Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine

Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. Last Friday my husband and I were invited to Bacchus Bar and Bistro to taste some wines and delicious food from their Bistro menu. All opinions are mine and it is my opinion that you need to go and try this restaurant out for yourself.

Located in a quiet shopping center in Irvine (Sand Canyon and the 405 Fwy), Bacchus is a hidden gem that I am pleased to share with you. I’ve shopped in this center for years and thought this was a just a wine shop. And while that may be how it started out, it has evolved in to a full fledged bistro with great beers and wines and a fantastic menu that I can’t wait to eat my way through.

Wine everywhere at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. The interior was larger than I expected but still felt intimate. It was the perfect date night spot but also seems perfect for a girl’s night out situation. There is a tiny little patio out front which I am now dreaming about for sipping rose on a summer evening. From the moment my husband and I walked inside we asked ourselves how we had never been there before. And of course, started planning our return visits. I love how they have the wines displayed. It feels like you are in a wine cellar and it made it feel very warm and cozy.

The food is exceptional at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. I thought it was just a wine bar, but it is not. It's delicious! Along with a great list of beer and wines, Bacchus also has an awesome menu. There are plenty of plates to share and dishes that will appeal to all kinds of palettes. This is not a steakhouse kind of a place so if the men in your group are looking for a hearty steak, they aren’t going to find it here. But they will find a delicious looking burger (on my list of things to try on my next visit) and other hearty sandwiches (I’ve got my eye on you too, Lobster Grilled Cheese!) as well as some foodie favorites like a lamb quesadilla and veal and fontina meatballs. So instead of stopping here for a drink before or after dinner, this is where you should spend your night. And on the weekends, they feature live music. Such a great spot!

Great atmosphere and rad staff at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. The space is comfortable and the staff is crazy knowledgeable. The decor is simple and there are two televisions for viewing sports, which of course, my husband loved. The TVs didn’t make it feel masculine or like a sports bar at all, which I liked.  When we arrived for our 6 pm reservation there were only a few tables filled. But by the time we left, the place was full. Be sure to make a reservation to ensure your spot!

Build your own cheese board at Bacchus Bar and Bistro, Irvine.Who doesn’t love a good cheese plate? They make it super easy to order what you like by filling out their order form. I loved that there were some straight forward choices but then a few that sounded totally unusual like the Barely Buzzed Espresso and Lavender! I knew my husband wouldn’t be in to that so I saved that one for next time I go. But we did try the Chevre with Rose Preserves. The rose preserves were way more subtle than I was expecting and was absolutely delicious. We kept it simple by ordering the French Bread, but it came out warm and crusty and was ridiculously good as only warm bread can be.

A delicious Pinot Noir from a great date night spot in Irvine: Bacchus Bar and Bistro.Just as I was about to order my standard Sauvignon Blanc, our server, Julia, came by and offered us a glass of Pinto Noir. One of their best customers was in, who loves to share his wine. Since I am really enjoying trying new wines, I decided to go for it. It was delicious! I’m finding that people who love wine really love to share their passion with others and I think that is so cool. And I was totally right in my feeling that I would probably enjoy reds and just wasn’t tasting the right ones yet.

Micro brews on tap and beer samplers at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine.My husband decided to go with a beer sampler. He listed off his preferences to Julia and she helped him pick 4 beers that he would enjoy. The staff here is well trained and are so helpful with navigating the beer and wines on the menu. One of his selections was a seasonal pumpkin ale, which at first he was unsure about, but ended up really liking it. This is absolutely one of those places that you and your husband or boyfriend would both be happy with. They have done an amazing job of being a well rounded bistro.

Fresh, warm French bread to eat with our amazing cheese plate. The chevre with rose preserves was amazing!  At Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine.Our cheese plate arrived and we enjoyed every single second of it. Because, cheese.  The presentation was pretty and it was the perfect way to start off our food adventure.  Something to know before you go, though, is that the kitchen is closed on Sundays. But cheese plates are always available.

