Pdho and I took Pdho’s parents out to dinner to celebrate his Mama’s birthday. Pdho and I don’t live in the area anymore, so it was a little harder to try and narrow down a place to take her, but thanks to my sister and Yelp, I ended up making reservations at Tradition by Pascal. It’s a French restaurant located in a random strip mall surrounded by corporate buildings all around in Newport Beach. Although it seems odd, it also seems quite typical for Orange County which is surburbia at its best. Ambiance aside, I was quite curious to see how the food would be especially since there were some good reviews on Yelp, and the chef seemed to be a French native.
We debated back and forth whether to do a prix-fixe menu or order a la carte, and eventually decided that we liked too many things that we couldn’t get on the prix-fixe. We were all quite cautious about eating too much so we ended up ordering 3 appetizers to share amongst the four of us.
The steamed mussels came in a cast-iron bowl and were filled to the brim with a healthy serving of some of the largest, plumpest mussels I’ve ever seen.
The Beets Salad was beautifully presented with contrasting yellow and red beets. The beets were chopped and mixed with lemon-flavored goat cheese, roasted hazelnuts, and a sherry vinaigrette. It tasted good, but it wasn’t anything super special.
The Lobster Bisque was quite rich without being too heavy. It had some distinct seafood-infused flavor, but I’m not quite sure I could tell it was lobster. Again, it was a fine tasting soup, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Pdho ordered the Beef Bourguignon which turned out to be the least impressive dish of the meal. The sauce kind of tasted a little too tomato-ey which I found a little bit odd and not like what I would imagine for Beef Bourguignon, but maybe I’ve just never had it that way. Although the meat was cooked quite tender, I didn’t like the texture of the beef. I don’t know if it was the particular type of beef that they chose, but it just tasted a little dry and stringy.
Pdho’s Mama ordered the lamb chops and couldn’t stop raving about them the whole time. I was a little bit hesitant to try them, because of my aversion to the strong gamey taste that comes with lamb. It’s a rare occasion when I find a preparation of lamb that perfectly minimizes that odd taste, and this happened to be one of those times. The lamb was cooked medium rare leaving the meat quite tender and juicy. A pretty strong dish overall.
Pdho’s Papa ordered the Bouillabaisse Provençal which was probably the best dish of the evening. The Bouillabaisse Provençal included a variety of seafood in a spicy saffron and tomato broth. There was steamed bass, clams, mussels, shrimp and squid. The seafood was plentiful and well-cooked, the broth was a great mix of complex flavors. If it weren’t for my stupid contest, I would have asked for more bread to sop up all of the broth.
For the life of me, I can’t recall the exact name of this dish. I remember there being a specific French name of the dish that referred to the type of sauce that was used in the pasta, but it was essentially a seafood pasta. Although my entire family will mock and poke fun at my consistent attraction to all things creamy, I really didn’t know it was a cream-based sauce when I ordered it. I was more attracted to the plethora of seafood, and when it arrived my taste buds immediately started salivating as I waited for Pdho to take pictures. All the seafood was well-cooked and the pasta was on the firmer side of al dente, but it all came together nicely with somewhat light but decidedly cream sauce.
The Thin Apple Tart was definitely one of the better apple tarts I’ve ever had. It came served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream a la mode. The thinness of the entire tart was light and crispy, and the best part was that it was sweet without being overwhelming so. I really, really liked it. I don’t say it often, but this was a perfect end to the meal.
Tradition by Pascal probably feels a little bit out of place in the Orange County dining scene, or at least my experience with it, but I actually think it’s a pretty decent restaurant with some good food. It may not have the depth and complexity in the execution of their dishes to compete with the some restaurants in SF or NYC, but if you’re looking for a nice French restaurant for a special occasion, I would throw this into the mix.
Tradition by Pascal
1000 Bristol St N.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
PAFO Ratings for Tradition by Pascal:
Price 3½ stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3 ½ stars