Let’s travel together to far and near places and have fun.
It’s time to review the Bistango Restaurant located in Irvine California. According to the Bistango website, this fine dining, elegant restaurant offers an artful New American Cuisine. They have an extensive bar and an award-winning wine list with over 400 varieties of wine. The ambiance is further enhanced with a full-service patio, comfortable furniture, and heat lamps. They also have nightly live entertainment and a dance floor. Their menu includes, soups/salads/appetizers, large entree salads, risotto/burgers/pastas/rice, many entrees, and Desserts.
How did I hear about the Bistango? I was searching for fine dining restaurant to celebrate our anniversary dinner. I googled the word soufflé in my area. A few restaurants popped up on the list. Some were still closed because of covid, but this one restaurant caught my eye. I opened their website and looked at their menu. They not only had chocolate soufflé, but they also had Grand Marnier soufflé. Some other great dessert choices were whiskey-raisin bread pudding, tiramisu, and strawberry swirl. By the time we got to Bistango, each of us had already chosen the meals we wanted to try.
The Bistango restaurant was easy to find when using google maps. What we didn’t know, was that we had to take a ticket to enter the parking area. I took the ticket into the restaurant to see if they would validate, and they did. Happily, parking was free.
Our dinner reservations were to be at 6:00pm, but we arrived at 5:40, a little early. Even though Bistango opens at 5:00pm, the restaurant was fairly empty, so we were lucky to be able to get a good seat. I asked if they had a booth available, we were offered to choose the place we would like to sit. A very nice two-seater booth, with just enough space for our food service.
From the time we arrived and were seated, until the time we left Bistango, service was impeccable. First a young man brought us water and our bread. Soon after, our server arrived to ask us for our drink requests. Everything went smoothly without a hitch. I had read some reviews saying that service was slow. But I am glad to tell everyone, that was not in our case. Service was right on time. First with our drink order, we had the peach-lemon vodka drink, which was a nice refreshing pre-dinner cocktail.
For our appetizer, we ordered the Gazpacho Chilled Tomato Soup with cucumber, avocado, olive oil and the Organic Greens Salad with blackberries, onions, tomato, almonds, goat cheese, accompanied by the house vinaigrette, which we will order again next time we go back. For our entree we had the Oven-Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, served with exotic mushroom risotto, asparagus, concord grape sauce and also, Prime Angus Rib Eye Steak, with garlic-herbs shoestring fries, and a red wine reduction. The other steak they offered had a green peppercorn sauce, we asked if we could have that sauce on the steak and they said that we could.
Hats off to their chef. We had two very well-cooked meals. We did make sure when we ordered our food to let the server know that we did want soufflé. Being soufflé veterans, we do know it takes time for those soufflés to be made and each restaurants loves advance notice for their soufflé creation.
Before the dessert arrived, we decided to take a little break from eating and listen to the soft piano music playing in the background, making the whole experience a lovely way to spend a meal. We looked around and noticed how full the restaurant had become. Guest were enjoying their time together inside the restaurant as well as on the covered patio. We wondered had most of these people been regulars of the Bistango or was it they were also craving the soufflé that we were about to have? Our table was cleared, and it was time for dessert.
For our dessert, first came the cappuccino we ordered. The froth had just enough nutmeg to make it smell and taste delicious. Then came the chocolate soufflé. This soufflé was just the right size for sharing. Our server placed the hot chocolate dish in front of us and began pouring the chocolate sauce inside the middle of the airy soufflé cake. Then he added the light, fluffy cream. My spoon broke open the crisp chocolate top of the cake and found it’s way to the creamy bottom. I had to wait for a few seconds before I was able to put it into my mouth. It was fresh out of the oven and very hot. A few blows to the spoon and the mouthwatering, explosion of flavor reached the taste buds. The experience was mmm, mmm, heavenly.
Both of us have decided not to wait until our next special occasion to go back to the Bistango. We were impressed by not only the service, but also by the food, drinks, and dessert we had. We are already planning our next visit and hoping to become regulars at this fine dining restaurant.
If you are looking for a getaway with the family or friends to San Diego, I would recommend staying at the Westgate hotel. The hotel is decorated in a relaxing European décor style, with golden charm and chandeliers around the entire hotel. My family and I were especially impressed with the quality of service they showed. From the time I called to making my booking, to the time we checked out, they were there to serve us at every step of the way.
At first, I was a little confused that our room was located on the 16th floor of the hotel, and the pool was located on the rooftop of the 3rd floor. But the front desk quickly told us it was on the top of the building next door and easily accessible. We made sure to make use of the pool, where they had plenty of lounge chairs to accommodate all five of us. Yes, we got there early and claimed our spot on our second day of our visit.
But let us go back to the first day.
