The Golden Truffle, Costa Mesa

Few would or could argue. Alan Greeley, chef-owner of The Golden Truffle, is one of the best chefs in OC.

Duck rillettes with made-in-house pickles and Alan’s mustard, plus room-temp-cooked-perfect fingerling potatoes, French Breakfast radishes and crostini ($8). Yum.

Spoon Spinach Salad with poached egg and hot bacon shallot dressing ($12). This dressing is so delicious, you could spoon it over an old boot and enjoy the chew.

Heirloom Chocolate Cherokee Tomatoes, Arugula, Maldon Salt, Black Truffles & Olive Oil ($16)  – what a delectable salad … but wait it gets better.

Chef Greeley stopped by to chat about his fresh Italian Black summer truffles. They are less aromatic in the summer, but he loves the texture and the fact that he can really indulge because they are less costly (a relative term).

Back and forth on his mandoline. Shh, shh, shh, shh. The paper-thin slices piled up.

Life is so darn good.

Spinach Salad got even better when truffle-fied.

Pan Roasted White Sea Bass with Capers and Open-Faced Cheese Tamale ($19). I’m betting that this dish will be on my Top Five Dishes of the Year List.  Greeley spreads the masa on banana leaves and steams it open-faced – about ten minutes. Then the “tamale” is topped with beautiful bass, a light tomatillo sauce, fresh baby heirloom tomatoes, queso fresco, capers and cilantro.

Choucroute with Alan’s homemade sauerkraut and very tasty sausages served atop some of the best mashed potatoes on the planet, accompanied with spicy mustard ($25).

 Vanilla ice cream served with pluot sauce and bee pollen. And banana “soup” topped with a warm Brazilian donut.

Fresh lychees and rambutans served on crushed ice.


Love the flowers in the hotel’s lobby. Always takes my breath away.

enoSTEAK, The Ritz Carlton, Dana Point

This cozy space in the hotel used to house Eno Wine, Cheese & Chocolate. The dark wood and central Aureole-style wine tower make the room comfortably chic.

They had me at the start, with the bread “plate.”

Exquisite chicken liver pate topped with caramelized honey-roasted shallots accompanied by beautiful breads from JRC Bakery in Tustin (they’ve made a concerted effort to buy local).

Asparagus and Gioia Burrata Salad with Chardonnay smoked salt and lemon-basil vinaigrette ($12). Again, a local source – Gioia Cheese is in El Monte.

Red Wine Flight: La Vendimia, Roja; J. Dusi, Zinfandel; Chalone Vineyard, Pinot Noir.

Note: Phil isn’t asleep. He is just letting a little Pinot roll around his palate. He would never nap when a great steak is about the arrive at the table.

You have a choice of compound butters to accompany your steak. We decided on Black Summer Truffle Butter (see a pattern here?). But also ordered up a little pitcher of Bearnaise sauce – light and lovely with fresh tarragon.

Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin from Sun Fed Farm – 8 ounces ($50). See that truffle butter working its way over the surface of the steak? I had the Niman Ranch Grilled Prime Rib Eye Steak – 10 ounces ($48). Sometimes when the kitchen isn’t up to snuff, rib eyes can be just too darn fatty. But this was really delicious, tender and very flavorful – half topped with truffle butter and half topped with my old friend Bearnaise.

Dessert selections change every week. We sampled Lemon Pudding Cake served with marinated strawberries, caramelized almonds and sour cream sorbet ($13). I loved the sprinkling of oh-so-narrow candied lemon peel.