On yet another recent trip to the Orange County area, we found ourselves in Fashion Island hoping to eat yet again at one of our favorites, True Food Kitchen. However, it, as well as other notable options in Fashion Island, happened to be full. Not desiring to wait, we went to Great Maple instead, seeing happy customers enjoying giant noodle-sized bowls of salad and being satisfied with the menu options.
As the outside of Great Maple alludes, the interior was likewise rustic, with dark wood tones and minimal light. It was in fact, extremely difficult to take the pictures, and all of the pictures have been post processed so that you can actually see the food-- in person, this would be pretty dark, and very yellow hued.
Dinner began with an appetizer of crispy calamari (12 USD), accented with chili flakes, fresh olives, and lemon caper mayo. (No bread and butter was provided-- perhaps this is only on request.) We enjoyed the freshness and creativity with the dish-- the chili flakes and seasoning added an interesting take to the fresh, lightly battered squid. Moreover, we found ourselves liking the lemon caper mayo, which had more than the three ingredients described-- we tried to decipher the other ingredients under the orange light, but to no avail. On the other hand, the olives were briny and salty-- quite an enjoyable contrast. With such a delicious appetizer, we hoped our entrees, which our waiter seemed to be happy with, would just be as good.
The first entree we had was the New Zealand blue nose sea bass (28 USD), which came with shallots, white wine au jus, mushroom risotto, and asparagus. This was quite a heavy dish with the thick, creamy and cheesy risotto and large piece of seabass that was edging on dry; moreover, the rice was a tad overcooked. With two major components being flawed, we didn't particularly like this dish, and primarily just enjoyed the mushrooms and asparagus.
Dry also unfortunately was the description of our Artichoke Heart Flatbread Pizza (14 USD), which featured taleggio cheese, ricotta, and portabello mushroom. The lack of any sauce in the pizza made this particularly hard to savor, and the majorly charred bottom of the pizza didn't add any benefits. Furthermore, the cheese was quite strongly flavored-- if you're okay with strong cheeses, this would be an suitable dish for you. We asked for some olive oil to to help the dish (it was quite fruity and green, and came in a generous serving, as large as the aioli-- great!), but still, we packed at least half of this dish (and the seabass) home.
Stuck between the GM Trio Steak and Frites and Orange Smoked Baby Back Ribs, I asked our waitress for her opinion, in which she responded with the GM Trio Steak and Frites (26 USD) being the better choice. Well, with the restaurant's initials on it, it should be!
We did enjoy the three major components to the dish: caesar salad, pommes frites with ketchup, and the 10 ounce ribeye steak with red wine demi glace. And the plating seemed impressive-- ooh, two plates for one dish! The caesar salad was textbook and tasty, other than the croutons were just lightly toasted pieces of unseasoned bread--an interesting change from the typical. The pommes frites were standard but also satisfying, with a crunchy exterior and soft interior. But the steak itself was cut thin, and although cooked to medium rare as instructed, was slightly dry and rough in texture. I was hoping for more sauce, but there was barely any to begin with.
The ingredients are high quality and the portions are large at the Great Maple, but the taste and satisfaction of your meal will primarily depend on how you like your foods prepared.
Great Maple (Fashion Island)
1133 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tel: (949) 706-8282