In Newport Beach’s Fashion Island mall, there’s a little piece of Paris just waiting for you to find it. From the moment you walk in, it’s like stepping back in time. Red tin ceiling, dark woods, orangey-yellow walls covered in old prints or mirros, black and white tiled floor, and a wrap-around bar complete with miniature lamps and tucked away seating areas, perfect for that secret rendezvous. It’s called Brasserie Pascal and it is a true French bistro. I’ve dined at various other “French bistros” in my time that fall magnificantly short of what a real French bistro should be, in regards to the food and the atmosphere, but Brasserie Pascal hits all the right notes. Owned by Pascal Olhats, Brasserie Pascal is one in a series of French-inspired restaurants and cafes in the Newport Beach area. Chef/owner Olhats is originally from Normandy and has worked in places like Belgium, St. Tropez, and Lyon before coming to the States in 1984. He won Chef of the Year in 1991, is President of the French Chefs Association, and was awarded the Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2006. This guy knows what he’s doing! All the food at Brasserie Pascal is done in the true French fashion and full of all the classics, whether you’re choosing from teh appetizers, soups, entrees or desserts: wild Burgandy snails in garlic herb butter served en Croute; plate of homemade pate; cheese plate, baked brie; and a selection of mussles are just a handfull of the traditional starters.
For soups and salads, whether it’s the tradional French onion soup, the salad frisee Lyonnaise (frisee, poached egg and warm bacon dressing tossed tableside – a great warm weather dish), or their shrimp “Louis” (grilled romaine salad, egg, avocado, tomato and grilled shrimp) you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. They are open for lunch and serve sandwiches – plus the full menu – until 4pm, when just the regular menu stays, so if it’s a Croque Monsieur (warm ham and cheese with Béchamel sauce), a BLT or a roast turkey with gruyere cheese and avocado on ciabatta, there’s something yummy for lunchtime, too. Brasserie Pascal has four entree house specialties, as well as wide selection of steaks (8 oz filet, grilled flatiron, steak tartare, etc), fish and chicken dishes, like the roasted young free-range chicken, the rainbow trout almond meuniére in brown butter with mixed vegetables and fingerling potatoes, or the warm quiche Lorraine. As for the specialties, I’ve tried them all and they are all worthy of having the word “special” attached to them. Coq au Vin (red wine braised hen leg and thigh with bacon and pearl onions); cabernet braised short ribs with pureed potatoes, green beans and a hearty horseradish sauce; chicken cordon blue (breaded chicken filet stuffed with ham and cheese) served with parmesan risotto, mixed vegetables and a sherry cream sauce which I suggest getting on the side so you can put on extra; filet mignon stroganoff of fettuccini pasta, filet mignon, mushrooms and a dijon mustard sauce.
And the dessert menu is just a lengthy as the main menu, and includes a selection of souffles, cheeses, tarts, crepes, ice creams and sorbets.
Brasserie Pascal is definately a place where you can sit and take your time, enjoy a nice glass of wine (of which they have a wide variety all at very reasonable prices), have a well-prepared meal that will perk all the senses, and feel like you’re sitting in a little Paris bistro, the hum of the kitchen and other diners filling the background, the Eiffel Tower just a few blocks away……
And all is right with the world. http://pascalnpb.com/index.htm