the crab cake (which I usually am not a fan of in general, but this crab cake was made from actual dungeness crab, not imitation and perfectly balanced in crunch and moisture contrasted by the buttery consistency and slight spiciness from the avocado and sriracha sauce as well as the sharp, salty, and citrus taste of the creamy caper aioli sauce), and the Pan Seared Sea Bass (also perfectly seared, the braised leeks were easy to eat, and everything was tied together by the smoky flavor and melted texture of Gouda au gratin potatoes). Are you hungry yet? Don't forget about dessert! The Mango Raspberry Napoleon was my fave because I'm a sucker for anything raspberry, which was great with the mango and moist cake). The Triple Chocolate Mousse is layer after layer of not too rich sweetness, balanced by a bed of oreo crunch. At first glance, the White Chocolate lemon bombe can be intimidating, but it is the loveliest culmination of zest and sweet flavors wrapped in a just creamy enough custard and chocolate shell. Thank you Chef Paul and Hotel Manager Regina for instantly welcoming me from the moment I walked through the hotel doors!
Aura Bar & Grill at the Hilton Irvine Orange County Airport18800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, California, 92612 Phone: 1-949-833-9999
Hours: Monday-Sunday 6:30am-11pm
Parking: Self Parking Lot (by ticket dispenser) or Valet with 3 hour Free-Parking Validation from Aura Bar & Grill.
If you haven't gotten a chance to dine at hotel restaurants in our area, here's your chance by taking advantaging of the carefully curated and exciting Irvine Restaurant Week Menus!
Check out other participating IRW restaurants here, and leave a comment if you experience dining at Irvine hotel restaurants!
Amanda | feast.fashion.faves