People watching and duck fat fries. Wildly fun combination…
Finding a good place to eat after 9 o’clock in Orange County (that isn’t fried and delivered via a drive-thru window) is as challenging as that old motto of finding a needle in a haystack. So imagine my surprise when I learned about the Crow Bar in Corona del Mar. I will begin by saying their sign reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Raven”; and once you step inside you (at least I) felt a slight undertone of literary breadth; even the menu seems a bit story-like. On initial arrival, I was greeted by a friendly Valet who gave me the rundown: “Burgers are great, sweet potato fries are awesome – I love those” – and then said the “food is unique and incredibly good so keep an open mind and ask about anything”. Once I stepped inside, I got a wisp of duck fat fries and I’m committed. I stand on the outer rim of a very crowded bar, put in my name, and then ask the hostess for some tips. She says, “there is a 45 minute wait OR these tables are first come first serve”, pointing to the high top tables just adjacent to the bar, and I become a stealthy food critic in no time. I patiently wait and look to notice the party of 5 seated at those precise tables is leaving. PERFECT. I ask them if I can put down my purse and they agree and in less than 10 minutes my guest and I are seated comfortably at the high top table. One may say a food critic on a mission.
Perusing the menu, over comes our server, Bri. I order a glass of their: tempranillo, rioja, spain ’06 bodegas lan ‘crianza’. (A mere $8 a glass or $15 for two) It is delicious and has a tinge of robust blended with a subtlety of berry. My guest orders paulaner hefeweizen. A smooth blend of German beer with hints of banana and citrus. The menu consists of incredible starters like house cured olives, local Carlsbad ‘luna’ oysters, organic risotto, and even grilled stuffed dates, while their dinner menu consists of a variety of crow burgers, pork n’ beans, and even local halibut served “chowder style”. Bri returns a few moments later and we order: Crow burger- medium, protein style and duck fat fries cooked in a truffle aioli – extra crispy. We sit and enjoy our drinks, the incredible ambiance of the crowd, laughing with the people next to us, while gaining some insight thanks to the Hostess. Then our food arrives and it not only looks heavenly, it smells fantastic! There are burgers and there are BURGERS. Crow Bar has created a truly extravagant burger and fries combo. The duck fat fries had so much taste without the often overwhelming influence of the truffle oil, it was more delectable than I anticipated. To top off the dinner, we went with something on the lighter side by ordering mint & belgian chocolate chip gelato and the blackberry cabernet sorbet. Both perfection, however I imagine on those “splurge” nights, their “not just a ding dong” is superb.
Crow Bar and Kitchen is also open for breakfast and brunch on the weekends, as well as lunch, dinner, and late nights every day of the week. It is the perfect spot to go to when you need to get out, eat great food, and indulge in a bit of people watching and conversation. The Crow Bar is something unique: it’s literary undertones are what drew me in and it’s service, quality, and menu selection are what kept me there. This is a fun place to go on any given day or night.
Written by Dawn Garcia