We traveled by Amtrak train to get to San Diego from the Irvine train station. We decided to splurge and go business class. As we boarded the train the attended asked us if we are the family of four, using our last name. I said, “Yes we are,” and they let us on without even checking our ticket. I don’t know if they saved the seat for us, or if we were just lucky, but the four of us, my three grandsons ages 14, 11, and 8 were able to enjoy sitting in a seat where we had a table in front of us, facing each other and were able to talk to each other the entire trip. Another attendant came to us right away and asked us if we would like a morning treat of Danishes and coffee or water. Yes, yes to the sweets and water. We enjoyed the ride with no problems at all.
I was told by the hotel that you can download an app to get free rides in San Diego called Circuit. The night before the trip, I downloaded the app to my phone. When we got into the train lobby I got onto Circuit and tried to get a ride. It kept telling me that they were remarkably busy. So, the boys and I decided to walk to the hotel instead of waiting for an Uber or anything else. It was only about 6 blocks away. We were mostly carrying back packs, so walking there was not a problem.
Arriving at the stunning Westgate hotel was just as the website shows. The boys and I were happy. We were given a key to our room. Yes, a key, not a card to swipe, but a proper key that we needed to put into the lock. Up the elevator we went. Our room was around the corner at the end of the hall. I put the key into the hole and a light turned green. I took the key out thinking it would open the door. Nope, not so easy. I tried again and gave it a turn, still no success. The third time was a charm, the key must be gripped strongly and given a good turn. Finally, it opened to a small entry way to another two doors. Our room was the room on the right. I opened the door and found a spacious room with the two double beds I had ordered, a dressing room in front of the bathroom and an awesome view. There was not much time to dottle, we situated our luggage and now, it was time to see San Diego.
We walked the same route back to the train station, only the attractions we wanted to see were four more blocks away. Perhaps we should have taken an Uber because it was a bit of a walk to get there. But we made it.
At the end of the street, to the left, was the SS Midway, a retired military aircraft carrier. We had seen the Midway before so, that was not what we wanted to see on this trip. We wanted to see the Maritime Museum, which was on the right of us. The museum had many old ships that we climbed onto and out of. One ship in particular, reminded us of a pirate ship. That one was our favorite.
Next, we wanted to go to Seaport Village and have some lunch. It was too far to walk, so we took an Uber to get there. I asked the driver if he would mind first stopping by at the Kissing Statue located near the Midway. The driver accommodated us, and we were able to take family pictures when I asked a nice lady to take a couple of pictures of us. Then off to Seaport, which was a short distance away.
The boys and I enjoyed our food. There was a live performer on a stage singing 70’s songs to us and a small crowd while we ate. Some of the songs everyone sang to, and some of the songs people got up to dance. I was amazed that some of the songs were so popular that even my grandsons knew them.
We were finished with downtown by 4:00, and there was just enough time to take a quick dip in the pool before dinner. The pool was warm, and the boys swam in the pool and made friends with the other younger swimmers. I relaxed in the jacuzzi with others and watched the boys splash, swim, and play.
We decided to eat dinner in the room since we had such a big day. The boys were excited their mother would be joining us early the next day. Quick showers for all and off to bed we went.
Day 2 out of two.
Mom came early on day two. The hotel had already advised me that parking in the hotel for mom would cost $40 for the day. They told us there was a nearby parking lot that was only $10 a day. We decided not to park at the hotel and pick the other spot to park instead.
The boys were eager to see mama. I had invited her to come for tea to celebrate her birthday with tea at the Westgate hotel. But first, some fun in the pool. I was granted a late checkout and we used every second of that late checkout to swim, shower and change for our teatime at 2:15.
Tea was served in the lobby. The day before (Friday), the lobby was packed with ladies dressed in hats, gloves, and frilly dresses to do their tea. Our teatime was more casual. We arrived a little early and was able to pick out which area we would like to sit. Because there were five of us, we decided to use the spacious table that had a tea setting already prepared.
There was no menu to choose a tea service from. It was either tea for an adult or tea for children. I decided, because my boys love to do tea with us every time my daughter and I do tea, we would have all adult servings, and it was a good choice for our family. The server told us we each have our own favorite tea brought to us as much as we like, in fact, we could change with each meal course. Nevertheless, our family decided to each choose the same tea as each other for the same tea course. In other words, a different tea for each course.
We were told that the sandwiches would come first, but since when we do tea in other places, they always start with scones. They said that is not the way it was done there, but they would accommodate our request. See what I mean? This hotel loves to accommodate their guests. They treat you like family!
Our first course came with scones, jam, and Devonshire cream. With a small cup of mixed berries with whipped cream. I do not think I have eaten a better scone with tea. A big hit with all of us.
The second course, we were served the finger sandwiches. Five of them. All delicious. The boys traded out their shrimp sandwich with what they served on the children’s menu, which made them incredibly happy.
The last course was the desserts. Again five, yes five petite desserts. There were fruity ones, tangy ones, and chocolate ones. Our favorite was the chocolate, but we devoured them all.
By the end of our tea, we had had plenty to eat, but now it was time to go home. We didn’t want to leave. Before leaving we asked one of the workers if he would take a picture of us on the grand staircase. A great memory for our last day spent at the Westgate hotel. We will not soon forget this little celebration and hope to come back in the near future.
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