Lobster and Chorizo Fondue! Delicious Brussels Sprouts! LOVED the food at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. And then the other dishes started coming out. When you see a Lobster and Chorizo Fondue on the menu, you just have to try it. And it was so good. Real good. Look at how the cheese is all crusty around the edges! And I’ve never met a Brussels Sprout I didn’t like. The ones on the Bistro menu were mixed with Chinese sausage, shishito peppers and fried garlic in a light sesame ponzu dressing. I think my husband got to taste these but I pretty much ate that whole plate by myself. And I’d do it again without hesitation.

Pork Belly Tacos at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine.And if I could hold hands with these Pork Belly Tacos, I totally would. The flavor was bold and smoky with a little tang from the kimchi salsa. This is one of those dishes that you immediately start thinking about how often you can get there to eat them. Like, I was trying to figure out if my kids could play out front while I ate them on the patio so I wouldn’t have to find a babysitter. That’s how amazing the flavor was. As if I hadn’t wanted to return before, these made me want to come back and try absolutely everything on the menu. The menu items are total comfort food but with a twist. They are not your run of the mill dishes but tweaked to make them interesting and memorable. And they nailed each and every one of them.

Then, when you find out the kitchen is about the size of your own tiny kitchen at home, you shake your head and marvel at how the chef puts out this amazing food.  The more we spoke with the staff, the more we fell in love with Bacchus. They are serious about running a great restaurant and are doing a fantastic job.

Butterscotch Pots de Creme! Yum! At Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. I barely had room for dessert but you don’t say no when there is a Butterscotch Pots de Creme on the menu. The menu has pairing suggestions but since I am pretty unfamiliar with port, I decided to stay closer to what I know I love. Julia suggested an albarino as something new to try (which I ended up taking a bottle of that home with me as well, it was the Marques de Caceres 2012 Albarino). The size of the dessert was perfect and it was just as creamy and dreamy as I hoped it would be.

The dessert pairing was SO good at Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine.And because Julia is super awesome, she brought out a little of the port for me to try alongside the pots de creme. It was magical. To smell the port on its own was like smelling gasoline. It was harsh on my nose and burned from the alcohol. But when sipped following a bite of the dessert, it brought out these amazing caramel tones and almost a burnt sugar flavor. Magnificent! I loved that she went out of her way to teach me something and it really showed just how great the bistro is at putting together a well thought out food and beverage program. We all have our preferences and the things we love. But sometimes we really just need to put our trust in the hands of the professionals to truly be wowed.

Come to Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine for a yummy meal and sample some wines, then take a bottle home with you. Bacchus was delightful in every way. I highly recommend you go and check it out for yourself. I was blown away by what they are able to do in that small space. Now, who wants to meet me there?  Head to their site to see the full menu and hours!

Bacchus Bar and Bistro

6735 Quail Hill Parkway

Irvine, CA 92603

www.bacchusbarandbistro.com

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Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum

Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum. If you’ve noticed, I’ve begun sharing my favorite local (Orange County, CA) spots every other Friday here on the blog. You may want to check out all my posts tagged Orange County, to see where else I have been!

Today I’m sharing about my first time at Brio, one of the new restaurants at The Irvine Spectrum. The Spectrum is like my second home. It is close by, has great shops and restaurants and fun stuff to keep the kids entertained. When I saw that some new restaurants were opening up I couldn’t wait to try them out. So when I won an Instagram contest run by the Spectrum which included dinner at Brio, I was pretty dang excited.

We got our hair done by My Blow LA at the Irvine Spectrum for Style Week OCThe contest was in conjunction with Style Week OC and included myself and my best friend getting our hair blown out at My Blow LA. It was so awesome to get a little pampering done. And I only had one minor heart attach when I realized they probably weren’t using a sulphate free shampoo which can cause a Keratin treatment to wear off sooner. And it was kind of funny to watch the gal try to curl my hair. Since the treatment pretty much straightens your hair, albeit pretty temporarily, it would not take the curl when she tried to use a curling iron. My hair basically laughed at it. We finally got some curl with the straightening iron technique though.

