Saturday, January 31, 2009

Manhattan Supper Club -- money not quite well spent

Manhattan Supper Club
202 S Main Street
Orange, CA 92868

(714) 978-6161

If you're tired of restaurants in strip malls or restaurants in big malls, then try this place. It's definitely not in a mall. In fact, it is housed in its own 'cottage' which gives it a charming feel. The minute we were seat
ed I felt like I was dining in someone's home. The man helping us was friendly, perhaps a little too comfortable the way he approached me and the way he touches your shoulder or your back when he addressed me. Things like that don't really bother me but I know it bothers some people I know.

Foccacia is brought out to the table -- warm -- with a soft spread should you wish to use it. This was indeed a hit with everyone, especially my son who was famished. After ordering, the first course arrived in great time as everyone was ready to dig in. My French onion soup was pretty decent with nice chunks of onions in a hearty soup base. It's not as good as the one at Pescadou Bistro, but it's still tasty. Beet salad was lovely, although for some reason, I prefer chunks of beets in a salad rather than sliced, which is how they do it here. It
may just be me, but I find that it gives a completely different appeal to the taste of the beets themselves.

Butternut squash ravioli were really salty. It was obvious that they were seasoned with sea salt, which would have worked well had it been a little less heavy and more evenly distributed. Wild mushroom risotto on the other hand was under seasoned, which is better in my opinion since you can add salt to your dish. It's impossible to remove salt when it is already on your food.

Interestingly, the girls at the table all ordered fish while the guys all ordered steaks. I tried two of the steaks: the 14 oz prime New York and the 24 oz Cowboy Rib Eye. You would think that the more expensive steak -- the rib eye at $55 -- would have more flavor than the New York -- $42 -- but that wasn't the case. I found the New York to be very agreeable in flavor -- meaty and s
ucculent -- while the rib eye was bland and unimpressive.

Macadamia nut crusted halibut was well executed with the fish being flaky and moist. I'm not a huge fan of fruit as an accompaniment whether it be in a sauce or on the side so this dish is not one I would choose since it comes with a dollop of fresh mango atop the halibut. This dish reminds me of something Roy Yamaguchi would serve in his restaurants.

Sesame crusted ahi tuna was plain disgusting. The quality of the ahi was not good enough to serve it so rare. The strong fishiness of the ahi made it almost impossible to swallow. This confirms my philosophy of not ordering ahi or salmon at a restaurant. I don't eat ahi tuna or salmon unless I'm at a high end sushi restaurant and these are the only two types of fish I don't like cooked.

My friend's blackened mahi mahi was very salty so she sent it back. All I tasted was salt and nothing else. I could
n't even taste the fish. The man serving us -- which I presume is one of the owners -- came and took it away and brought back a freshly cooked one without the copious amount of seasoning. This time, the fish was perfectly cooked with really good flavors. I was able to distinguish the natural taste of the fish instead of just salt. The second time around was perfect!

Idaho trout (apparently on the lunch menu but they were very obliging and made if for me anyway when I requested it) was my favorite out of the four fish dishes. Although it was topped with so much cherry tomato halves and asparagus sprigs you couldn't even see the fish when it arrived, once I tasted the trout, I was very pleased with my choice. The fish was tender and moist and there was a lot of garlic which is a plus for me since I love it so much.

Manhattan Supper Club is a nice romantic spot to bring a date you wish to impress. The menu is a hit and miss, but from what I gather, if you order the right things, you could very well have an outstanding meal. Order the wrong items and your experience could be disastrous.

Apart from a few hiccups such as not bringing my trout with the rest of the party's entrees and screwing up the charges on two credit cards, I would say they tried their best to accommodate us without much fuss. Prices are on the steep side -- not quite on par with the food you get, but like I've stipulated before, it's a great place if you want to impress. If you just want an excellent meal which you won't have to pay an arm and a leg for, then this isn't for you.

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