We were invited to check out the new Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's in the South Coast Plaza over the weekend. The idea of dining in a mall, even a fancy schmancy mall, isn't always a creme de la creme experience (see: Cheesecake Factory/Grove/Americana), but having Palmer's name and his people in SoCal is good news. There's something very Vegas about the space---soaring ceilings, a huge bar and lounge, lots of shiny surfaces---but stylish, comfortable. After opening several Palmer restos in New York and around the country, chef Amar Santana now heads up OC location; he's personalized the menu with house-made charcuterie (chorizo, lomo, summer sausages, salami) and plancha-grilled seafood and meats, but it's still classic Palmer: seasonal, simple, unfussy. The charcuterie, the farro risotto with morels or the crimini mushrooms with oxtail ragout are worth the drive alone, and the electronic wine list will keep the wine geeks happy for hours. Charlie Palmer sightings: 1, on his way out. Real Housewives of Orange County sightings: 0, but expect them and their clones any day now. Previously.
All-you-can-eat Korean barbecue in Chinatown, Lebanese street food in Eagle Rock, and more