Styleweek OC at the Irvine Spectrum Center.Next we got to sit front row at the fashion show featuring clothes from some of the stores from the Spectrum. It was fun and I saw plenty of things I wanted to run off and buy.

Brio Tuscan Grilled at The Irvine Spectrum. And then it was time for Brio!! The restaurant seems HUGE. And it was quite loud. It seems like a great place to go when you have a large group of people who want to get together for dinner. I would have preferred it to be a little bit less noisy, but our visit was during peak hours on a Friday night so I can’t really complain.  They were running a wait, but since we had reservations, we were seated fairly quickly. You guys this, as well as the other new restaurant Del Frisco’s Grille, seem to be a hit. Both are always busy and they are great new additions to the mall (I’ll share about Del Frisco’s soon! Spoiler alert, I love it too!) The restaurant design is inspired by a Tuscan Villa and is warm and inviting. I can’t wait to dine out on their patio too. I love the fabric they chose for their outdoor chairs.

Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum.The Brio menu is not huge but has something for everyone. The menu is based on northern Italian cuisine and has tons of lighter options for those not looking to consume thousands of calories in one meal. But if you are looking for a super satisfying, hearty comfort food style dish, they have those too.  And their bread basket came with this crazy yummy flatbread that made my heart and my mouth happy.

Delicious bruschetta appetizer at Brio Tuscan Grille, Irvine Spectrum. We started off with the Bruschetta Quattro, featuring four different combinations, that was super tasty. We pretty much inhaled this and I would totally order this again.

Yummy dinner at Brio Tuscan Grille at the Irvine Spectrum.And for our main course, we decided to share two entrees. The kitchen split them up for us which was super nice of them and made it really easy to try two things that both sounded amazing. On the left is the Gorgonzola Crusted Beef Medallions served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. And on the right was the Sweet Potato and Chicken Risotto. Both dishes were fantastic! I would recommend both of them. But now I need to go back and try out some more things that stood out to me on the menu.

Dessert at Brio Tuscan Grille, Irvine Spectrum.To end our night, we tried out the Torta di Cioccolata, which is a warm chocolate cake served with vanilla bean gelato and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse. Both were crazy good.  I could have eaten about 2 gallons of the peanut butter mousse. The presentation of all the dishes was great and we enjoyed every part of our Brio experience.

Aside from the wonderful food, the staff and service were super friendly and accommodating. I’m absolutely looking forward to another visit.

I was not required to share my visit as part of the contest but I enjoyed everything so much that I wanted to. All opinions are my own and in my opinion, this place is great! Have you been yet?

Brio Tuscan Grille at The Irvine Spectrum 618 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine, CA  92618 .  phone (949) 341-0380

Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana Point

Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana PointCan’t stop, won’t stop. As you know, I recently worked on a series of posts with ZICO Coconut Water on creating and completing items off my ‘life list.’  It has been amazing. I’m trying new things and making changes to my life that are really letting me live more purposefully. One of the things I recently completed was trying out a Pilates class. I had always wanted to try out a class, using a reformer, so I reached out to my friend, Dottie of Reformer Fit Pilates in Dana Point and headed in for a class!  Located down by the marina, the location is gorgeous and it got my mind right as I headed in to my class. 

A reformer machine for pilates. Reformer machines look a little bit like torture devices.  I was pretty nervous. 

Pilates at Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana Point. Reformers work off of a series of springs that allow for various levels of resistance. Since I haven’t worked out in, like, forever, I hoped she would go easy on me. Pilates is designed to build strength and flexibility and is great for all types of people and fitness levels. She assured me I would be ok. 

Pilates class at Reformer Fit in Dana Point.We got started and Dottie walked me through some beginning stretches. I immediately knew that I would really like using the reformer. And I wouldn’t say that she went easy on me, but she recognized my limits but still had me push through. 

