BACK BAY BISTRO Spring Menu Unveiled Lunch by the Bay
By Kay Schroeder
Newport Beach (Perfect Meal Today) 3/20/17/–Although I never lived in Newport Beach, I was fortunate enough to have worked for many years at Ford Aerospace on Ford Road, just a couple of miles from Newport Dunes. A bit of nostalgia set in when Photographer/Writer, Tom Wright and I joined other members of the media to have lunch at Back Bay Bistro as they introduced their new Spring Menu and celebrated their 30th anniversary.
The Spring Menu is one of the three new menus to be unveiled this year by Executive Chef Bruno Massuger. The thirty-year journey has taken (BBB) from a small café to a world-class restaurant with a stunning view of the Back Bay Nature Preserve. In the late afternoons, guests often enjoy a cocktail or dinner as they watch boats coming in after a fun-filled day on the water. Sometimes maneuvering the boat onto the ramp proves to be a little more challenging at that time of day.
The award-winning American cuisine is evidenced in Executive Chef Massuger’s wide variety of fresh, local seafood and selected prime steaks. The well appointed bar features twelve BBB specialty cocktails that are as appealing to the eye as they are to the palate. No wonder BBB received “Diners Choice Award” by Open Table as one of the top 10 brunch restaurants in Orange County.
The Spring Menu Celebration was on: Our reservation was for 11:30 a.m., however, we arrived almost a half hour early. Our early arrival seemed not to ruffle the restaurant staff though; they warmly welcomed and seated us immediately, advising us to take our time and to order whenever we were ready. Our early arrival allowed us time to learn a little more about the restaurant. The dining room and bar had large roof sections that retract at the touch of a button to reveal a large expanse of beautiful, blue sky during the day and a star-studded sky at night. Typical of Newport Beach weather, Wednesday was cool and beautifully sunny.
A few minutes later, Executive Chef Massuger came to our table to greet us and to introduce himself. We spent a few minutes chatting and then it was time for him to return to his many duties in the kitchen on this busy lunch day.
Soon afterward, Ricardo, our waiter came to welcome us and presented us with the Spring Menu with many tantalizing offerings and options for both food and drink.
Petit Plates: For appetizers the menu listed three items:
- Sage Ravioli Marzano: Marinara Sauce & Italian Sausage with Fried Sage.
- Back Bay Bistro Clams: Steamed Little Neck Clams, White Wine Butter Sauce.
- Yellow Fin Ahi Sashimi: Seaweed Salad, Wasabi, Pickled Ginger.
As difficult as the task was, we chose the Back Bay Bistro Clams and the Yellow Fin Sashimi. The clams were numerous and arrived in a wonderfully seasoned broth. These were the most flavorful clams I had ever eaten! The Yellow Fin Ahi Sashimi consisted of several gorgeous red pieces of ahi accompanied by greens and ginger. The large basket of assorted rolls was a nice addition.
Entrées: Perusing the menu, I counted seven entrée salads. They were:
- Bistro Salad: Mesclun Salad, Tomato Wedge, Cucumber, Carrot, Choice of
- Kale Caesar: Kale, Crisp Romaine, Fresh Garlic, Parmesan Cheese, Garlic
Croutons with House-Made Caesar Dressing.
- Antipasto Salad: Romaine, Julienne Sliced Italian Cured Meats, Pepperoncini, Red, Green and Yellow Peppers, Olives, Tomato, Mozzarella.
- Calamari Salad: Mesclun Greens, Tomatoes, Olives, Bell Peppers with Cured Calamari Steak, Pickled Onions, Capers.
- Cobb Salad: Iceberg Lettuce, Turkey, Shrimp, Bacon, Crumbled Bleu Cheese, Avocado, Tomato, Egg, Bleu Cheese Dressing.
- Bistro Steak Salad: Pan Seared Steak, Romaine Lettuce, Feta Cheese, Dijon Mustard, Infused Olive Oil Dressing.
