Grizzly cub, Snow

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Orchid Bar, Grand Tradition

Leslie and I were graciously invited to attend one of the soft opening nights at the new Orchid Bar at Fallbrook's Grand Tradition. I believe that the new restaurant/bar is set to officially open this week.

I am happy to report that as critical a curmudgeon as I am known to be, both the food and libations at the Orchid Bar were wonderful during our visits.

The Grand Tradition, which is known far and wide as a superlative wedding venue and for its wonderful gardens, has been serving lunch in its dining room for some time, by reservation only. I must confess that I have never gone there for lunch but I have eaten some special event wine pairing dinners there that were fun.

I believe that they decided to create the Orchid Bar area in order to create some business for some of the first of the week "off nights." At least initially it is my understanding that they will only be open on wednesday evenings. Lunch is still served in the regular dining room every day, by reservation only.The nice young voice on the phone said no reservations for the Orchid Bar, walk-ins invited 5 to 9 p.m..

This is going to be a very nice and pleasant place to hang out and have a drink and a casual nosh with your friends.

We were originally invited to visit last wednesday but I thought that I had other commitments so we went earlier, on the beautiful people, perfect body, very short skirt night the week before. I think that they were trying out test demographics and I was first slotted as old and fat. Cool. I can hang with that. Cultured, round and silver tipped, lets call it.

I don't have a menu in front of me so this is from memory, off the cuff, but we started our evening with duck quesadillas with a really delightful smoky sauce.

Longtime readers know that I am a freak for duck and these were very delicious.

Leslie ordered a ginger beer based spirit called coyote on the rocks and I tried a De Luz area cabernet which was surprisingly delicious. De Santi or something like that. Would order it again in a heartbeat.

Temecula area reds have long been sniffed at by the cognoscenti, the nose of the appellation often being typified as tasting like "dirt." Or mineral, what ever? De Luz reds, perhaps because of the cool mountain downdrafts, seem to have escaped the nasty effects of the inland empire terroir.

We followed the duck with a first class charcuterie plate - sun dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, delightful cheeses, including both blue and goat, prosciutto and salamis. I can't see how they can put this tray out for the price frankly. It was filling and fantastic.

Leslie opted for an Avo Maria, a signature beverage that features Fallbrook's first fruit, the avocado, along with tequila, cointreau and lime. She was crazy about it.

It was your basic, perfect summer night and we saw a whole bunch of friends. Dave and Robin were sitting next to us and I hope that one day I can hear them play music there. Faro Trupiano showed up and seemed to have a great time chilling and working the room.

By the way, the music is one thing that will be slightly problematic dialing in, with the wide demographic range of the clientele. We were treated to some thumping disco/club base notes and I think you have to be of a certain age of which I am definitely not to appreciate it.

Did I mention that the food and drinks were all gratis for us test subjects? They were and it was very kind of our hosts. I was starting to feel a little guilty the first night, didn't want to be a glutton but Leslie said, "Hey, they need to know," while ordering one of the best shrimp cocktails I have ever sampled. What a trooper she is!

The shrimp was gigantic and fresh and the remoulade/cocktail type sauce was perfect. Accompanied by a nice little corn mango chutney number.

The owner's son Mark was apparently the brains and vision of the Orchid Bar and he and his beautiful wife engaged in some rigorous hard time at trendy Las Vegas clubs and eateries distilling his own conception. Now that is a job I want!  But he has truly done a great job here. First class.

I sat with the McDougals and talked about some of my observations and offered to come back another night and take some pictures of the food. I sense that they figured out what I was up to but were gracious enough to accept my offer anyway and even invited Leslie to accompany me once again.

I knew everybody that second night, one of four test sittings that they held. Most of us had our AARP cards this night.

People bopped around, all seemingly and literally old friends and we had a marvelous evening.  I know what you are thinking, Robert hasn't written in months and now he is waxing prosaically about an appetizer tray. Can he really be bought for the price of a free shrimp cocktail? The answer of course, is yes, absolutely he can.

Beef sliders

Mahi mahi tacos

When pigs fly, I give you "hog wings…"


The place really feels tropical. We had the same great table with a waterfall behind us both nights, my wife's favorite spot.

I met the long time flower vendors for the Grand Tradition. Apparently they are one of only five officially designated Preferred Gardens in the whole United States. When you visit you will see why.

I believe that the McDougals have secured two first class chefs for this undertaking and it shows. I look forward to seeing you there when it opens. Thank you Don and Alyson for the kind invitation. I am really very impressed. I think that the Orchid bar is going to become a great habit for many of us Fallbrookians. Great food, drinks, beautiful atmosphere at very reasonable prices.

Some people take forever to decide.


North County Film Club said...

Only open Wednesdays! We'll probably be there, though, after this glowing review.
The only reason we've never been to the restaurant is because it's "reservation only" and we can never seem to plan anything in advance.

Anonymous said...

Shit I never get invited to the fetes with the swank upscale side of Fallbrook looks very cool.
Deli guy.

Anonymous said...

shit i never get invited to shit...poor me..didn't know the Blast was back...cool beans....luv 2 alles...."g"

Anonymous said...

Looks great.
Cannot wait to go when it opens.
Did I understand you got invited there twice?

Blue Heron said...

Well the second time I sort of invited myself.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

This really looks interesting. You wrote a great review. Is there thumping music every Wednesday or just for the opening? The sound pollution eliminates me and most of my friends as potential customers. I can't stand having to shout over noise or straining to hear no matter how great the venue and no matter how good the food.

Blue Heron said...

We shall see. It wasn't necessarily that loud, just ever present.