Trying out a reformer for my first time! It took a lot of focus and tightening and breathing. But I loved how it felt. It wasn’t long before I felt my muscles shaking…

My first pilates experience. Pilates is hard. Especially when you haven't worked out in years. Like here. Dottie had me doing leg circles.  Only my legs wouldn’t do it. So what you are seeing here is NOT good form. It is me dying. Muscles burning. And laughing because Dottie says, “five more!”

Private pilates lesson at Reformer Fit Pilates Studio in Dana Point.These cool pulleys and straps are used for arm and leg exercises and the exercises felt really good. You could feel your muscles working but there was no impact. I really fell in love with Pilates.

Plank on a pilates reformer.Until we did ab work. I watched Dottie do a plank first and wondered if I would be able to do it. I had visions of collapsing on to the reformer but I managed to do it! And then I managed to do the pike exercises where you use your ab muscles to draw the board back towards your feet, buns in the air. I was pleased with myself. 

I am so grateful that Dottie shared her gift with me and let me try out my first reformer class! I’m dying to start classes regularly! And thank you to Lauren for taking the photos!

Find out more about her studio: Reformer Fit – 24901 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Ste. A 110, Dana Point, CA  92629. (949) 614-3604. Email for more info info at reformerfit.com!

Organic Tree Juice in Dana Point. And when you are done, head right next door to Organic Tree Juice Bar. The staff is super awesome and, like the pilates studio, the space is bright and comfy. 

Organic Tree Juice in Dana Point. I tried the “Oz” green juice, with extra ginger, and it was awesome! I’m not a fan of most green juices, but I really enjoyed this one! Next time you are in Dana Point be sure to head here! I headed home with my juice feeling really great. And my muscles only stayed sore for a few days…

 

Fig and Olive Newport Beach

Fig and Olive is a fantastic restaurant in Newport Beach. // cupcakesandcutlery.com*This is not a sponsored post. Recently, while out and about in my fine county, I have been really wanting to share the amazing businesses with you.  So I’m going to be sharing local posts on Fridays. I mean, if someone wanted to give me a free meal, I wouldn’t say no, but you know I always disclose that to you.  Also these will mostly be iPhone photos as I don’t bring out my big camera when I am on a date, with my family, drinking or wearing high heels…

I had been hearing great things about Fig and Olive at Fashion Island, a luxurious mall in Newport Beach, CA and so for our anniversary, my husband and I decided to try it out. But let me stop really quickly right here for a minute.

On this night, so we both didn’t need to worry about driving, we used Uber.  Have you used it yet? I was SUPER skeptical of it. But I researched what it was all about and I stinking love it! Basically, it’s like getting a taxi but the drivers (fully vetted by Uber) drive their own cars. This keeps costs down for you. Also no money exchanges hands, and your payment info is hooked up to Uber, not the driver.  When any phone calls occur, it happens through a 3rd party number so no one is sharing personal info (or you can message the driver right through the app). And my fave part is that you can see the car and driver right on the app via GPS. You are on the grid at all times. I have used it 6 times now and it’s my new fave way to have a night out. We’ve never waited longer than 6 minutes for a car to arrive either and I have met some of the nicest people who happen to drive the cars!  If you have never used it, you can put in the code: SHARONG75 and your first trip is free up to $30. And just so you know, if you use that code, I get a free trip too.  Just wanted to share that with you.  It’s awesome!

But I digress…We headed out a smidge early for our reservation at Fig and Olive Newport Beach so we could get a drink at the bar.  The entire restaurant is designed perfectly.  The entire space is full of natural light and the decor is casual yet totally classy.  Their lounge and patio areas are simply stunning and the rest of the dining room doesn’t disappoint. The cocktail menu is craft cocktail heaven. The connoisseur would feel right at home with these beverages. It was really awesome to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic. I stuck with my glass of wine but my husband went with an Old Fashioned complete with a piece of lighter singed orange peel. For reals, I want to do this for every drink. The smell of fresh orange was unreal and added such a great flair to the drink.

The light is stunning in Fig and Olive, Newport Beach.  // cupcakesandcutlery.comThis photo doesn’t do the restaurant justice.  It’s glorious.  It’s modern, with a touch of a beachy vibe. It’s neutrals without feeling stark. 

