Eats Kitchen and Bar at Hotel Irvine
Skewed & Reviewed
by Genevieve Mc Bride
Our first look at Eats Kitchen + Bar was for a quick breakfast before we had to head out to a convention. Taking up an ample share of the footprint of Hotel Irvine, Eats provides a bright, airy dining area just beyond the bar that welcomes you. We didn't have time to order from the tempting breakfast menu, but the array of breads, pastries and cereal in their Everyday Buffet made for a convenient option.
After a long day of dealing with crowds, nothing beats returning to a clean and relaxing hotel room, except knowing there's a restaurant just an elevator ride away. After a day of trekking around the Anaheim Convention Center, we were thankful that it was only a few steps away from the elevator bay. The host staff was just as friendly in the evening as they were earlier that day. Our seats looked out to the patio where a fire pit made al fresco dining look perfect, but I was happy to stay indoors. (Unfortunately, acclimating to Arizona weather means anything below 75 degrees is too cold.)
We got to meet Chef Jason, who was fun and engaging. After finding out I was a kababayan (a fellow Filipino) he encouraged me to try the Filipino egg, his take on the Scotch egg. If you've never had the genius that is a Scotch egg, it's a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, rolled in bread crumbs and fried. A Filipino egg is exactly that, but instead of country-style sausage, Chef Jason uses home-made Filipino longanisa and it's simply delicious.
Chef Jason's heritage also comes through with his deconstructed siopao, in the form of Pork Belly Buns. Siopao is a steamed bun stuffed with a variety of fillings like pork, chicken. Chef Jason's version incorporates steamed buns uniquely. When I showed my brother a picture, he said they look like siopao tacos because the steamed buns, doesn't enclose the meat, instead it's folded around the grilled pork belly When assembled with the kimchi and fried jalapeno the buns are served with, you have a savory Asian "taco" with a crunchy kick.
If I've learned anything in my nearly 10 year marriage is that anytime the husband sees fries or macaroni and cheese on the menu, he has to try it. Especially when the fries are tossed with fried garlic and fresh herbs and the mac & cheese has house-smoked pork belly. He wasn't disappointed. He has the same compulsion for fried chicken, so it was no surprise he chose the Confit Fried Chicken for dinner. I shared my Steak Frites with him and as flavorful as the roasted garlic demi glaze was on my tender steak, I would've gladly traded my plate for his. Chef Jason said he drew inspiration for his fried chicken from Max's, a popular Filipino restaurant that "fried chicken built" and while I've never had Max's fried chicken, if it tastes as good as Chef Jason's then I need to visit a Max's Restaurant soon. Serving it atop ginger risotto was inspired.
Of course, no dinner is complete without dessert and you really can't go wrong with any of Eat's choices. The husband loved the apple tacos, apple jam with streusel and salted caramel stuffed in phyllo taco shells. I loved the vegan banana bread topped with caramelized bananas and streusel crumble. It was moist, dense and rich with banana flavor and not overly sweet. But what we both couldn't resist was the chocolate pot de crème. Every cold spoonful of creamy chocolate with a hint of hazelnut and orange crème was heavenly. Eats also offers hot chocolate milk and mini cookies which would be the perfect dessert outside on their patio, around the fire pit on a cool Southern California evening.
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