Searching for a special date night spot or a unique place to dine with visiting family and friends during this holiday season? Look no further than Orange Hill, a gem of a restaurant perched high atop the hills of Orange with sweeping views over Anaheim and Disneyland to Los Angeles, extending west to the sea and Catalina Island.
Orange Hill has introduced an array of new bites, entrées and dessert items on its dining room and bar menus from Executive Chef Eric Mickle, which has guests “falling for fall” while sipping on seasonal craft cocktails from the talented bar staff and savoring delectable dishes with choices ranging from Prime steaks to premium fish and fowl, all while basking in the beauty of Orange County.
Accepting an invitation to preview the new menu and arriving early to catch another spectacular SoCal sunset, I wondered how, over the years, Orange Hill had fallen off my radar of places to go for date night. Recently voted Most Romantic Restaurant and Best Brunch by the OC Register, Orange Hill impresses in a casual, relaxed ambiance with an unbeatable view and an approachable menu focused on quality ingredients and locally sourced produce.
My friend Austin and I were pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face in Paul Piane smiling from behind the bar when we arrived. Having experienced Paul’s cocktail prowess at Maccallan’s Public House, which garnered them a 2016 Golden Foodie award for Best Cocktails, we knew immediately is was going to be an outstanding night.
After a lively exchange with bar craftsman Cole, as well as being swayed by our love for whiskey, we decided on the Smoke & Honey and the Frisco to begin the evening. The cocktail menu includes helpful flavor notes to aid guests in finding the perfect cocktail to suit their taste. And, if you don’t see one that pleases your palate, the exceptional bar staff will create a cocktail that fits your flavor profile.
Smoke & Honey ($14) – Makers Mark, vanilla citrus liqueur, honey bitters, Islay rinse and a flavor profile that is smoky, sweet and smooth. Smoke & Honey has risen to become the most popular cocktail and is now featured on all the bar menus of parent company SRC’s* family of unique independent restaurants.
The Frisco ($16) is a stunner with Jameson Caskmates, Benedictine, Apple brandy and lemon. With flavor notes listed as stout mocha, coffee, honey and baking spices we were intrigued, and it delivered! Each flavor was discernible, yet subtle and balanced. Refreshing and laced with warm baking spices it is perfect for our Indian summer autumn days.
Shrimp Corn Dog Dijonnaise and the Frisco cocktail.
The new O Bar is awash in brilliant orange with curvaceous booths, comfy conversational areas, and tables for 2 (or 4) overlooking the patio and expansive view by day and dancing flames of the fire pits and rows sparkling lights at night.
Cole highly recommended the Shrimp Corn Dogs ($3 each) and who were we to resist. A good homemade corn dog is the perfect shareable bar bite and these mini dogs are shrimp filled! The revamped bar bites include BBQ Duck Tacos, Short Rib Grilled Cheese and an Apple and Swiss Grilled Cheese. The duck tacos were calling my name, but word from the kitchen was the duck confit wasn’t quite ready. We decided to go light on appetizers, so we could fully appreciate the entrees ahead and ordered the Crab Cake with Citrus Tartar and Fennel Slaw ($16) to taste Orange Hill’s take on a perennial favorite. Now made with King Crab versus Blue Crab it contained a healthy amount of crab and lively bright flavors from citrus tartar sauce and fennel slaw.
Crab Cake with Citrus Tartar Sauce and Fennel Slaw
Pisco Inferno | Kappa Pisco, Nolet’s Gin, spearmint, orange, jalapeño and elderflower
The spicy, zesty, complex Pisco Inferno ($14) paired beautifully with the crab cake and has just the right amount of heat to liven your taste buds.
Remember I said the bar staff is happy to prepare your favorite cocktail? We decided to take them up on that and requested a New York Sour from Cole. This wine-spiked whiskey sour is a pre-prohibition tipple which Cole artfully prepared with a Rombauer Zin float and Angostura bitters.
Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass | Thai black rice, Chinese broccoli, sweet chili sauce
On the dinner menu you’ll find prime meats and specialties such as Coconut Shrimp, Seared Ahi, Roasted Prime Rib, Chilean Sea Bass and C.A.B New York Steak. After much discussion, we selected the most popular dish on the menu – the Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass and one of the new fall menu items – the Roasted Jidori Chicken, featuring a chicken breast with a truffled dark meat roulade, herbed dumplings and natural jus. Other highlights include the Kurobuta Pork Chop, served alongside a sweet potato purée, maple butter, and roasted apple; and Winter Squash Risotto, with Arborio rice, butternut squash purée and brown butter walnuts.
The Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass ($39) was outstanding – flaky and moist, the fish was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented perched on a bed of Thai black rice in a pool of spicy chili sauce. Also, perfectly executed the Roasted Jidori Chicken ($30) was, unfortunately, under seasoned and begged for more color and texture in its plating. Being a new menu item, we offered our feedback when asked and I think diners will experience a more colorful and flavorful dish.
The kitchen’s star reaches zenith with their fall preparation of Orange Hill’s popular Skirt Steak (10 oz., $30) in a vivid green, piquant chimichurri sauce adorned with caramelized shallot potato cake and broccolini. Expertly seared to a perfect medium rare, this entree will have you returning for more.
Recognizing two avid booze hounds, Cole (pictured above) continued to up the ante and surprise us with what O Bar offers the sophisticated spirit and wine aficionados of Orange County and beyond. A respectable wine list of European and California wines with sought-after labels such as Caymus Rutherford and Justin Isosceles available by the bottle, and the glass. Top-shelf aged and single barrel whiskeys and an impressive selection of champagnes, sparkling wines and champagne cocktails. For craft beer lovers, there are six rotating taps and bottled beers with a local focus.
Dessert options include Sticky Toffee Pudding and Lemon Meringue Pie along with forever popular Creme Brûlée, Chocolate Lava Cake, and an Artisanal Cheese Plate. Or, given an appointed designated driver, further imbibe with an after dinner specialty cocktail, digestif or dessert wine.
You will come away from Orange Hill deeply satisfied having enjoyed a wonderful dining experience with great company and a renewed appreciation for Orange County’s unique mix of urban lifestyle and natural beauty.
*Orange Hill is proud to be a part of Specialty Restaurants Corporation (SRC). Founded in 1958 by David Tallichet, SRC is family-owned and provides customers with beautifully appointed restaurants and facilities with breathtaking panoramic views of city skylines, waterfronts and airports. SRC holds an impressive portfolio of 21 award-winning restaurants throughout the United States. SRC Event Group has over 50 years of experience in hospitality, providing on and off-site event production, coordination and design services for corporate and special events, making for flawless, unforgettable celebrations. For more information, visit www.specialtyrestaurants.com.
6410 East Chapman Avenue
Orange, CA 92869
CHEERS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
The Alexander cocktail predates the better known Brandy Alexander. It is a classic cocktail of gin, white crème de cacao, light cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg and an utterly delectable dessert in itself. And deliciously crafted by Paul Piane.