Chef Jason Montelibano has really hit his stride with creative menu planning this year at EATS Kitchen & Bar, first there were the globally-inspired dishes he featured for Thanksgiving dinner and, now, tantalizing daily specials to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas.
With the hot scene at adjacent Red Bar, you are absolutely in for a fun evening any day you decide to come in. Imbibe, socialize, satisfy and indulge your inner foodie in the mood-elevating, casually sophisticated, modern ambiance of Hotel Irvine.
The icy pale Snowflake reflects the fiery flames.
Take the chill off the cool December evenings by beginning with a pretty fireside cocktail like the Snowflake (blueberry vodka, sparkling wine, touch of lemon, finished with a sugar rim and frozen blueberries) and getting cozy in the warmth of the flickering fire pit before sitting down to savor bites from Chef Jason’s kitchen at EATS.
Below are a list of the special seasonal dishes, reasonably priced at $10 for the cocktails, with dishes ranging from $12 to $22. The savory dishes that call out to me are the “Four Calling Birds” Roasted Squab and the another one that jumps off the menu is the ” Ten Lords a Leaping” Crispy Frog Legs. Hehe – having fun with words. Sweetness abounds with “Two Turtle Doves” Chocolate Turtle Doves and “Five Golden Rings” Donut Rings catching my eye. A limited number of the daily dish will be available so, if one is calling your name, I suggest coming earlier in the evening.
I was fortunate to be among a group invited to partake in a tasting preview of Chef Jason’s Twelve Days of Christmas. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store on for a few of the twelve days:
“Nine Ladies Dancing” – Pink Lady cocktail of gin, half and half, fresh cherry and raspberry juice punctuated with a fresh cherry – no maraschinos here. Luscious and sweet, it was like having dessert first.
My “Partridge In A Pear Tree” begged for more greenery for a better photo, but the bruschetta with chunky pear jam, arugula, and brie cheese on toasted ciabatta drizzled with a port reduction and topped with a quail egg was packed with flavor and made for a dazzling intro to dinner.
“Six Geese A Laying” Six-Spice Duck Breast was the unanimous star of the evening. Served with piquant pickled raspberries, a swirl of Piloncillo au jus, bright carrot puree, and punctuated with dots of ebony Bing cherry gelee. Insane deliciousness!
“Three French Hens” Coq au Vin was classically prepared chicken thighs simmered in red wine with Chef Jason selecting veal stock to impart a deeper complexity to the au jus. I loved that it was served with a surprising flourish of cheddar garlic Anson Mills grits instead of mashed potatoes.
The grand finale: “Eleven Pipers Piping” was an elegant layered confession of lemon chiffon cake, lavender pastry cream, macerated blueberries and sugar-coated blueberries with a shard of salty/sweet almond brittle that had us all swooning. Surprise, surprise! The contents of our parting gift happened to be more almond brittle – most of which did not make it to the car.
More holiday happenings at EATS and Red Bar include an EATMas Holiday Bash on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and Chef Jason’s New Year’s Eve celebration with two seatings. The 9:30 p.m. seating includes champagne toast and complimentary entry to Red Bar and Lounge’s NYE Party. To view the menu and make reservations visit EATS events page.
17900 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92614