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Five Stars for Five Crowns

by Tony Reverditto
Sunday Apr 30, 2017

The first time that I dined at Five Crowns was with friends back in 1977. We all loved it so much and thought it truly set the bar for "best restaurant." Through the years, we would return regularly and it has been consistently wonderful and delicious. When life experience guided me to food writing, the impression has remained the same during consequent visits.

These days, the interior has been updated, as is the food, yet they still pay homage to their classic cuisine, while incorporating modern techniques and recipes. That holds true for the property; every decoration, print and painting has a significant backstory illustrating part of the history that is now
50 years strong.

Kenyon Paar is the restaurant's new, impressive general manager, joining the team at the end of last year with over 25 years of experience in the food service industry. I found her to be a rare gem added to Five Crowns' crest and as a fine dining aficionado, she is determined to continue to innovate and elevate the dining experience.

Paar has worked at some of Southern California's most revered eateries and opened multiple fine dining establishments throughout Newport Beach, including: The Ritz Prime Seafood in 2015 and Fig & Olive in 2013, helping to put them on the map. She explained that her focus is all about providing an elite level of service, while striving to meet both the expressed and unexpressed needs of guests.

Now let's move from the front of house to the back of house and the fine cookery of Southern California native, Executive Chef, Steve Kling. He grew up eating Southern American and Filipino cuisine, Kling fondly recalls watching his two grandmothers transform raw ingredients into beloved family dishes. He began his career in the food industry as a young prep cook, ascending through the ranks of a family-owned eatery, eventually landing an Executive Chef Position at Los Angeles' popular sushi restaurant, Kado. His attention to detail and innovation helped pair him with esteemed chefs, including Chef Thomas Keller at Beverly Hills' Bouchon and Chef Katsuo Nagasawa at Ozuma in Newport Beach. When he joined the Lawry's Family Group in 2010, his strong work ethic and creativity for food, earned him the title executive chef in late 2014.

Our server was named Linda and is another example of the new energy at Five Crowns and is the epitome of what we all seek when dining: Personable, yet professional, service, completely well-versed on the menu, bringing warmth and knowledge to the overall dining experience.

Five Crown's handcrafted cocktails celebrate vintage concoctions such as Martinis, Cosmopolitans, Manhattans, the classic Old-Fashioned and Rob Roys. I couldn't resist Linda's recom- mendation, a Leche Libre; tequila, Hazel Street botanicals, lemon, washed and clarified rose syrup, served on hand-cut ice, brought from next door's Side Door Restaurant. My guest enjoyed a glass of 9.19 Chardonnay, from Suisun Valley; a crisp buttery finish with hints of butterscotch.

The new spring menu is impressive, and we began with Five Crown's Grilled Octopus; served with peas and greens. It was perfectly tender and seasoned beautifully. Over the years, I have experienced their soul-soothing Lobster Bisque and ours was better than ever; drizzled with a crème fraiche and sprinkled with chives.

Five Crowns is known for their signature Lawry's Prime Rib, but this evening I envisioned surf and turf and couldn't resist their Steak Neptune. A mouthwatering eight-ounce Filet Mignon presented over mashed potatoes, topped with crab, asparagus and béarnaise sauce. This dish is truly the best of both worlds. The Norwegian Halibut is another special delicacy; served amidst white asparagus, English peas, cauliflower puree and drizzled in a caper brown butter. If you lean towards a more healthy diet you will thoroughly enjoy the flavor profiles of this dish, as my dining companion certainly did.

Don't dine at Five Crowns without ordering the Truffle French Fries; thin cut and crispy, seasoned to perfection and not to be missed as an accompaniment or even as an appetizer.

All of the desserts are phenomenal, to be certain, but the true "living legend" at Five Crowns is by far their signature Dark Chocolate Soufflé. This scrumptious, gooey delight is made up of the most decadent chocolate (68 percent ) and is ridiculously embellished tableside, with a complimentary Devonshire double cream. And in second place? The Whisky Bread Pudding; stuffed with raisins and topped with heavenly whipped cream... Another home run.

Five Crowns has many classic and modern options on their well-rounded menu and it is next to impossible to decide on which appetizers, soups, salads and entrées to order. My advise? Follow your cravings during your visit and you can't go wrong, no matter what you order.

Book your wedding at Five Crowns, as a friend recently did; the intimate outdoor space is ideal for a memorable ceremony and reception. Multiple spaces throughout the property are available also for private functions, business meetings, retirement and awards dinners, anniversaries, birthdays,
celebrations of life and holiday parties.

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