When modern sleek meets rustic elegance, that’s where the crowd gathers to mingle and have a drink or two. At 4:30 pm on a Wednesday, the bar at Charlie Palmer is already packed with people unwinding for the day.
Upon entering the restaurant, I almost rudely ignore the hostess when she greets me as I become entranced with an impressive wall collection of wine. The flooring of the restaurant is crafted from reclaimed wine barrels and furnished with vintage leather chair coverings, with accents of warm-colored walls and decor. It’s an ambiance I like to call rustic elegance, when old and vintage become new and refined. The minimalistic white glass exterior of the restaurant creates a feeling of modern sleek, perhaps a complementary balance to the interior.
As I walk into the bar area, I see the ever friendly and outgoing Kim chatting away with some guests because well, that is what one does when you’re a regular at the local hot spot, isn’t it? She introduces me to another regular Bobby Navarro, a local foodie who took on the challenge of eating at 100 eateries in 100 consecutive days. And I was also pleased to meet a couple more of Kim’s friends, Nancy and Lewis. Surely, Charlie Palmer is the popular place for the tasteful diners, foodies and hipsters alike.
Kim invited me as a guest of Travel Costa Mesa to experience one of Charlie Palmer’s cooking demonstration events. While waiting for the class to start, we enjoyed some happy hour time and ordered a couple drinks and appetizers to try. (Click here to read the follow-up post on the cooking class.)
(Left) Blood Orange Mojito made with Bacardi rum, lime, blood orange and mint. (Right) A virgin Agua Fresca for me made with clementine juice and cilantro. Not only tasty to drink, but also absolutely gorgeous to look at.
Crispy rock shrimp with yuzu mayo and wasabi tobiko.
Light and crispy three cheese risotto cakes and shishito peppers with saffron aioli.
The entrance to the restaurant with an impressive wall collection of wine.
The Charlie Palmer wine collection.
A lively crowd in the bar lounge area.
An ambiance of rustic elegance in the main dining room.
Disclosure: I was an invited guest of Travel Costa Mesa, but all opinions are my own.