Jamie Gwen | June 19, 2019 | Food & Drink
The masterminds behind Newport Beach’s beloved A Restaurant bring a buzzy new concept to Corona del Mar. Say hello to CdM.
18-ounce 45-day dry-aged Delmonico steak with roasted garlic and herb butter.
I have one word for you—velvet. With gorgeous interiors, innovative gastronomy and a toastworthy cocktail program, the new CdM Restaurant is seeing immediate success: Just drive down Pacific Coast Highway to glimpse the crowd clamoring to get in on a Friday night. As the second restaurant venture from River Jetty Restaurant Group, comprised of the O.C.-born and -bred team of Hollywood producer McG and restaurateur Jordan Otterbein, CdM is quickly following in A Restaurant’s footsteps as a dimly lit, richly textured hot spot that knows all the right moves. “McG and I are always thinking about new concepts, and when the location became available, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” says Otterbein, operating partner. “We’re both graduates of Corona del Mar High School, so the idea of opening up another spot in the community that we love was really exciting for us.”
Housed in the former Crow Bar & Kitchen space, the property was given a glamorous new look by Betsy Van’t Hof of Art by Design and Kevin Forbes, who installed plush velvet booths in striking blue hues, buttery leather dining chairs and light fixtures from salvage shipyards. Brass accents and herringbone reclaimed wood flooring round out the dazzling design elements, all inspired by London’s swanky Soho House. In the underbelly of CdM sits an exclusive speakeasy, fittingly dubbed Under CdM, and above the restaurant, there’s The Apartment, an exclusive space available to rent for private dinners and events.
Corporate executive chef Jonathan Blackford
Taking the reins as general manager is Matthew Hardeman, also of A Restaurant, whose deft staff is serving corporate executive chef Jonathan Blackford’s cuisine with top-notch service. “This menu is a unique reflection of me and how I view American fare,” says the chef. “It draws influence from America’s melting pot of cuisines and is constantly evolving.”
Now let’s get to imbibing, shall we? CdM is the perfect place to be at 5pm. Sidle up to the bar or sink into one of those coveted booths and order a specialty sipper from bar manager Ravin Buzzell. From the Mint To Be, a modern twist on the classic Pimm’s Cup made with house-crafted cucumber syrup, to the After Dark, a kicker comprised of rye, Fernet-Branca and chocolate bitters, the beverage program is setting the bar high for its O.C. peers. Nibble on the beautifully orchestrated charcuterie board—complete with Delaware Fireball pimento cheese—or dig into the luscious duck liver pate with homemade huckleberry gelee as you take in the eye-catching surroundings (and the affluent attendees). The tempura squash blossoms stuffed with robiola cheese and set atop red pepper and goat cheese sauce are also a crowd favorite.
Ravin Buzzell pours a smoked Old-Fashioned.
Oenophiles should move to the eccentric wine list and indulge in a Rhone blend or Russian River pinot noir to complement hearty entrees like the Kentucky Fried Hen, served characteristically crisp with an option for chile heads to spice it up Nashville-style. The dry-aged Delmonico steak, sliced off the bone, is a meat lover’s paradise adorned with an herbaceous compound butter and caramelized garlic for slathering. Beyond the shore, seafood offerings impress—the Alaskan halibut rests atop a memorable lemon risotto, and the Maine Lobster Reginette is rich with shellfish essence. The highlight of the dessert menu, aptly titled Not Quite Finished, is a heavenly Meyer lemon cheesecake layered with Nilla Wafer crust, torched meringue, Meyer lemon curd and mascarpone.
The Small Board charcuterie spread paired with the CdM Fancy Pizza
The creative and expertly executed American menu at CdM, paired with the handcrafted bar program, have made the opening of this new haunt one of the most exciting to date. The reimagined space and inspired culinary concept showcases the elevated dining scene in our own backyard, and I already can’t wait to return.
Alaskan halibut with lemon risotto and “asparagus a few different ways”
2325 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar
Dinner daily, Sun.-Thu., 5-10pm; Fri. & Sat. 5-11pm
Charcuterie, $8-$32; veggies and small plates, $14-$120; entrees, $16-$65; desserts, $10-$12
The wraparound bar
Photography by: Anne Watson