- Back Bay Bistro Taco Salad: Tortilla Cup, Iceberg Lettuce, Chicken, Avocado, Sour Cream, Chives, Pico de Gallo.
The following six sandwiches listed were:
- Back Bay Bistro Burger: 8 oz. Brandt Ranch Sirloin, Sautéed Onions, Sliced Tomato, Chiffonade of Lettuce, Cheddar Cheese on a Brioche Bun.
- Parisian Chicken: Grilled Chicken Breast, Heirloom Tomato, Arugula, Bacon, Brie Cheese, Ranch Aioli on a Brioche Bun.
- Tuna by the Bay: Albacore Tuna Salad, Lemon, Sliced Tomato, Aged Cheddar Cheese, Grilled on Sourdough Bread.
- Santa Fe Turkey: Grilled Fresh Turkey, Jack Cheese, Fire Roasted Ortega Chilies.
- NY Reuben: Carved Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Thousand Island Dressing on Rye Marble Roll.
- Blackened Swordfish: Cilantro Lime Aioli, Napa Cabbage on Ciabatta Square.
Enticing as the salads and sandwiches were, it was the Signature Dishes that caught my eye. The five Signature Dishes were:
- Crab Cakes: Lump Blue Crab Meat and Canadian Rock Crab, Seasonal Vegetables, Lemon Tarragon
- Grilled Baja Fish Tacos: Grilled White Fish, Corn Tortillas, Cabbage, Avocado, Lime, Cilantro Slaw.
- Fish and Chips: Alaskan Cod, Lager Beer Batter, Bistro Frites.
- Grilled Salmon: Beer Beurre Blanc, on a Bed of Spaghetti Squash, Walnuts and Bacon Pieces.
- Calamari Steak: Grilled Calamari, Imported Olive Oil, Topped with Mediterranean Salsa.
Tom opted for the Calamari Steak while I (never able to resist them when I see them), chose the Crab Cakes. Sharing allowed us to taste both items. The Crab Cakes and the Calamari both ranked high on our satisfaction scale.
Dessert: While trying to decide whether we dare have dessert, two items on the menu made the decision for us. Nine incredibly enticing choices were presented:
- Bread Pudding: With Bourbon Sauce.
- Lava Cake: Warm from the Oven with Chocolate Sauce.
- Tiramisu Mason: Marinated Coffee Biscuit with Mascarpone Cream.
- Crème Brulee: Traditional Custard with Fresh Berries.
- Apple Pie a la Mode: Fresh Baked with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
- New York Cheese Cake: With Raspberry Sauce.
- Sorbet: With Fresh Berries.
- Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: With Fresh Berries.
- Carrot Cake: Lightly Spiced with Cream Cheese Frosting.
We decided if we had coffee with the dessert, it would surely dilute the calories, thus making it safe to have dessert. My choice: Tiramisu Mason; Tom’s choice: Crème Brulee. The pronounced, toasty coffee flavor took this Tiramisu up a delicious notch. What can be said of Crème Brulee – It is always delectable!
With lunch coming to an end, I would be totally remiss if I did not mention Lori Baumann. Lori is the Banquet Manager and never was there a more perfect person for that job. Lori with her effervescent personality was able to engage with guests in a relaxed, innovative and fun manner. Her genuine interest in others and her passion for her job were clearly present. She told us of some upcoming events that we are certainly hoping to attend. Kudos to all of the other staff members also for their attentive and friendly service.
Special thanks go to Kathryn Riordan, PR & Marketing Coordinator at The ACE Agency for her hard work in making this event a great success.
Back Bistro Bay: American Cuisine, Seafood Menu, Specialty Cocktails, Import Bottle Beer and Live Music. Oh yes, they have a dog-friendly patio too.
1131 Back Bay Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Lunch: Tuesday ~ Friday 11:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner: Tuesday ~ Sunday 5:00pm – Close
Happy Hour: Tuesday ~ Sunday 4:00pm – Close
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 9:00am – 2:00pm
(2) hour maximum on Brunch dining, last Reservation is 1:30pm
Photography: Tom Wright