I had the privilege of being welcomed to Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine, California. This small eatery is tucked away and nestled among other restaurants in a shopping center off Quail Hill Parkway. Just outside the front doors, to the right, there is a small patio area with lush vegetation. On a gorgeous day (almost always, right?!), you’ll LOVE to sit out there, sipping on your favorite Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, enjoying the serene environment.
As you walk inside, you’ll notice the abundance of wood furnishings. Wine racks covered the walls throughout the restaurant. Gorgeous wooden box panels covered part of a wall in a mosaic pattern (at the end of the bar). The lighting was dim but not too dark. The music level was comfortable; not too loud or too low.
After speaking with Deb, I came to understand their brief history. Originally opened about five years ago, Bacchus was a wine bar and retail store. The interior decor was reminiscent of Caesar’s Palace. But once the new owners took over about four years ago, they closed their doors to renovate. When they reopened, they had a functioning kitchen from which their guests were offered a variety of different artisan cheeses and charcuterie items.
Fun fact: their kitchen is small and they do not have a walk-in cooler. They also cook using induction burners! As a chef and a lover of all things cookery, I am amazed at the ability to provide delicious food without the use of an open flame. (I wanted to take a tour but was unable to on this visit.) Chef Charity produces everything on the menu from scratch as well! Impressive feat indeed!
I started my experience taking a seat at a low square table close to the bar. The chairs were very comfortable. The bartender, Brad, introduced himself and explained the process at Bacchus. Their intensive wine and beer list is displayed in a gorgeous menu “book” (see photo above). I ordered a glass of Widmer Hefewiezen on tap. Served ice cold – it was refreshing! Later on during my dining experience, Brad offered me a sample of a new stout of theirs. Humboldt Black Xantus Stout. A very dark beer but it wasn’t too ‘heavy’. I was bit skeptical at first but was pleasantly surprised once the cold liquid touched my tongue. The stout had a subtle hint of coffee – and who doesn’t love coffee?!
Next, I ordered a cheese board. I selected the following cheeses: Chevre’ with Rose Preserves (goat, France); Old Dutch Master Gouda (cow, Holland); Corazon de Ronda Manchego (cow, Spain).
From left to right, Gouda, Chevre’, and Manchego. The gouda was semi-firm and creamy. I absolutely loved this cheese. The Chevre’ (goat cheese) was soft and sweet, as expected. The Manchego was also semi-firm and savory. I really enjoyed the warm toasted sliced bread that was served with this cheese board. The outside was crunchy and toasty but the inside was warm and soft. What a great start!
Up next was their Korean Sweet Bun.
Glazed pork belly with kimchi pickle, cabbage, sweet soy, sriracha. I wasn’t sure how to eat this majestic appetizer. I ended up using my fork and knife. The bread was dense and sweet. The glazed pork belly was tender and savory. The kimchi and sriracha were spicy. All of these flavors fused together with each bite to send my taste buds into oblivion.
My next selection was Warm Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
This dish was ‘different’. It contained Chinese sausage, shishito peppers, fried garlic, and sesame ponzu. The sprouts were thinly sliced. The Chinese sausage was somewhat sweet. The overall taste was earthy and savory. It was a bit dry – perhaps a sauce or glaze served on the side could help liven up this dish. Don’t take this the wrong way – this dish was tasteful. But if I were to make one suggestion – it would be to add a sauce/glaze. Or maybe another colorful vegetable? I am glad I ordered this dish because I’ve been told that it is one of the more popular items on the menu.
For my final choice, I selected their Cardamon Cheesecake.
This right here left me speechless! Baked in a small glass jar, this cheesecake boasted a thick pistachio crust at the bottom. The cheesecake itself had a delicate taste of cardamon and topped with rose petal preserves. To finish it off, homemade whip cream and chopped pistachios! I savored each spoonful as I continued to scrape as much as I could from the jar. So tasty! According to Deb, their Butterscotch Pot de Creme is their signature dessert. Next time, I’ll be ordering that!
From the outward appearance, Bacchus appears to be one of those “hole in the wall” places in a strip mall. But once you enter, you are taken away into another world. From the elegant design of the bar to the tables and Mediterranean charm, Bacchus is sure to delight your senses – and palette! Absolutely the perfect place for a first date – or an intimate night out. They have live music on Friday nights as well as other happenings throughout the week.
Check out their website:
And let them know I sent ya!
Until next time…#ForkThisPlate