The last time I had a meal at restaurant, I might have been 5 years old, maybe 6. It was one of my family's favorites, or as I called them back, then "old people."
I remember the dark rooms and sophisticated food that I couldn't pronounce. Where were the chicken fingers and mac 'n'cheese? This place was definitely not Chuck E. Cheese's.
Now, I am ... you almost got me (like I was going to reveal my age). But let's just say I can safely fill out the survey that says 25-35 years. My tastes have evolved to the point that I'm willing to try things that might baffle Anthony Bourdain. I'm a foodie and was looking forward to trying the new menu from Lawry's fourth-generation family member, Executive Chef Ryan O'Melveny Wilson of the newly re-opened Five Crowns.
Right away I notice the service. My server Ben was a young, cool guy with a relaxed attitude and carefree spirit. He was knowledgeable about every menu item and enthusiastically shared the details with me. His sidekick, or sous server, was Tony, equally delightful and attentive. Summation: I liked the change from elegant prim and proper servers to approachable, young, happy servers whom I might like to friend on Facebook. Not that I would—that would be weird—but they are definitely friend-request worthy.
Choosing dinner from the menu was like trying to pick out the most fabulous pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. I wanted everything. It took me 20 minutes just to decide. Was I to play it safe with their classic and famous prime rib served with Yorkshire pudding, whipped cream organic horseradish and a choice of creamed corn, spinach or mashed potatoes? Or, go deep sea diving and try the broiled California halibut with chamomile butter and celery root gratin? I always order risotto wherever I go and their morel risotto with wild ramps and Parmigiano-Reggiano looked splendid.
I finally took Ben's advice and went with the grilled veal skirt steak—a plate of veal medallions sprinkled with a generous layer of freshly grated Parmesan cheese with an artichoke and mushroom hash. Cooked medium rare to perfection, I couldn't get enough. This came after my appetizer, which was an artichoke tarte tartin—a perfect circle of artichoke hearts with a large dollop of whipped goat cheese and a side frisee salad. I didn't want this meal to end.
And it didn't. I ordered Stilcheddar Macaroni & Cheese. Yes! My childhood desire to eat macaroni and cheese at Five Crowns restaurant was finally fulfilled (still working on the chicken fingers, hint, hint Chef Wilson). The macaroni and cheese was bubbling in an oval casserole dish, creamy and so cheesy. I'm pretty sure they serve this dish in Heaven. If not, I need a word with God's executive chef.
I could barely expand my stomach enough to try dessert, but they have a hot fudge sundae on the menu. I do have a sophisticated palate, but these simple Americana foods call to me. The hot fudge sundae is made with Tahitian vanilla ice cream from Dr. Bob's. A local man, he handcrafts any ice cream flavor special for the Five Crowns. What's even better than the ice cream? The hot fudge served in a mini glass pourer on the side. C.C. Brown's Hot Fudge is owned by the Lawry family and was the first hot fudge invented. I was actually eating a part of history. And points for Five Crowns for serving the hot fudge sundae in a cereal type bowl. It makes it so much easier to share, rather than getting your knuckles creamy while diving your spoon to the bottom of a fountain glass.
The wine list is also a sight for sore eyes. Their wines come from all parts of the world, including the Spanish Rioja that I enjoyed. I also had to try their Pimms cocktail because I was homesick for England, where I spent most of last summer. I told Lucas, another attendant who kept my water glass full, to please tell the bartender this was the best Pimms I ever had—including the ones served in England.
While I was finishing up my Pimms and relaxing my I-definitely-need-to-go-to-Pilates-tomorrow belly, I took in the new decor. It was much brighter. Even though I was dining in the evening, the new lighting design and softer interiors gave the restaurant a daytime ambiance. I noticed new decorative light fixtures with custom artisan glass. The fresh decor complements the new lighter and modern menu without sacrificing the English charm of the original Five Crowns.
I had a very pleasant experience at . I felt as if I got older and the Five Crowns got younger. Its fresh and youthful approach to service, simple, but tasty menu options and reasonable prices made this restaurant a place I will be Facebook-checking into more often.
will celebrate its grand re-opening May 19th. Reservations are strongly recommended. Call (949)760-0331 or opentable.com. Five Crowns is located at 3801 East Coast Highway.