A night at the theater is definitely more enjoyable when you begin the evening with a leisurely, scrumptious repast in a beautiful, relaxed setting; and there is none more strikingly elegant than Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge adjacent to Segerstrom Center for the Arts on the ground floor of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Trust me on this one, my husband and I have savored the creative fare of Executive Chef Ross Pangilinan for many a pre-theater dinner.
As season ticket holders of two orchestra seats for the first Thursday of every Broadway series production, I can usually report back to you with a delectable suggestion of where to dine for your theater evening should you make a night of it. Knowing that we can count on a delicious dining experience, we normally sip and sup at either Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge or Pinot Provence – both Patina Restaurant Group restaurants, both only a few steps away, or short walk, from Segerstrom Center.
Leatherby’s Executive Chef Ross Pangilinan continues to receive rave reviews for the Broadway dinners that he launched last year. He cleverly designs the menus and provocative names based on the songs and draws upon the era and themes of each production for inspiration. Recently, I had the privilege of experiencing highlights from the upcoming menus he has planned for the 2015 Broadway Series lineup. The evening was filled with conviviality and the vibrant, market fresh flavors of each course were expertly paired with wine (and beer in one instance) for a visually stunning panoply of flavors.
Currently on stage for the second week at Segerstrom Center is Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage – you’re sure to have the time of your life taking in the uplifting, heart-throbbing music, and sensational dancing. The passionate romance of this iconic love story is perfect for date night with your sweetie and, just a gentle reminder, Valentine’s Day is this weekend, so hurry and check for tickets, if you haven’t purchased them already!
In March, Nice Work If You Can Get It comes to town (March 17-22); Guys and Dolls (April 14-10); Annie (May 13-24); and Motown (June 16-18). The featured menu for each performance is available on the Patina Group/Leatherby’s website and is an excellent value with 3 courses at $45/person, $64 with wine pairings.
Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge boasts a minimalist interior with undulating walls of glass overlooking the plaza. Russet hues and high-walled booths lend warmth to the modern space that is perfect for a romantic evening and also fitting for dinner with friends or business associates.
Legendary architect, Cesar Pelli, designed the stunning curvilinear landmark which opened in 2006 and is home to Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge. Like the Milky Way on a clear night, there’s something about the golden aura of millions of brilliant lights highlighting the sensual ivory curves that always takes my breath away.
“Will You Remember Me?” is the main course from the Nice Work If You Can Get It menu. I’m not likely to forget this extraordinary rabbit braised in local beer and grainy mustard with orecchiette pasta, peas, bacon, carrot and pearl onion – totally satisfying comfort food with a touch of class, and my favorite of the evening. Truffles happen to be in season and Chef Ross treated us to generous shavings of the deliciously funky delicacy distinguished by its earthy, musky aroma.
“N.Y.C.” is featured on the Annie menu: bacon-wrapped East Coast monkfish, a flourish of apple celery puree and tomato-onion tart with buerre rouge. Next up, was “Hungry Eyes” from, you know this – Dirty Dancing, of course! The plating was exquisite, as was the symphony of textures and warm comfort that the dish delivers: CAB boneless beef Short Rib adorned with herb tempura alongside a beautiful Yukon Gold pave, King Trumpet mushrooms and cipollini onion.
And then, with the aplomb deserving of a truly elegant finale, “Berry Gordy”, from the Motown menu, had all eyes transfixed by the striking contrasts in color and myriad magnificent textures of the chilled “Berry” soup swirling around pistachio panna cotta with crumbled waffle cookie adding a delightful crunch that pops against the velvety custard and cool sorbet.
I can’t wait to see Dirty Dancing on Thursday and I admire the performer who can even come close to Patrick Swayze’s magnetic physical presence and inner vulnerability as Johnny Castle in the movie. If you aren’t able to catch Dirty Dancing, check out the upcoming shows and treat yourself to an evening of art and entertainment at the theater.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Box Office: (714)556-2787
Reservations: (714) 429 7640