Sunday, May 07, 2006

Crescent City - Tustin

So there we were at Crescent City in Tustin, standing in the narrow pathway leading to the cashier, staring as if in a trance at their encyclopedic list of a menu -- which was printed on a laminated sign as tall as I was -- when a large, hulk of a man in loose-fitting black pants with white stripes strode in through the door past us. He was bald, save for some grey patches of stubble that peppered his chin and the rear of his scalp. With his thick jowl and eyes that looked like he just woke up from a restless nap, he could’ve been Abe Vigoda's doppelganger, except a decade or two younger and much better-fed.

Noticing that we were becoming dizzy at the countless possibilities of what to order for lunch, and still not any closer on deciding, this man stopped cold in front of us, turned to face me and said in a low rumble, "Whaddaya feel like? Steak?"

"Steak? Umm", I stammered, pausing as my brain tried to process who this stranger could be, and more importantly, why he cared about my lunch.

"I'm the chef," he quickly clarified, sensing my growing uneasiness at his curiosity.

Relieved and elated, I asked him with renewed enthusiasm, "What kind of steak? And how do you serve it?"

"It's strip steak, served in a sandwich with a salad or fries."

"Sounds great!" I said.

He nodded approvingly, and returned to the kitchen -- presumably to slap a steak onto the grill.

The cashier, overhearing the exchange, followed, "So that'll be a steak sandwich. What kind of bread?"

Not expecting that we had more decisions to make, we begrudgingly asked what our choices were. As she began reciting what was available, the chef interrupted, his voice booming from the kitchen -- "Have it with the croissant!"

"You heard the man,” I said, smiling at the cashier.

Later, while we waited for our steak sandwich to arrive, we noshed on the Popcorn Shrimp ($6.95) we had ordered as an appetizer. It came on a small hill of freshly fried, crispy fries. The shrimp, round and plump spheres the size of gumballs, made for pleasant palate teasers, each poppable, like deep-sea Bon-Bons.

Hidden within the crevasses of its crunchy battered crust, the succulent and slightly sweet morsels harbored the slow, latent burn of Louisiana hot sauce; the cumulative effect of which numbed our lips, giving us the sensation of being stung in the mouth by a chili pepper bee. Our only regret was that there were just enough of these ocean nuggets to tantalize, but too few of them to satisfy.

Thankfully, the skirt steak sandwich ($7.95) came just in time. The meat was beefy, bold -- flavored deeply from its crust to its still-pink center with red wine. Cut into fajita-sized strips and stuffed inside a buttery croissant, it was the star of the sandwich, supported by an eclectic cast of characters, which included sharp, crumbled bleu cheese, crunchy bits of chopped pecans, and spicy red onion. Was it typical of a New Orleans sandwich? No idea. But it was damned tasty, proving that sometimes it's okay to listen to a stranger, especially if he turns out to be the chef.

Crescent City
(714) 263-3111
2933 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92782

Note: To read my earlier review of Crescent City, click here.


At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elmo - Sounds like a good steak sandwich. I think it's important to have a (or several) decent sandwich places in your rotation.....

At 3:45 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


It ain't bad. I'd order it again in a minute. Some people might be put off by the bleu cheese and the sandwich's inherent sloppiness. It's one that I was better of eating with a fork.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Passionate Eater said...

Ha ha! I love the "novel-style" format of the post!! Very enjoyable read Elmo Monster! I was a little sad about not getting to feast my eyes on a picture of the skirt steak though.

I agree about your reaction too, you always have to be suspicious of people who try to interfere or voluntarily share their unsolicited opinions on what you'll be eating.

Also, it is very reassuring to read about the "hulkiness" of the chef. You know what they say, "Never trust a skinny chef," therefore, one should always trust a overweight chef! That means you should trust me!

At 12:04 AM, Blogger BoLA said...

Man oh man, do I know the feeling of numbed lips from spicy foods before, but would never EVER want to know "the sensation of being stung in the mouth by a chili pepper bee." LOL!

At 9:53 AM, Blogger melissac. said...

Steak sandwich WITH bleu cheese? I'll have to go! Somewhere inbetween the Noodle Station, either before or after Super Corokke reopens for business! I wish I had time to keep up with all the amazing eateries you discover in the OC, while I still eat fast food. In the meantime, you should check out some of the restaurant options available in the Orange Circle. Not many Asian eateries, but still good!

At 3:28 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for always leaving such nice comments! I'm kinda sorry I didn't have a better picture of the steak sandwich for you...unfortunately most of the meat was stuffed inside that croissant (the first picture) and before I knew it, it was in my stomach.

You're right about never trusting a skinny chef. Last time I was in New Orleans, I was in the very capable hands of Paul Prudhomme...who by that standard is the most trustworthy chef in the universe! And his etouffe? IN-CREDIBLE!!


Those "chili pepper bees" left a nice "buzz"! Pun intended! HAHAH!


It's a good sandwich indeed (even if it's a little unorthodox), but I don't think it is on the regular menu. It was the chef's special dish that afternoon -- seemed like something he whipped up at a moment's notice.

I've been meaning to get myself out to the the Orange Circle for a while...I need to try the Filling Station and others there!

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yum. Steak with Blue Cheese. Okay, another one for my next visit to OC. Sheesh. When you coming to Phoenix to try my recommendations?

Great review as always, elmo.


At 1:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest, the New Orleans fare at Crescent City is not very good at all!! I went about two months ago and was very turned off by both the Jambalaya and a prawn/shrimp dish. I think the prices for the Cajun fare are a little steep esp. with the quality given.
My favorite thing about the place was the beignets! That's hard to mess up though. You can definitely find much better New Orleans style food elsewhere in the OC.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


It's not a destination restaurant - more of a casual eatery than a sit down. So don't expect too much.

I'm just waiting for my company to send me out to Phoenix. Then I'll be going crazy, fast and furious on all your recs. Finally get me some of that gosh darned cheese crisp!


You got me. I really dislike their jambalaya also. But their beignets are good as are most of their deep fried entrees. And two years ago, (this review was my first trip back since), I remember their etouffee being remarkably better than Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. But I probably shouldn't vouch for its present state since I haven't had it lately.

But I'd be interested to know your suggestions for other Cajun places round here.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate your reviews of orange county establishments- not too many in this area. CC kind of gets a ho-hum from me; was there about six months ago and got their gumbo and some panini type sandwich- all kind of starchy and oily. We also got a dozen of their beignets- freshly cooked- I agree about the avalanche of powdered sugar, but on top of that, they were quite hard on the outside, and actually fairly sour, like they had used too much yeast or something... I would even say that the ones at Ralph Brennans are better. Hopefully it was just a bad day, but after that experience, I'm a little hesitant to go back.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yeah, I think I must have gotten lucky during my two lone visits to Crescent City, because it seems that more people disliked it than I would've expected. That or I must have been very hungry to notice if the quality was off those two times. I'll post back if my next visit is less than stellar. Actually, Brennan's in DD ain't so bad. At least their cheaper take-out counter...I don't think I'll try their sit-down side again.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything with Krazy and Blimpy in the name has my vote. Plus, that close up fried shot was crazy. Right up my alley! Now you've made me seriously hungry.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Krazy Jim's is definitely one of those places in Ann Arbor that warrants a visit for anyone who might find themselves there on business, school, or otherwise.


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