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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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