I’ve been lucky enough in the past few weeks to try two new restaurants in Orange County…Royal Hen (website not up & running just yet, but check back) on Balboa Island and Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens.
Royal Hen is ADORABLE! From the inviting banquette seating area in the front of the restaurant to the pub-y atmosphere in the back, it’s warm, cozy, and a welcome addition to Balboa Island.
My sister and I shared each course, so we could try a little bit of everything. You have to have the chicken cracklins’ appetizer…fried chicken skin with a dab of avocado mousse and a little spicy touch. Melt in your mouth! We had a salad (I think it was a kale caesar?) that was dressed perfectly and chopped finely. The hamburger and fries are to die for…but the foie gras macaroon is too sweet to be called an appetizer, but might be okay if they added it to the end of their menu as a dessert…and the presentation is beautiful. We went right after their “soft” opening
and they’re definitely still working out the kinks, but our server was very nice, polite and well informed…but don’t expect a quick meal. When I have slow service, I choose to make believe I’m in Europe, where they never rush you and you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere and conversation. What’s the rush?!
The Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens is beautiful…as you would expect from Roger’s Gardens. It is warm and inviting, complete with gazebo for a small group dinner and larger areas for an outdoor banquet. My first meal here was less than great. I had the pork tenderloin and, to be honest, it was a bit dry. My daughter had the vegetable plate and it was a mixture of hot and cold, which was a bit odd. The RG-burger is definitely the biggest hit on the menu, and my brother-in-law and another friend with us enjoyed theirs.
I went back last night with my friend, Nancy, and we took a couple of seats at the bar, which was perfect! I had the roasted beet salad and asked for chicken to be added. I know it’s probably not too hard to screw up a salad, but sometimes they’re overdressed or just not the correct ratio of lettuce to accoutrements, but this was just right. There were lots of beets, with melting goat cheese and the chicken was a yummy addition. Did I mention that the ambience is second to none?!
I will definitely be going back to both places! I love the vibe at both….warm and homey!
One more to try that I haven’t….but have heard from Mare, Taylor and Amy that it’s great…is Cafe Gratitude on 17th in Newport Beach.
Have you been to the Royal Hen on Balboa Island, Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens or Cafe Gratitude? What did you think?
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!