TASTE OF THE OUTLETS AT ORANGE CULINARY EVENT
20 City Boulevard West, Orange, CA 92868
(Getting there was not half of the fun; although being there was very fun)
By Kay Schroeder
Orange,CA(Spiritsman)5/29/16/–Due to the event start time of 6:00 p.m., to say that we were in rush hour traffic would be a serious misnomer; the freeway traffic moved at a snail’s pace. However, Thursday, May 26 proved to be an especially fun evening complete with exotic cocktails, tapas to die for, and everyone’s favorite alfresco dessert, Smores!
To help kickoff the 2016 Taste of the Outlets at Orange, media and invited guests were treated to a tour of the expansive OAO shopping center and a progressive dinner that included three restaurant stops.
The OAO is interesting and somewhat unusual in that it is comprised of numerous restaurants, many outlet-type stores, and several upscale stores, including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Although not unique, this combination of stores is not common.
Our first stop was at Dave & Buster’s for cocktails. And, what amazing cocktails they were! At the banquet-sized, black granite table reserved for our party, we sat in D&B’s (vibrating with energy) sports bar where our ebullient mixologist, J.R. served up “over the top drinks”. The exuberant J.R. also took the time to engage in friendly banter with our media members.
Here’s Our Dave & Buster Awesome Mixologist, J.R.
The first drink to be presented was a Glow Kone. This icy/slushy, tropical mixture glowed in intermittent colors of red, blue, purple, yellow and green, as gossamer, wispy tendrils of smoke wafted into the air, and just as quickly disappeared.
Next up was the Hawaiian Mai Tai served in a tiki-inspired glass. This Mai Tai differed from the traditional in that, while it was oh so good, it was not overly sweet.
Hawaiian Mai Tai
Tequila made its debut in the Luxe Patron Silver Supreme. Presentation of this gorgeous red drink won my vote. Rimmed with crushed red salt (reminiscent of Swarovski crystals), the crowning jewel was the glass stir stick that was topped with a tiny glass replica of the trademarked Patron bottle. How cool is that? I don’t know how that stir stick got into my purse, oh well.
Luxe Patron Silver Supreme
New Amsterdam Malibu Coconut Rum, lemonade, and strawberry puree yielded coolness with just the right amount of fruity sweetness in the refreshing Miami Ice Snow Cone.
The always-elegant Champagne was deliciously eclipsed by Lunetta, the interesting, modern twist of placing a bottle of Prosecco Sparkling Wine upside down into a glass filled with a concoction of blackberry liquor, shaved ice, and some “unidentified” secret ingredient. The imbiber was able to control how much of the sparkling wine vs. blackberry liquor he or she consumed by the depth that the straw was placed into the glass. What a powerful feeling of control!
At 7:00 p.m. it was time to make the short walk to our second stop, Café Tu Tu Tango. Founded in1991, and a little of an anomaly, this restaurant can’t be described in the typical manner, e.g., seafood, continental, family, or a myriad of other descriptions. Tu Tu Tango started its first life as a tapas bar restaurant. As the restaurant grew and American tastes called for additional menu items like hamburgers, steaks, and seafood, the owners gave the customers what they wanted. They added these items plus a number of additional innovative dishes. Judging by the clientele’s loyalty and enthusiasm, the owners made the right decision.
Several other things make this restaurant different from others, such as the variety of art that local artists are encouraged to display on the restaurant walls. Diners have the pleasure of looking at the art as they wander through the place. Paintings are available for purchase through the restaurant and prices appeared to be very reasonable.
Another large draw to this restaurant is the spontaneous entertainment that is apt to erupt any time during your meal. Entertainment may include opera singers, tango dancers, or interpretive dancers. Because puppeteers and magicians are a huge hit with the children (as well as the adults), they perform regularly at the Café.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were offered sangria, either white wine sangria or red wine sangria.
Red Wine Sangria
And now for the drum roll, the tapas are unbelievable. The best-ever empanadas are made fresh daily and are accompanied by a beautifully seasoned, mild sour cream sauce. Several varieties of thin crust pizzas are offered. The generous sized chicken-filled wraps are bursting with the flavor of tender, julienned vegetables, served with a savory sauce. The beef filled pastries are as tantalizing visually as they are tasty.
Wood Fired Pizza Oven, Thin Crust Pizzas
Empanadas, made fresh daily
Empanada, up close and personal
Chicken and Veggies Wrap
Lastly, the wonderful experience at Café Tu Tu Tango is due largely to manager, Kevin Hall. His warm, heat-felt storytelling of the history of the family, and the restaurant’s beginning and evolution, made an impression on everyone in our party. His joy and enthusiasm were infectious.
Café Tu Tu Tango is open Monday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m., Friday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m., and Sunday 11:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 3:00-6:30 p.m., Sunday-Thursday 10:00 p.m.-Close
Although we hated to leave, we made the short walk to our last stop, Saddle Ranch Chop House for Smores … and bull riding? We asked to be seated outdoors so that we could enjoy the beautiful, California evening, and where else than the patio with the fire pits could we roast the essential ingredient for Smores, the marshmallow?
By the time we arrived, all of the preparations for making Smores had been completed. All we had to do was sit down and get on with the business of making Smores.
All set up and ready to go Flaming Marshmallow Chocolate Smores
Glowing Red, Flaming Yellow, and Burned Black – Smores Done Just Right!
A while later, a raucous call from the bar drew us inside and down to the corral that housed a mechanical bull, ready for action. One intrepid sole cow-girled-down and volunteered to try her hand at the daunting task of riding that behemoth. Shortly after mounting the bull, the switch was thrown and the bull started his wild gyrations. Gina, the rider managed to stay on that bovine tornado for (what must have seemed like an eternity to her), a whopping 20 seconds. Kudos to Gina Rucciona. Gina is food and restaurant writer with a blog following of 63,000 readers.
I guess a cowgirl’s just gotta do what a cowgirl’s gotta do.
Founded in 1999, Saddle Ranch Chop House is open 365 days a year, 7 days a week, Monday-Thursday 11:00 a.m.-12:30 a.m., Friday 11:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m., Sunday 9:00 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Thanks to the Outlets at Orange Marketing Team for their dedication and hard work in making the 2016 Taste of the Outlets at Orange Culinary Event a fun-filled success.
Restaurant, Product, and Services Review Writer, Kay Schroeder “Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”
Tom Wright: Photography
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211