(Credit: Courtesy of Fig & Olive]

(Credit: Courtesy of Fig & Olive]


Spring menus stir up mental images of quality food—food full of fresh ingredients and plenty of color. While the green from verdant veggies is a must, many local restaurants are also incorporating plenty of citrus for that extra pop of color. Read on to find out which Orange County eateries will make you want to sit out on the patio in the sun and dine on fresh food this spring.
(Credit: Courtesy of Driftwood Kitchen)

(Credit: Courtesy of Driftwood Kitchen)


Driftwood Kitchen
619 Sleepy Hollow Lane
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-7700
www.driftwoodkitchen.com
Overlooking the ocean in Laguna Beach, Driftwood Kitchen is a great spot to enjoy a springtime lunch or dinner. Chef Rainer Schwarz utilizes seasonal produce and fresh seafood to craft new dishes this spring, inspired by the ocean itself. In addition to things like yellow corn and heirloom tomatoes, the chef uses squash, Yukon gold potatoes, spring peas, cauliflower, mushrooms and green and red papaya to create colorful dishes reflective of the season. These dishes include smaller items like Mexican-style Chilled Corn Soup, Caramelized Onion and Leek Soup, Summer Squash Blossoms and Crispy Thai Calamari Steak as well as larger plates like Venus Clams and Meatballs, Bay of Maine Monkfish and Grilled Colossal Tiger Prawns with Dates. They also offer a selection of fine cocktails crafted with many fine bourbons and whiskeys.

(Credit: Courtesy of Fig & Olive)

(Credit: Courtesy of Fig & Olive)

Fig & Olive
151 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 887-3005
www.figandolive.com
One of OC’s favorites, Fig & Olive, has launched a new spring menu filled with items that are bright, colorful and flavorful—definitely a reflection of the end of wintertime! With green vegetables that signal the start of the new season and a variety of citrus components, the new dishes are beautiful as well as tasty. Common ingredients include things like asparagus, peas, arugula, carrots, oranges and heirloom tomatoes. To start, try the Provencal Carrot and Thyme Soup—which features olive oil croutons, onion, celery, heirloom baby carrots and garlic—or the Crab Salad filled with snow peas, asparagus and arugula in a blood orange dressing. For your main entrée, the Sea Scallops feature snow peas, green apples, lime and cilantro and the Filet Mignon is marinated with various herbs, mushrooms and mascarpone cheese. Don’t forget to try the Clementine Vacherin for dessert. With blood orange coulis, clementine sorbet, white chocolate mousse and meringue, it’s the best of all worlds.

(Credit: Courtesy of Stacked: Food Well Built)

(Credit: Stacked: Food Well Built)


Stacked: Food Well Built
7490 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(657) 845-2100
www.stacked.com
Though they add new signature items each month, Stacked: Food Well Built has some options that are perfect for spring on their upcoming menu. With crisp veggies, rich cheeses and sauces made in-house, the ingredients make the dishes. These new items include a new Cobb salad, the Huevos Chorizo Mac and the Breggfast Pizza—a flatbread topped with cheese, veggies, avocado and an egg right in the center. Another spring signature item is the Pepper Stack n Egg Burger, a burger topped with pepper jack cheese, roasted poblano peppers, roasted red pepper aioli sauce and an egg. In addition to food, you’ll find new drink items as well, including the signature cocktail, a blackberry mojito. There are also two new shakes, the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Shake and the Shake Stack, which features candied bacon, pancake bits and caramel. It even comes with mini pancakes!

(Credit: Courtesy of Babette’s)

(Credit: Courtesy of Babette’s)


Babette’s
7962 East Coast Highway
Newport Coast, CA 92657
(949) 715-9915
www.babettesnewportbeach.com
This spring, head to Babette’s in Newport Beach for tasty, “clean” food. Their food uses local and seasonal organic sustainable ingredients. In addition to staying healthy, Babette’s wants to emphasize helping local growers and farmers to keep their businesses going. Enjoy plant-based dishes like Organic Tofu Picatta, made with spinach, chickpeas, herb potatoes and a lemon caper sauce, or the Penne Pesto featuring sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus and baby heirloom tomatoes. They also offer an Asian Vegetable Saute crafted with broccoli, carrots, asparagus and brown rice. On top of spring entrees, the restaurant has introduced a new line of cold-pressed juice cocktails like the kale, cucumber and vodka-filled Green Machine and the Pineapple Express—blending pineapple, cilantro and rum.

(credit: Ann P./Yelp)

(credit: Ann P./Yelp)


Boathouse Collective
1640 Pomona Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 646-3176
www.boathousecollective.com
The Boathouse Collective is more than a restaurant, with an event space offering food, cocktails, art, music and special events depending on the day. These is, however, a full-service dinner restaurant at the venue that offers a family style dining experience, encouraging guests to put their phones away and soak up the evening. Get an appetizer of poke or kale before moving on to Duck Breast with orange segment or Pork Flank with shallot and thyme. The Prime Burger also includes roasted tomatoes, pickled beets and onion aioli sauce. Their sides also feature seasonal ingredients; consider trying the baby squash, the grilled cauliflower or the roasted Japanese sweet potato. For dessert, they offer bread pudding and butterscotch panna cotta. Their cocktail menu also features fresh produce with items like lemons, grapefruit, pineapple, cucumber and lime.

(Credit: Courtesy of Provenance)

(Credit: Courtesy of Provenance)


Provenance
2531 Eastbluff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 718-0477
www.provenanceoc.com
As a restaurant modeled after Napa Valley, it’s no surprise that the spring menu involves fresh, delicious flavors. The farmhouse décor pairs perfectly with the high-quality ingredients used in the restaurant’s entrees. A good portion of their produce is grown on-site in a garden; therefore, seasonality is a major influence on the dishes offered. For spring, new brunch and lunch mentions offer some especially tasty treats. The Brioche French Toast features mixed berry compote, lime-infused Greek yogurt and fresh mint—it’s like eating dessert for breakfast. The Chilequiles are another great option: crispy tortillas filled with pork belly, a fried egg, black beans, corn, goat cheese and lime. For lunch, you’ll want to try the street taco platter—we’re talking charred Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce leaves and garlic slivers along with some other tasty additions and spices. Even the grilled asparagus is a delectable dish that’s perfect for springtime.

(credit: Carrie U./yelp)

(credit: Carrie U./yelp)


Leatherby’s Café Rouge
615 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 429-7640
www.scfta.org
Located within the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Leatherby’s Café Rouge absolutely must be paired with a show. The café is only open for dinner on performance nights and for lunch before matinee shows, but that shouldn’t deter you from stopping by the French-inspired restaurant to sample their new spring menus. With a different menu for each show—and dishes named after the one—you’ll find some pretty interesting eats. The Book of Mormon’s Orlando pairs shrimp, avocado and butter lettuce with tropical fruit and the I Am Africa is a duck leg confit with figs, roasted carrots and a coconut peanut sauce. The dessert during Cinderella will be a deconstructed apple tart, with pickled apples, mascarpone, salted caramel sauce and cardamom ice cream. Before the Sound of Music, visitors can enjoy pork chops with a warm potato and Brussels sprout salad.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.

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