Caviar. What’s more symbolic of the good life than this edible luxury? The ritual of service—from a multitude of garnishes to dainty mother of pearl spoons–is part of its allure. And then there’s the champagne pairings. It’s the perfect indulgence for the holidays. Here are four South Coast Plaza restaurants offering the delicacy beloved by caviar connoisseurs.
SOUTH COAST PLAZA
THE CAVIAR FEATURE
Level 1, Between Jewel and Carousel Courts
More than a hundred years ago brothers Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian, originally from Armenia, came to Paris and introduced the art of caviar to the City of Light. Today, it is enjoyed across the globe and Petrossian is recognized as the pioneer and finest purveyor of the highly coveted roe. Less than a year ago, the one-of-a-kind Petrossian at Tiffany opened at South Coast Plaza, uniting the best of two luxury brands.
The extensive caviar section includes almost a dozen selections–from Royal Baïka and special reserve Shassetra to the fresh, fruity Ossetra and buttery Kaluga Huso hybrid caviar. The briny beads are customarily served with petite blinis, toast points and crème fraîche.
Tiffany caviar tastings are offered, served on mother of pearl spoons. The Tsar Imperial Flight includes Baïka, Shassetra, Ossetra, and Kaluga caviar. The next level is an exclusive special reserve caviar trio.
Petrossian’s executive chef Carlos Cabrera has an impressive background that includes years at Le Cirque in New York City and Las Vegas. He has created other well-known French dishes for the menu, including a take on the famous soft scrambled egg royale. A beef tartare, Kusshi oysters, hand sliced smoked salmon and potato mille-feuille are all lavishly garnished with premium caviar.
Level 3, Penthouse
Leave it to the French. Chef Tony Esnault of the Michelin-star Knife Pleat delivers an exquisite presentation of caviar and accouterments, with a choice of three different caviars. The garnishes include house made pomme gaufrette, toasted brioche fingers, and oeufs brouillés with chives. Guests may order caviar at the intimate bar and as a starter at lunch, dinner or Saturday tea.
Knife Pleat’s caviar is custom packaged in one-ounce tins. Tsar Nicoulai Golden Osetra is buttery and rich, with a fully creamy finish and unique nutty afternote. Tsar Nicoulai Golden Reserve is creamy perfection—rare, with a medium to large bead and a smooth buttery finish. Chef Esnault Crown Jewel has gold and silver flecks, buttery and creamy with a rich, clean finish. It is an extremely rare, seasonal offering.
Caviar is in sync with the diner looking for an elevated experience. As restaurateur and partner Yassmin Sarmadi noted: “What better way to start or end a day of luxury shopping at South Coast Plaza than with caviar service at Knife Pleat—the ultimate luxury in dining.”
What better way to start or end a day of luxury shopping at South Coast Plaza than with caviar service at Knife Pleat—the ultimate luxury in dining.
YASSMIN SARMADI, KNIFE PLEAT
Level 1, Park Tower
Top Chef alumnus Amar Santana offers caviar at Vaca, his Spanish style hot spot, located by Segerstrom Center for The Arts. The splendid pre-theater snack features Imperial Kaluga Hybrid Reserve Caviar–a combination of Kaluga and Amur sturgeon, with rich amber coloring, a buttery, clean opening and velvety smooth finish. Some say it is the closest in quality, texture and flavor to Beluga caviar.
Garnishes includes crème fraîche, capers, finely diced egg whites, yolks, shallots, and chives. Imported from Spain, artisanal Torres potato chips are the perfect vehicle for spreading the savory roe.
How did caviar end up on a Spanish-centric menu? According to Santana, it comes down to listening to the guests.
One of our big sellers is fresh sea urchin with scrambled eggs. We started to get requests to add caviar to it. So, we offered it as an add-on, and from there it developed into having classic caviar service. Our regulars love it.
AMAR SANTANA, VACA
Level 2, Saks Fifth Avenue Wing
For a fun take on the regal roe, order the Fried Chicken & Royal Ossetra Caviar at Populaire, a French-inspired bistro with a quirky accent from chefs Nick Weber and Ross Pangilinan.
His recipe mimics the Japanese karaage fried chicken with a thin crispy, crunchy crust. “The labneh (strained yoghurt) brings a nice tang and creaminess to cut the richness of the chicken and is a great foil to the Ossetra caviar.”
The unexpected pairing, reflective of Nick Weber’s whimsical combining of ingredients, was called “the perfect tease” by Brad A. Johnson in his review of Populaire for the Orange County Register.
The layers of flavor in a single bite are a savory revelation: Warm, golden crunch, tender juicy chicken, creamy, cool dairy and the salty taste of the sea from the Ossetra caviar.
I wanted to have a fun and yummy vessel for caviar that would get people who weren’t familiar to give it a try.
NICK WEBER, POPULAIRE