The best mimosa I’ve ever had can be found in The Garden at Eastbluff at Provenance. Not a fan of diluting champagne with orange juice, the Eastbluff Mimosa with Cointreau and bitters sports a burnt blood orange peel (more like a wedge here) that captivated my tastebuds.
Launched in March, Provenance is the heart and soul of LUCCA Cafe’s Executive Chef Cathy Pavlos. While both LUCCA and Provenance feature local and seasonal ingredients, LUCCA, an award winning Orange County favorite, will always be a Mediterranean concept with primary inspiration coming from Italy, France and Greece, expanding outwards to the cuisines of all the countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea. The culinary inspiration for Provenance comes from the Napa Valley and Sonoma County which take the mother cuisines of Italy and France and, like California cuisine, layers it Pan Asian and Latin flavor concepts. An architect by training and profession, Pavlos applies architectural elements in the flavor profiles and plating of her dishes.
Sweet and Sour Winter Squash Medley, Black Kale and Pumpkin Seeds ($7.5)
At a pre-opening media luncheon, Executive Chef Pavlos noted that the essence of Provenance is captured in five words: LOCAL, AUTHENTIC, TRACEABLE, TRUSTED, and ETHICAL food. They cater to a “35 and up” crowd who look for these aspects in their food. In fact, the word “provenance” means to trace the origin of a valued object back to its roots, and that is their mission. Provenance relies on organic products, all natural products and proteins that are raised wild or cage free. Many of their vegetables are grown in the restaurants onsite organic garden. All sauces and pastries are made from scratch and the central focus of their kitchen concept is canning, preserving, smoking, curing, and pickling.
The garden drives the cuisine at Provenance and is expected to double its yield in a year.
The Napa-influenced menu features signature sandwiches at lunch and larger plates at dinner as well as a Sunday Farm Breakfast. The menu changes regularly based on the garden offerings and diners can expect humanely raised meats and wild seafood.
Roasted Jidori Chicken | blistered brussels sprouts, garden veggies, baby yukons ($23)
Rack of New Zealand Lamb | blood orange risotto, cilantro-macadamia nut pesto ($29)
Everything we tried was fresh, flavorful and thoughtfully executed. The layering of flavors was complex without being fussy or convoluted and freshness and quality was evident in all the dishes. Even the charcuterie is housemade.
Housemade Charcuterie | potted rillettes, duck pate, pickled vegetables, mustards ($23.5)
Chef Pavlos was raised in Huntington Beach when Orange County was still a rural, agriculture-based county. Her grandfather was a farmer and she grew up on farm-raised produce and learned to cook at the age of 4 beside her Italian grandmother. Growing up on a family farm in what is still a rural community, I found her produce centric dishes to be the most beautiful and imaginative of all. If I had to choose a favorite it would be the Salt Roasted Garden Beets. This dish would make even the most adamant beet-hater rethink their position on the root vegetable – Mandarin Aigre-Doux and Sherry-Maple Vinaigrette imparted a sweet, acidity which balanced the earthiness of the beets and complemented creamy di Stefano burrata and avocado beautifully.
Personal favorite: Salt Roasted Garden Beets | di Stefano Burrata, avocado, mandarin aigre-doux and sherry-maple vinaigrette ($14)
My second favorite was the whole smoked Idaho Trout presented with the head-on as is the European tradition and textured with ringlets of hearts of palm, artichoke hearts and fresh greens punctuated by salty, briny capers and smoked olives napped in a bright lemon cream. Summer on a plate.
Smoked Idaho Trout | hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, oven roasted tomatoes, capers, smoked olive and lemon cream ($27.5)
And, anything with a fried egg on top is always good for me, especially if it adorns a bed of rapini in braised in a spicy tomato sauce. ($8.5)
All this in a space best described as a contemporary wine country farmhouse where you can enjoy a leisurely repast comfortably inside or on the patio amidst the garden greenery.
Given the opportunity to remodel the location of the former Sage restaurant and her architectural background, Chef Pavlos together with Christine and Jerry Van Rooy designed a suburban restaurant prototype and adaptive reuse project likely to be published in trade magazines. VANROOY Design ― the team responsible for The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim ― designed the 2,500-square-foot restaurant, which features contemporary farmhouse elements throughout, complete with barn doors, rope pulleys and the use of wood, glass and metal. The main dining room and bar accommodate 60 guests, while the “back porch” provides an additional 35 outdoor seats overlooking the organic garden designed by Native Soils’ Kathy Agresto and the team responsible for similar spaces at the Montage Laguna Beach resort and Park Avenue Restaurant in Stanton.
Executive Chef Cathy Pavlos
Eastbluff Village Center
2531 Eastbluff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660