Chat Noir - Costa Mesa
We arrived at around 7 pm last night, parking in the structure behind TGI Fridays, so we had short walk to Chat Noir.
As soon as we stepped in, we noticed the red velvet, and the dark motif. Very Moulin Rouge, but not as in-your-face as the movie. Sultry and seductive as the decor was, we were there for the food. We flew past the bar (we don't drink alcohol of any kind) and into our booth for two. The crowd consisted of a few groups of men in business suits. I overheard talk about "action plans" and "revenue targets" from the other tables. Obviously, people on expense accounts. Otherwise, it wasn't a busy night.
Our waiter, a polite middle-aged gentleman recited the night's specials. Salmon with risotto and beurre blanc. They brought out a wire basket with warm rolls while we decided what we wanted. The rolls were actually just small versions of not-overly-crusty French baguettes. A ramekin of butter with a paper cover imprinted with a cat's paw came along with the bread.
My girlfriend decided on the salmon special ($30.00). I opted for the seared scallops ($28.00). After a short while, a young gentleman server came out with our dishes. It was at this point that I informed this man that we intended to order the souffle for dessert. As you hounds already know, if you want souffle at a restaurant, better order it ahead of time or else be prepared to wait. The man smiled and took our order for the souffle. Is it chocolate, I inquired? "Oh yes," he said. "Chocolate souffle, with a Grand Marnier creme fraiche and melted Belgian chocolate sauce."
I started on my scallop dish. It was awesome. I had four fat scallops, nicely caramelized crust, served on top of creamy risotto. The risotto was prepared right, with bits of cruncy asparagus mixed with the rice. There were also little jewels of oven-dried tomatoes which straddled the edge of the plate. The tartness of these tomatoes nicely undercut the creamy richness of the risotto and complemented the delicate brininess of the scallop. There were also thin baby zucchini on the plate. These were done perfectly, not too raw, and not too mushy. A nice bite of freshness. The sauce that brought all of these components together was stupendous. I don't know what it was called, but I wiped the plate clean with a piece of bread, getting every last bit of the sauce.
My girlfriend's salmon was also good. It was cooked to her specification. Well done. It also came with risotto, although when I went in for a taste, I detected an uncooked grain of rice or two. But she loved the dish. For her vegetable component, it was thin haricot verts, still crispy and vibrant.
The dessert came shortly after our entree plates were taken away. The original waiter who greeted us brought the bulbous souffle ($12.00) to our table. He then took a spoon and cut out a well in the middle of the cake. Then he mashed it down with the spoon. A couple of dollops of the creme fraiche went down, followed by a drizzle of the chocolate sauce. I think "a drizzle" is understating it. It was more like a deluge. Okay, I thought. This was not what I am used to. Usually at places, they would just serve the souffle as is and allow us to judge how much or as little of the cream and sauce we'd like to put in. We'd do it ourselves. Upon tasting the now overflowing souffle, I was a little disappointed and decreed that from now on, I am going to forgo the theatrics of the souffle assembly presentation. Souffle should be unadulterated by any pouring of chocolate sauce, especially if done by anyone other than yourself.
The delicate texture of the souffle was totally overwhelmed by that sauce. We scooped up globs of the soggy cake, which was had the consistency of bread pudding. It was a bit of a let-down from the pleasure of the entrees. There was no way we could tell how well the souffle was done. How airy was it? No idea. I tasted nothing but chocolate sauce.
Oh well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad. We still agreed that it was a great experience. Good atmosphere, great food, attentive service. The total with tip was $87.00.
BTW, the parking structure seems to charge eventhough Chat Noir validated our parking ticket. We ended up paying for a remaining balance of $6. So if you are going there on a date night, you probably might as well, do the valet.
655 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
NOTE: Chat Noir is now Savannah.
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