Tucked away along side the picturesque views of Pacific Coast Highway lies a tried-and-true gem – Five Crowns. Since 1965 this British inspired restaurant has remained a staple in Corona Del Mar, enchanting guests with culinary classics, impeccable customer service and an exclusive wine program. After a recent renovation, Chef Steve Kling and culinary team have revolutionized the menu while paying homage to the beloved classics. The avant-garde menu features a creative array of small plates, main dishes and desserts. Mixologist Amber Billiard has worked her magic on the craft cocktail menu by incorporating house made syrups and sustainable ingredients to all of her concoctions.
“My grandparents love that place.”
“I had my prom there.”
Long-time Orange County residents may understand why some may hold the above sentiments. Five Crowns has been around for 50 years, and in that time has developed a tightly-knit relationship with the community. While some may be amazed at the landmark reaching its semi-centennial anniversary, its survival is the result of anything but luck. From captivating dishes to excellent service, this restaurant penchant for relentless self improvement is what makes this gem so renown.
We entered through the Side Door (Five Crowns’ gastropub concept – but also literally a side door), and found ourselves instantly transported to a Tolkien-esque british pub that’s reminiscent of the Green Dragon Inn. The comfy padded booths, elongated oak tables, and a luminous greenhouse ensure you feel right at home. Without hesitation we were greeted, seated, and served with gusto. Our table was located adjacent to the patio, in a recently renovated portion of the building. The open feeling provided by the glass-enclosed pavilion sparked up a thought: I need to come back here for brunch!
Our server (a veteran of the restaurant for several decades) didn’t miss a beat in providing recommendations on wine and cocktails to pair with our dishes. Her skill set was evident, as every recommendation hit the mark. From cocktails and appetizers, through salads and entrees, to desserts and night-caps, the service leaves nothing to be desired.
Fruits del Mar
Smoked Trout Dip, Pickled Shallots, Crostini
The subtle smoke characteristics of this exquisitely prepared appetizer pair beautifully with the crisp refreshing nature of the aforementioned gimlet. With a consistency characteristic of a rillette, this hearty dip is a truly modern take on a classic dish. The acidity of the pickled shallots provides a sharp contrast to the trout dip, and the toast points will make you consider ordering a second one. Whether you’re a seasoned patron of Five Crowns, or a first-timer, this dish is sure to please.
Paired with Garden of Eden Gimlet
Prairie Cucumber Vodka, Lavender Honey Syrup, Lime + Absinthe
Mixologist Amber Billiard crafted a refreshing cocktail that captures the essence of Springtime, both seasonally and creatively. Aromatic herbaceous notes of lavender linger on the nose, while acidity from the lime and residual sweetness from honey dominate the glass.
Crab and Avocado Mash, Lime Dressing, Pita Chips
Creamy. Fresh. Light. Oceanic. If you close your eyes and take a bite of this refreshing appetizer, you can just about picture yourself sitting on the coast of Baja California with a cold drink in hand (ordering a cocktail helps, too). The hints of lime dressing are delicate enough to preserve the smooth flavor of the avocado, while the crab provides a pelagic overtone. If the Smoked Trout Dip is the hearty modern feature of the Fruits Del Mar portion of the menu, then the Crab and Avocado Mash is its lighter cousin.
Beet & Strawberry, Arugula, Sunflower Seeds, Fromage Blanc
Frequently on menus throughout OC one will see a beet salad on a menu, but this salad unique. Cypress Grove Fromage Blanc cheese is not just sprinkled in a conventional matter, but whipped instead. Rich flavors from the cheese highlight the acidity of the beets. Sunflower seeds provide a delicate crunchy texture to the salad. Fresh strawberries pop out to the minds eye and bring bright sweetness to the dish.
Beeler’s Pork Tomahawk Chop, Cannellini Bean, Broccoli Rapini, Blood Orange
This is “that dish”. The one that, when the server brings it out, grabs the attention of the whole room. The one that makes the person at the next table lean in and ask “Excuse me, what is that?” Part of the intrigue is the simplicity: Fennel Pollen. Pork Chop. Beans. Broccoli. Blood Orange.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you though: this dish is the-girl-next-door-turned-prom-queen. Grilled to a perfect medium rare, this bone in pork chop slices with buttery fluidity. Soft spring flavors of fennel pollen provide a sense of lightness, while the blood orange balances out the meatiness of the pork. Cannellini beans provide a textural starchy contrast, if you manage to pry yourself away from the star of the plate.
Paired with 2011 Flowers, Perennial, Sonoma Coast
This delicious red blend highlights aromas of a cherry like tartness and ends with inviting flavors of blackberries, leather and oak. The dark fruit tanginess of the wine accentuates the underlying sweetness of the pork chop.
Meyer Lemon Steam-cake with Champagne Berries
Soft. Sweet. Tart. This dessert features everything I love about sweets. The steam cake is a melt-in-your-mouth treat that provides a cloud like texture on the palate with subtle hints of citrus. Champagne blackberries, strawberries and blueberries balance delicate sweetness the cake. Bite after bite was delightful!