I have a soft spot for “Mom & Pop” operations that stand the test of time and Newport Beach’s popular Champagnes Bistro & Deli is celebrating 23 years by responding to requests from their loyal customers with an expanded dinner menu featuring traditional bistro specialties.
Patrons still clamor for Champagne’s brick oven pizzas, “remarkable” burgers, fresh salads, and awesome deli sandwiches, but desired a sit-down experience with tableclothes and beer and wine selections at dinner. Once known solely for its delicious deli and “to go” salads and sandwiches, Champagnes Bistro & Deli now offers table service at dinner with a bistro ambiance complete with candles, affordably-priced well-edited wine list of respected names such as Veuve Clicquot, Cakebread Cellars, and Jordan to pair with the menu of gourmet offerings including starters like French Onion Soup and Tomato Basil Bisque and entrées such as Braised Short Rib Beef Bourguignon, Pasta Provencal, Pan Seared Fresh Atlantic Salmon, and Chicken Breast Paillard.
Co-owners Rand, Tina, and Terry (not pictured)
Co-owners Rand, Tina, and Terry invited a group of Orange County food writers and bloggers for a family-style tasting of the new menu items and to share their story. If you didn’t know them already, you could not help but be inspired by the Champagne’s story and their love and enthusiasm for the business of making every meal at Champagnes one you will want to return for.
Beginning with the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes (above) every dish is prepared in-house from the freshest ingredients. The crab cakes are made from sustainable wild-caught crab, served on a bed of field greens with mandarin oranges, basil aioli, and frizzled leeks ($12.95). To me, a great crab cake is one where “fillers” like red pepper, corn, onions, etc. do not detract from what should be the star of the show: chunks of sweet crab meat. I was pleased to taste an abundance of crab and the flavors of bright mandarin, basil aioli and tendrils of crispy leeks played nicely and were appealing to the eye as well.
I was even more thrilled to see a bountiful salad developed by Terry called the “Farm-acy” Superfood Salad ($10.95). After researching super foods, Terry created this salad of mixed greens, organic baby spinach, strawberries, blueberries, red grapes, apple, oranges, dried cranberries, celery, red onion, cucumber, spiced almonds with a sprinkling of blue cheese and light champagne vinaigrette. I’m energized and detoxified just talking about it!
These two dishes would be a wonderful shared lunch or dinner for two on a normal day, but then they had to bring out one of their famous brick-oven pizzas for us to taste. I’m a pizza lover through and through – heck, pizza is its own food group in my opinion and over the years I have perfected a number of heart healthy, lower calorie, fruit and veggie pizzas that fit in with a healthy diet so Don and I can enjoy them more frequently
Pepperoni, sausage and mushroom pizza had just the right amount of crust to topping ratio ($11.95/$15.95).
Another starter selection that garnered rave reviews from the taste testers in attendance was the Firecracker Shrimp – crispy shrimp tossed in a sweet and spicy firecracker sauce was perfectly balanced with a crunchy, light but creamy confetti coleslaw and wasabi sauce with rice ($10.95).
Beyond the pizza and salad offerings are a number of delicious entrees, all at affordable prices. On this evening we lucked out with the Chicken Breast “Paillard” – a pan seared chicken breast with a light lemon caper sauce, served with a salad of mixed greens, roasted veggies, tender green beans, cherry tomatoes, and fresh shaved parmesan ($13.95).
The Champagne’s family was not going to let us out the door with out trying their signature Sweetheart Coconut Cake with fresh raspberry sauce and creme anglaise ($5.95) and, a chocoholic’s favorite, Callebaut Belgian Chocolate Mousse ($5.95)!
“We have been proud to serve the Newport Beach community for 23 years and are excited to now offer an elevated dining experience with bistro dining at dinner,” said co-owner Rand McDevitt. “We have kept most of the menu favorites while adding some wonderful new items that have caught on quickly …”.
I think you can see why it’s a great place to dine - it’s casual enough for family dining with ambiance suitable for date night and, with the friendly wait staff and addition of a lovely garden patio alfresco dining, Champagnes is better than ever.
Champagnes Bistro & Deli is located in Newport North Center at 1260 Bison Ave. (at MacArthur Blvd.) in Newport Beach. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and can be reached at (949) 640-5011.