Lawry's Carvery - Costa Mesa
Ah, South Coast Plaza: The mall that's too classy for a food court; where The Devil wears Prada, but doesn't eat Hot Dog on A Stick. Instead it's got some of Orange County's best fine dining options. Namely, there's Marche Moderne and Hamamori, because what's a few more Benjamins on lunch when you've already spent your entire stimulus check on a pair of shoes.
But where does Anne Hathaway go for a bite? (The character she plays in the movie, not the actress)
Well, there's Macy's Signature Kitchen, the closest thing the mall has to a food court. Or Nordstroms Cafe. Perhaps that dependable chain, Corner Bakery. But arguably the most popular eatery at SCP is Lawry's Carvery, a quick service version of the full-blown prime rib restaurant you might have driven past in Beverly Hills.
Here Ms. Hathaway can sink her horse-like chompers on a slab of meat without so much as a waiter bringing it to her. The prime rib plate -- $15.99 for a 6-ouncer -- includes a thimble of searing horseradish, one side and coleslaw. And unlike Cat Cora's BBQ platters, it actually fills you up, especially if you choose the rich cheddar and parmesan-encrusted mac and cheese, which employs penne pasta instead of the elbow-shaped stuff from the blue box.
I usually get the brisket for $12.99. Slices of beef, cut across the grain so that it's always tender, fanned out on the plate and smothered in maybe a bit too much of their BBQ sauce. The best part are the crispy wisps of onion straws that's actually more like a third side item than garnish.
The roast beef dip sandwich isn't as tender or elegant as Houston's (The Best French Dip in History) or decadently wet and nostalgic as Philippe's (The First French Dip According to History), but it's serviceable and packed with plenty of hulking pieces for the $8.99 price tag. Instead of dipping, I skip the niceties and douse both slices of bread with the jus, being careful not to drench or dampen the crunchy homemade chips that it comes with.
It's plenty of food for long-suffering assistants of megalomaniacs. Of course, in this economy, it's more likely that she'll opt for Del Taco (also available, next to Sears).
3333 Bristol St # 2601
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Villa Roma - Laguna Hills
*This post is dedicated to the memory of Celina, the mother of my friend and location scout Cecile.