Review of Lark Creek Newport Beach
Lark Creek does Farm to Table Right
It was back in July of 2013 when yet another restaurant group was slated to open a restaurant in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island. I yawned and decided to see if Lark Creek would survive the winter. After trying Lark Creek for the first time last week, I now regret not dining at this restaurant sooner.
Lark Creek does many things right that helps make the dinner’s experience wonderful. The food is based on a farm to table approach, with seasonal ingredients driving the menu. Chef /Partner John Ledbetter brings years of experience and innovative preparations to transform these ingredients to remarkable dishes. Proof is in the pudding, lets chat about their food.
Lark Creek Appetizers
Rock Fish Ceviche
Chef Ledbetter take on this classic Peruvian dish was impressive. The citrus cured rockfish is mixed with a creamy yellow aji sauce. The sauce is made with the Peruvian Aji Amarillo pepper, which provides a fruity spiciness to the dish and a long slow sizzle. For me this dish was like a bowl of sunshine that woke up my senses and allowed the natural flavor of the rockfish to shine through.
The Rockfish Ceviche was served with crispy plantain chips added the right amount of starch and sweetness to mellow out the heat of the chili to a level that even non-spicy lover could appreciate.
Dungeness Crab Cocktail
All fish is best when they are in season and Dungeness crab is at its peak right now. Lark Creek is currently serving hand selected Dungeness crab from fisheries along the West Coast, from San Francisco to Alaska. Their crab cocktail is essentially a chilled half crab, served on a bed of ice and accompanied by their housemade horseradish cocktail sauce.
Since crab was in season, the meat is dense, sweet and full of natural flavor. Lark creek is definitely getting the premium crab from their fish monger. I made a serious mess of myself attempting to fetch every last piece of meat from the shell. This is a mark that I really enjoyed the food.
There were some of the better deviled eggs that I have recently tasted and I consider myself to be a deviled egg snob. The deviled eggs are constructed in the classic format, with whipped yolks piped into the egg white shell.
The eggs were topped with Dungeness crab meat, chipotle aioli and micro greens. The eggs had multiple flavor layers from sweet, savory and spicy and a very subtle hint of vinegar somewhere in the dish. I would order these again. If you don’t like spicy, don’t be afraid of the chipotle, it just adds flavor. Even my spicy-phobic wife loved them.
Lark Creek Main Courses
Cider-Brined Pork Chop
Lark Creek’s cider-brined pork chop ranks on my top five all-time favorite pork chops, in good company with Michael Mina and The Playground. Lark Creek’s version is cider-brined, which helps break down the connective tissue and infuses a bright aromatic flavor into the meat.
This is a good sized pork chop at 12 ounces and is served atop sweet potatoes, braised cabbage and fried sage. One of the best elements of this pork chop is the stone-fruit bourbon sherry glaze poured over top. It adds a savory-sweet flavor layer that cuts through the dish without being sticky sweet.
Filet with Dungeness Crab salad
The filet, like the pork chop, is cooked over a wood burning grill which infuses a smoky flavor layer, deep into the meat. The filet was served atop a very creamy and rich potato gratin and a Dungeness crab salad on top. The dish is garnished with a very pretty and delicious persillade sauce. The steak was cooked to a text-book medium –rare and was extremely juicy on each bite. The crab salad on top added a wonderful sweet creaminess to each bite of steak.
Croissant Bread Pudding
This was an impressive dessert. The bread pudding is made with fresh croissants, melted chocolate chunks, butter, cream and love. The bread pudding was topped with a serving of creamy chocolate gelato. This is a sultry dish that smacks me around, called me Sally and I still keep you coming back for more. Despite the fact that I was beyond full, I had to finish the dessert.
My Final Thoughts
I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality at Lark Creek. I am always very dubious when a restaurant group opens up a new restaurant in Orange County, as quality will often drop after six months of opening. Since Lark Creek opened in July of 2013, the restaurant continues to improve and evolve its menu. Chef Ledbetter really impressed me with the flavor layering in his dishes and unique preparations.
If you have not yet visited Lark Creek, I would recommend a visit. The food is truly delicious, the service is highly trained and the environment is welcoming. I would visit again.
957 Newport Center Drive at Fashion Island