I’ve been a big fan of Hillstone Group restaurants – Houstons, Bandera, Gulfstream have all ranked fairly high in my book. So when my friend suggested that we go to R+D Kitchen in Fashion Island for dinner, I was definitely intrigued.
Having just relocated back to Orange County this past spring, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see the new crop of restaurants popping up all over the place. Instead of the generic chain restaurants (which some are actually quite delicious mind you), I’ve been seeing more “concept” type restaurants, something that I couldn’t get enough of living in Los Angeles. The concept behind R+D is to “offer crisp and flavorful cuisine in an indoor-outdoor space.” Was the cuisine crisp and flavorful? You betcha. And the indoor-outdoor concept in a place like Fashion Island is perfect.
We started our meal with a glass of wine – I had the Hill Family Merlot which was smooth and delicious (I’ve been on a Merlot kick lately, especially since it hasn’t been super hot out lately). For entrees, I was initially eyeing the Veggie Burger until the waitress kindly informed me that the burger contained soy sauce. Of course, soy is one of the many things I am allergic to so I had to pass. But I immediately gave R+D bonus points for knowing EXACTLY what was in each of their dishes when I brought up my allergy concerns. That my friends, is a sign of a restaurant on top of their game. This also confrmed to me that the restaurant was making all of their food fresh in house, and not loading it with artificial preservatives and ingredients. Just by reading the menu I could tell that most of the dishes were made with just simple, NATURAL ingredients.
I settled on the Roast Chicken with mashed potatoes (substituting out the tabbouleh because of the corn in it) and my friend had the Pan Fried Fish with spinach and mashed potatoes. Both dishes were light and flavorful, and the mashed potatoes were melt in your mouth creamy. We both devoured our dinners so fast that I forgot to take pictures, which was unfortunate.
While the Chocolate Pot de Creme looked awfully tempting to order for dessert, we decided we were just a bit too full from our dinners to indulge. Oh well, there’s always next time.
One of the other things I love about R+D Kitchen besides their food allergy awareness and indoor-outdoor space is that they are constantly changing the menu to use seasonal ingredients. I’ve always felt that eating fruits and vegetables in season was a million times better than eating stuff out of season, and I’m glad to see that R+D Kitchen plans on keeping their menu fresh. Plus, it keeps you coming back to see what’s next!
Some other dishes that looked enticing were the Cheeseburger on a homemade bun (with the fresh cut french fries I was eyeing), the Mediterranean Seared Tuna Salad with avocado and goat cheese, and the Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti. Looks like I’m going to have to make a trip back to R+D Kitchen soon!
But don’t just take my word for it – try it yourself. And be sure to order the Chocolate Pot de Creme for dessert.
555 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660