Fig and Olive is a great date night spot in Orange County, CA // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd any menu that has risotto is automatically a star in my book.  The menu was large without being overwhelming and featured a fair amount of seafood.  The entire front page of the menu is starters with tons of options to share and really create an enjoyable dining experience.  We did a crostini sampler and it was EVERYTHING! Simple, quality ingredients on toasted bread. Does it get better than that? Yes, yes it does. 

Olive Oil tasting at Fig and Olive at Fashion Island Newport Beach // cupcakesandcutlery.comI had no idea that the premise around the restaurant was that they don’t use butter in their cooking, they instead use only olive oil.  Over the last few months I have really been interested in olive oils and the flavors they take on from the different regions they are grown in, much like wine. I was also in the midst of working on my own olive oil challenge so our visit to the restaurant couldn’t have come at a better time. Before the main courses are served, they bring bread and a trio of olive oils to the table so you can conduct a little tasting.  So cool. 

Delicious mushroom risotto at Fig and Olive Newport Beach // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd you KNOW I had to order the truffle risotto.  When I eat out, I like to order the things that I don’t want to make at home. And truffles…yes. Just yes.  And as expected, it was amazing.  My husband had the filet mignon and it looked sensational. I didn’t try it, you know, on account of stuffing my face with the risotto… Which also meant I was too full for dessert.  So I am pretty desperate to go back and fix that. You can tell a lot about a restaurant from their dessert menu and the one at Fig and Olive looks fantastic.

We loved the ambiance, the food and the service was top-notch! We will definitely be return customers and I can’t wait to take our friends back to try it.

Fig and Olive – Newport Beach

 

Blaze Pizza in Orange County

Blaze Pizza Irvine. www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy family and I don’t eat out very often. I really like to cook our meals at home for diet and budget reasons. And my husband’s work hours mean that if we had to wait for him to get home and then go out to dinner, we would eat way late. Like, I’d be extra cranky kind of late. But sometimes my boys and I just want to get out of the house. And I’m finding the more I try to watch what I eat, the more I want to eat pizza. One of our favorite places to get pizza is Blaze Pizza in Irvine. 

Blaze Pizza is a great family dining option in Irvine and other Orange County cities! www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIt’s sort of a chose-your-own-adventure in pizza making and you can hand-pick what you want to have on your pizza. This works perfect for my family since we all like something different. I prefer a BBQ chicken or something similar.  My husband likes the meats and usually any vegetable I don’t like. And my kids would never be able to finish one of these pizzas by themselves so it’s super awesome that Blaze will do half one type of pizza and half a totally different kind so they can split one. 

Love the branding of Blaze Pizza. www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m in love with the branding and design of the restaurants. The industrial look of the restaurants are still warm and inviting while be totally cool. And the orange is one of my favorite colors so…While I’m partial to the iced tea, my kids are totally in to the lemonade.

Fast fired pizza from Blaze Pizza Irvine. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI’ve tried several of the several of the Signature Pizzas (I adore you White Top) as well as created my own and they have all been absolutely scrumptious. There is something about the crust that I just love. It has a wonderful crunch while being tender and just the right thickness.  Mmmm, I wish they delivered… And if you have food allergies, they have a great, easy to use chart on their site to make your choices a little bit safer.

Blaze is set to open several more Orange County locations to add to the 3 already open in Mission Viejo, Irvine and La Habra. These restaurants are super kid friendly but I’d totally stop here for a casual date night as well. I’m a total dessert girl and that is the only thing that I think the restaurant could try to improve.  They do have a S’more Pie but when I go out to eat I want the dessert to wow me. Full disclosure, I have actually not tried the S’more pie yet. Looks like I’ll have to take another trip to Blaze to give it a try. ;)

Find out more about Blaze Pizza on their site!

*Blaze Pizza invited my family and I to try out one of their restaurants and provided us with dinner. All opinions are mine. And chances are if someone gives me pizza, it’s going to make me happy. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me full of pizza.