Great Maple, Libations and Seasonal Plates – Newport Beach, CA USA ☆☆☆☆☆
Great Maple is indeed a new favorite of mine amongst all eateries within or immediately surrounding the confines of Fashion Island. Their seasonal plates are created using farm fresh produce which makes for exceptionally delicious cuisine; Emphasis placed on the Healdsburg salad, creamy polenta small plate (minus pancetta for me) and market soup of the day (all of which have been outstanding so far, especially the butternut carrot and spinach soups). Seafood dishes are prepared to perfection and the Spicy Grilled Shrimp Prawn starter is positively piquant in its distinct flavor, somewhat reminiscent of my south of the U.S. border culinary experiences. Complimentary hot bread and sea salted, herb infused butter make for a magnificent addition to the experience. One note: It would be nice if gluten free items were available amongst the array of menu selections.
A diverse range of imaginative cocktails, many of which utilizing organic juices and liquors are available for those of us seeking a refreshing spirit or two. As much as I love organically grown anything, I’m not sure if something as toxic to the human body as liquor will benefit from certified pesticide-free ingredients. Does it reduce hangover intensity? Feel free to knock a few organic tequilas back and inform me as to whether there is a difference.
On top of the delicious food, you’ll typically spend far less time waiting hungrily for your table than a few other favorites such as R&D and True Foods. We’re always warmly greeted by the manager (or owner, will have to find out) at some point during our lunch which adds to the overall charm.
The inevitable cessation of our meal always results in prompt table clearing by friendly bus staff, followed by our bill shortly thereafter. I for one can thoroughly appreciate this. When any restaurant claims to be at all European, I immediately visualize wait staff neglecting me post initial seating process and sedately returning every thirty minutes or so. Did that make any sense? I really am trying to put it lightly that I don’t find slow service admirable. They may serve European dishes, but the service is far superior to much of what you’ll experience in Europe. Do ignore this aspect of my review if you are one who relishes a relaxing, laid back approach from your inattentive waiter; I do know that a lazy afternoon of conversation works for many.
Please eat here. Hope to see you there amongst the merry glut of organic liquor enthusiasts.